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As a huge fan of Lonesome Dove I looked forward to reading Sin Killer. This very well-written story failed to grab me as Lonesome Dove did, but was still very engaging. Sin Killer is the 1830's Midwestern America's answer to Tarzan. As the Berrybender family, the richest noble family in England, tries to wind its way up the Missouri river in a large steamboat towards Yellowstone before winter sets in, their oldest daughter Tasmin (see Jane) becomes separated from her family and is rescued by the rugged frontiersman Jim Snow. Snow is nicknamed Sin Killer due to his need to punish anyone, even Tasmin herself, he sees committing a sin.
What I found appealing about this story is the sharp contrast between the supposedly civilized Berrybender family and mid-western Americans. The Berrybenders are the most self-centered and non-emotional bunch I've ever read about. When Tasmin's sister and tutor are abducted by Indians, Tasmin is upset because she fears her seduction of the Sin Killer will be interrupted. Also, as her sister Mary notes, she is more upset that her tutor is missing than her sister because the tutor is the only one who can style her hair the right way. The family only came to America so that their father, Lord Berrybender, could kill different types of animals. He even endangers the entire family and his servants in order to hunt buffalo during a severe winter storm. The American frontiersmen they encounter along the way work very hard to help the Berrybenders without much compensation. And yet they are very much looked down upon by the family. Lord Berrybender ignores any and all advice given to him in order to fulfill his own desires. He is use to having his own way, and will have it at all costs.
I believe McMurtry's self-centered characters are intentionally placed, and perhaps their emotions will develop better in the next installment. I will be reading the next one.
21 of 23 people found this review helpful
The Sin Killer is a terrific entry into the Berrybender trilogy, but as fascinating as the characters are and as interesting as their relationships become, each subsequent book in the trilogy gets even better and better. Fans of McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, Commanche Moon, and others will be very pleased they started on this series as well. No western genre writer does it better. The quirky characters all come alive, however self-centered and selfish they may be, and the groundwork is laid for a tremendous read. You won't miss the next two books in the series, guaranteed. The dialogue is just terrific!
10 of 11 people found this review helpful