Eli and Charlie Sisters are the hired guns of the shadowy Commodore in this cleverly warped Western. The brothers head to California to kill a man accused of stealing from their boss. Along the way, they encounter prospectors, con-artists, drunks and prostitutes, and instigate every possible form of mayhem. The book is narrated by (the slightly less sociopathic brother) Charlie, who argues with Eli in an amusing fashion about his weight, his one-eyed horse and the finer points of dental hygiene. But as soon as the reader starts sympathizing with Eli, along comes the next violent crime spree – dispassionately described with a comic twist.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
Loved it or loathed it, everyone had something to say, (which makes for the best sort of meeting). Coming out in favour were THE HUSBANDS who all loved it, and are eagerly awaiting the movie. Those with positive reactions, cited strong writing, humour and turn of phrase. The others found it hard to stay with, distasteful and excessively violent. The graphic nature of the writing either thrilled and/or repulsed us as readers. We found that deWitt’s strong voice had the effect of slowing down our reading. Some enjoyed this drawling pace, others lost interest. We had a great deal of sympathy for Tub – who certainly did not deserve to suffer the way he did. Eli was seen as an optimist, despite dire circumstances and a difficulty with self-regulation when it came to his temper. Sibling rivalry was a major theme, explored as a powerful love/hate relationship between the boys. Charlie Sisters, despite his ruthless, impulsive ways, always watched out for Eli above all other motivations such as greed, ego, reputation and desire for power. This was a small redemption in his character, which we agreed to love to hate. It was ironic that these killers ended up back with their mother. We agreed the book should be recommended with discretion – not a book for everyone.