Cover image for Sin killer : a novel
Title:
Sin killer : a novel
Author:
McMurtry, Larry.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
300 pages : map ; 25 cm.
General Note:
Map on lining papers.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780743233026
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Larry McMurtry's Sin Killer, the first novel of a major four-volume work, is set in the West when it was still unexplored, with a rich, brilliant cast of characters, their lives as intertwined and memorable as those of Lonesome Dove, a work that is at once literature and great entertainment. 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. As they journey by rough stages up the Missouri River, they meet with all the dangers, difficulties, temptations, and awesome natural scenery of the untamed West, as well as a cast of characters including Indians, pioneers, mountain men, and explorers, both historical and imaginary, and with as many adventures as Gus and Call faced in Lonesome Dove. At the very core of the book is Tasmin's fast-developing relationship with Jim Snow, frontiersman, ferocious Indian fighter, and part-time preacher (known up and down the Missouri as the Sin Killer), the strong, handsome, silent Westerner who eventually captures her heart, despite the fact that they are two intensely strong-willed people, from very different backgrounds. Against the immense backdrop of the American West, still almost (but not quite) unspoiled, Larry McMurtry has created a wonderfully engaging familyconfronting every bigger-than-life personality of the frontier, from the painter George Catlin to Indian chiefs, beaver trappers, mountain men, and European aristocrats and adventurers, as they make their way up the great river, surviving attacks, discomfort, savage weather, and natural disaster. Sin Killer is a great adventure story full of incident, suspense, and excitement, from a buffalo stampede to an Indian raid, coupled with a charmingly unlikely love story between a headstrong and aristocratic young Englishwoman and a stubborn, shy, and very American product of the West, in the person of Jim Snow. At once epic, comic, and as big as the West itself, it is the kind of novel that only Larry McMurtry can write.


Author Notes

Larry McMurtry, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, among other awards, is the author of twenty-four novels, two collections of essays, two memoirs, more than thirty screenplays, & an anthology of modern Western fiction. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

(Publisher Provided) Novelist Larry McMurtry was born June 3, 1936 in Wichita Falls, Texas. He received a B.A. from North Texas State University in 1958, an M.A. from Rice University in 1960, and attended Stanford University. He married Josephine Ballard in 1959, divorced in 1966, and had one son, folksinger James McMurtry.

Until the age of 22, McMurtry worked on his father's cattle ranch. When he was 25, he published his first novel, "Horseman, Pass By" (1961), which was turned into the Academy Award-winning movie Hud in 1962. "The Last Picture Show" (1966) was made into a screenplay with Peter Bogdanovich, and the 1971 movie was nominated for eight Oscars, including one for best screenplay adaptation. "Terms of Endearment" (1975) received little attention until the movie version won five Oscars, including Best Picture, in 1983.

McMurtry's novel "Lonesome Dove" (1985) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 and the Spur Award and was followed by two popular TV miniseries. The other titles in the Lonesome Dove Series are "Streets of Laredo" (1993), "Dead Man's Walk" (1995), and "Comanche Moon" (1997). The other books in his Last Picture Show Trilogy are "Texasville" (1987) and "Duane's Depressed" (1999).

McMurtry suffered a heart attack in 1991 and had quadruple-bypass surgery. Following that, he suffered from severe depression and it was during this time he wrote "Streets of Laredo," a dark sequel to "Lonesome Dove." His companion Diana Ossana, helping to pull him out of his depression, collaborated with him on "Pretty Boy Floyd" (1994) and "Zeke and Ned" (1997). He co-won the Best Screenplay Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain in 2006. He made The New York Times Best Seller List with his title's Custer and The Last Kind Words Saloon.

McMurtry is considered one of the country's leading antiquarian book dealers.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The Great Western Novel is alive and well, thanks in no small part to McMurtry, who here embarks on the first of four tales of the Berrybender family. It's 1832, and Lord and Lady Berrybender--wealthy Brits incongruously venturing into the Wild West--make their way up the Missouri River (the Yellowstone, the Rio Grande, and the Brazos will be the settings for the next three adventures, each making up one year of travel). Among those in the sizable entourage are 6 of the 14 Berrybender children, including Tasmin, a gutsy, industrious young woman who generally takes charge of the hapless group--no small task, as Lord and Lady Berrybender live by whim and are always "the least likely to accept the severities of logic." But Tasmin's independence brings strife, too, especially when she hooks up with frontiersman Jim Snow, an Indian fighter and wanna-be preacher. They call him the Sin Killer, more for his moralistic exploits than his violent tendencies, but nonetheless he is an enigma to the Berrybenders. With characteristic wit and charisma, and without overt romanticism, McMurtry returns us to the American frontier with a cast of characters nearly as varied and compelling as the Lonesome Dove ensemble. Fans of that Pulitzer Prize-winning and miniseries-inspiring novel will be sure to stand in line for this one. --Mary Frances Wilkens


