The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt – An Audio Book Review

The Sisters Brothers


Oregon, 1851. Eli and Charlie Sisters, notorious professional killers, are on their way to California to kill a man named Hermann Kermit Warm. On the way, the brothers have a series of unsettling experiences in the landscape of Gold Rush America. And they bicker a lot. Arriving in California, and discover that Warm has invented a magical formula, which could make all of them very rich. What happens next is utterly gripping, strange and sad….

Author: Patrick Dewitt

Narrator: William Hope

Publisher: W. F. Howes Ltd

Running Time: 8hrs 52mins

Audio Release Date: 06/10/2011

Genre: Historical Fiction

My Rating of ‘The Sisters Brothers’: 5 out of 5

Purchase: Audible, Amazon


I’ll start out by saying that this is one of the best covers I’ve ever seen (provided you’re looking at the one with the two guys silhouetted against the moon rather than the still image taken from the film). Absolutely beautiful. And carry on by saying that the book beneath the covers is too.

The Sisters Brothers follows Eli and Charlie Sisters as they make their way from Oregon to California to kill Herman Kermit Warm on behalf of their paymaster, the Commodore. What ensues is a series of unexpected, unfortunate and downright charming (in some cases) events.

At its core, The Sisters Brothers is a story of self-discovery set to the backdrop of gold rush America. It is told entirely from the POV of Eli Sisters (first person perspective) as he and his brother strike out across the country in pursuit of their target.

The brothers themselves are a tale of two halves. One of them wants nothing more than to be a good man yet finds the notoriety of his name a heavy burden where achieving such a thing is concerned. The other is the sort of man who loves to revel in his own strength and enjoys the fear his name inspires over those he encounters.

Unlike most books with two famed gunslingers as the focal point, the action isn’t thick and fast. It’s more realistic than drawn out, and you get a sense that everything that’s going on could have happened rather than it being the imaginings of an author. Some of the scenes are downright painful (in a you feel their pain kind of way rather than painful to read) because of this.

The overall tone is one of sadness on the part of Eli, not a sadness because of any one thing, more on account of just looking at his life and how things are turning out and being thoroughly unsatisfied with everything. He’s the sort of guy who finds simple pleasures in most things and, despite that, life seems to throw a bucket load of negativity and unwanted scenarios in his path.

Both the language used and the storytelling combine to make one complete, charming package that, even if nothing happened at all throughout, it would be enjoyable simply to ride along with Eli and his brother and to experience their lives first hand. Nothing about this book is high-adrenaline, but everything about it is easy-going and enjoyable.

I’d also be surprised if you got trough this without a newfound addiction for brushing your teeth. That may sound like a strange comment, but you’ll get it if you read/listen.

I particularly loved the narration by William Hope. He did a fantastic job of bringing not only the main characters to life, but every single character they met. His skilful narration really added some fire to this that my own reading would not have been able to.


A lot of reviews I have since read say this is what would happen if the Coen Brothers were to write a book. I totally get that. It has the vibe of a Coen Brothers film and certainly has the same charm and enjoyability of O’ Brother Where Art Thou.

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