Sin Killer

by Larry McMurtry

Hardcover, 2002

Call number




Simon & Schuster (2002), Edition: First Edition, 304 pages


"It is 1830, and the Berrybender family, rich, aristocratic, English, and fiercely out of place, is on its way up the Missouri River to see the American West as it begins to open up." "Accompanied by a large and varied collection of retainers, Lord and Lady Berrybender have abandoned their palatial home in England to explore the frontier and to broaden the horizons of their children, who include Tasmin, a budding young woman of grit, beauty, and determination, her vivacious and difficult sister, and her brother....

User reviews

LibraryThing member brendajanefrank
Sin killer is part one of a four-part series chronicaling the adventures of the aristocratic, English Berrybender family exploring the American West in the 1830's on a steamship on the Missouri River. Lord Berrybender is accompanied by his gluttonous wife and six of his 14 legitimate children. The
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series is historical fiction in that it incorporates actual people such as Kit Carson and Jim Bridges, yet the tales are so fanciful that history is left in the dust.

Outrageous is the best general characterization of these stories. The adventures and their characters seem larger than life and more colorful than neon. Not for the faint of heart, unexpected, random, senseless and disturbing atrocities, injuries, and deaths litter these tales, with a side of lots of “rutting.” The majority of the initial primary characters do not survive to see book four4 of the series.

Yet, the stories grabbed me. I went through the series like popcorn, wanting to see what amazing events would occur to the crazy Berrybenders and their growing entourage. The series is intense, rollercoastering through every facet of human emotion and many aspects of abnormal psychology. Nothing dull in these books. The frequent connections to actual historical persons and events keep the tales interesting and grounded, despite the continuum of bizarre incidents. Not for everyone, but I liked it.
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LibraryThing member rosinalippi
I am a fan of McMurtry's historical westerns, but this series is a little too broad in its humor for my tastes.
LibraryThing member santhony
This is a refreshingly original western, documenting the western experiences of an extremely upper class English family undertaking the ultimate adventure of the time. As the story progresses through succeeding volumes, it gradually runs out of steam and becomes a novella cash grab, but the
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original shows promise and is highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member pdill8
While I enjoyed Lonesome Dove, I found this one childish and silly. The concept is an original, fresh take, but the story line and writing take the easy way out. It reads like a pulpuy TV show, and the end of book one doesn't really end anything at all- more of a "to be continued" sort of ending,
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which I don't buy into at all. I get that it's a part of a series, but I think it should be able to stand alone.
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LibraryThing member Squeex
This was a good listen, but I have to admit I admire McMurtry's LONESOME DOVE series much much better. I can't remember ever wanting to reach inside the book and smack any of the characters as much as I wanted to smack some of the Berrybender family around. Lord Berrybender was the worst. As a
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wealthy member of the English aristocracy, he was used to having everything in his whim made so and quickly. One part that had me laughing as much as wanting to smack upside the back of his head with a castiron skillet was his demand that his valet go up and herd the antelope closer so that he could ensure a better shot. And he wanted to know why someone hadn't thought to landscape the prairie with more bushes so that he had someplace to hide behind for hunting.

I felt so bad for the American frontiersmen and ship captain for all that they had to put up with these fops.

Tasmin had more sense than her father and most of her family, but not as much as she should have had to navigate the frontier alone as she thought she could. She mostly wanted escape from her family and Jim Snow, Sin Killer, was her answer. Jim Snow is amenable for the most part, but it has to be on his terms and his are pretty harsh. He's a good person, but he has rules he lives by and Tasmin has to follow them, too.

I will likely listen to the rest of the series or read them since DH and I collect all of McMurtry's books, but it's going to be a while before I will be ready to put up with more of the Berrybender antics.

Four frontier beans....
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LibraryThing member Whiskey3pa
LM is always readable, even if you don't love the story per se. The Berrybender books are almost a satire of themselves. That said, I keep reading them.
LibraryThing member ZachMontana
Enjoyable listen of 1832 tale of English Aristocrats river boating up the Missouri to the Yellowstone. Indian encounters and mountain men.
LibraryThing member repb
A strange tale about a bizarre, very rich English family group traveling by river through the western part of the USA in early 1800s. Part one of a four part series of books, each one on a different river. I can't imagine how the story continues considering the mayhem occurring in the first book.
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Intriguing is a good word to describe it.
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LibraryThing member addunn3
First in the Berrybender series of four books about an aristocratic family that adventures into the new American West in 1832. Some lively characters, and as befitting Mr. McMurtry, quite a few of them end up dead. A few historical figures also pass through the pages.
LibraryThing member lamour
This novel chronicles the disastrous adventures of an English noble family as they sail up the Missouri River in search of buffalo for the aristocratic Lord Albany Berrybender to shoot. As is apparently typical of McMurtry novels is the dark humour which this one is full of it.Examples: Lord
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Berrybender accidentally shoots toes off his own foot but blames his gun boy.. His ignorance of everything leads to many unnecessary deaths of his family members as well as his staff. The descriptions of the Lord and his staff hunting in a windy snow storm where the temperature drops below 60 degrees is vividly described to the point where I felt cold.

Once I started, I found it difficult to put down. Recommended.

McMurtry's dedication for this book is a thank you to the second hand book sellers of the Western world who have helped him acquire an education.
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