Publisher's Weekly Review

Part western, part satire of the English class system contrasted with rugged frontier society, the first volume of this proposed tetralogy gets off to a shaky start as McMurtry introduces the randy, bumbling Berrybender clan, a rich but inept aristocratic British family that journeys up the Missouri River to try to capitalize on the land boom of the 1830s. The early romantic subplot shows promise when beautiful but flighty Lady Tasmin Berrybender, temporarily separated from her group, is rescued by Jim Snow, a quiet, religious trapper known as the Sin Killer, both for his piety (I'm hard on sin ) and for his fierce fighting skills. Snow returns Tasmin to the family vessel, and his sudden marriage proposal delights Tasmin, until she discovers that he already has two Indian wives. The other narrative lines aren't nearly as entertaining, as McMurtry veers back and forth between outlining the war between various rival Indian tribes and trying to generate comic sparks with the Berrybenders' ongoing series of pratfalls. He has some brief success in the later chapters when Tasmin defies her pompous father, Lord Berrybender, as he tries to undo the marriage to keep the family bloodline pure, and Jim Snow remains an intriguing figure throughout. But much of the light comedy lands with a thud, and the introduction of a raft of mostly superfluous characters takes the edge off McMurtry's prose and makes the Berrybenders seem silly and inane rather than charming. McMurtry does plant a few promising plot seeds for the ensuing books, but it will take a more focused and genuinely humorous effort the next time out to make this concept work. While the narrative fails to satisfy as a true western, readers should enjoy McMurtry's portrait of the terrain bordering the Missouri River. Future volumes will be set on or beside three other rivers, the Yellowstone, the Rio Grande and the Brazos. Agent, Sarah Chalfant. (May 13) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

McMurtry here begins a planned tetralogy of the adventures of the Berrybender family. The Berrybenders are wealthy members of the British aristocracy. In 1832, they travel up the Missouri River in a luxurious steamboat with a legion of servants, Indian chiefs, a cello-playing mistress, a cook, a tutor, a governess, and a French femme du chambre who manages to fall off the boat, much to the amusement of the Indians. In true McMurtry tradition, disaster strikes in myriad ways, and members of the party are scattered across the Great Plains. At the center of the action is the eldest Berrybender daughter, Tamsin, and her growing love for a mysterious Westerner, the fearsome Indian fighter/preacher known as the Sin Killer. It is hard to describe this work succinctly because there is so much action, but in a nutshell, it is a ship of fools, a slapstick black comedy set against the immense backdrop of the American West. The fabulous Alfred Molina narrates the story, and his facility with voices and accents is simply dazzling. Enthusiastically recommended for all libraries; patrons will eagerly await the next installment.-Barbara Perkins, Irving P.L., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One In the darkness beyond the great Missouri's shore... In the darkness beyond the great Missouri's shore at last lay the West, toward which Tasmin and her family, the numerous Berrybenders, had so long been tending. The Kaw, an unimpressive stream, had been passed that afternoon -- Tasmin, Bobbety, Bess, and Mary had come ashore in the pirogue to see the prairies that were said to stretch west for a thousand miles; but in fact they could hardly see anything, having arrived just at dusk. The stars were coming out -- bright, high stars that didn't light the emptiness much, as a full moon might have done. Bess, called Buffum by the family, insisted that she had heard a buffalo cough, while Bobbety claimed to have seen a great fish leap at dusk, some great fish of the Missouri. The three older Berrybenders tramped for a time along the muddy shore, trailed, as usual, by the sinister and uncompromising Mary, aged twelve, whom none of them had invited on the tour. In the last light they all stared at the gray grass and the brown slosh of water; but the great fish of the Missouri did not leap again. Disappointed, the agile Bobbety at once caught a slimy green frog, which he foolishly tried to force down Mary's dress, the predictable result of his actions being that the frog squirmed away while Mary, never one to be trifled with, bit Bobbety's forefinger to the bone, causing him to blubber loudly, to Buffum's great annoyance and Tasmin's quiet contempt. Though Bobbety attempted to give his sister a sharp slap, Mary, like the frog, squirmed away and, for a time, was seen no more. "It is said that there are no schools anywhere in the American West, in this year of our Lord 1832," Bess declaimed, in her characteristically pompous way. The three of them were attempting to row the pirogue back to the big boat, but in fact their small craft was solidly grounded on the Missouri mud. Bobbety, muttering about lockjaw and gangrene, dropped the only paddle, which floated away. "Do get it, Tasmin...I'm bleeding...I fear the piranhas will inevitably attack," Bobbety whined; his knowledge of natural history was of the slightest. Tasmin might readily have given him a succinct lecture on the normally benign nature of the piranha, in any case a fish of the Amazon, not the Missouri, but she decided to postpone the lecture and catch the paddle, a thing soon accomplished, the Missouri being distressingly shallow at that point of its long drainage. Tasmin got wet only to her knees. In her large family, the ancient, multifarious Berrybenders, Tasmin was invariably the one who recovered paddles, righted boats, posted letters, bound up wounds, corrected lessons, dried tears, cuffed the tardy, reproved the wicked, and lectured the ignorant, study having been her passion from her earliest days. Far out in the center of the broad stream, the steamer Rocky Mount seemed to be as immovable as their humble pirogue -- mired, perhaps, like themselves, in the clinging Missouri mud. Sounds of the evening's carouse were just then wafting across the waves. Copyright (c) 2002 by Larry McMurtry Excerpted from Sin Killer by Larry McMurtry All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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