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.
At the very core of the story 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," he's the handsome, silent Westerner who eventually captures her heart.
Against the immense backdrop of the American West, Larry McMurtry tracks this engaging family as they make their way up the great river, surviving attacks, discomfort, savage weather, and natural disaster. Sin Killer is an adventure story full of incident, and suspense, as well as a charming love story between a headstrong and aristocratic young Englishwoman and the stubborn, shy, and very American Jim Snow. As big as the West itself, this is the kind of story that only Larry McMurtry can write.
Listen to the other books in Larry McMurtry's Berrybender saga.
©2002 Larry McMurty. All rights reserved.; (P)2002 Simon & Schuster Inc. All rights reserved. AUDIOWORDS is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster
"The Great Western Novel is alive and well, thanks in no small part to McMurtry." (Booklist)
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"Unemotional characters are brutally honest"
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.
"The Old West comes alive!"
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!
As I cross the Missouri river everyday on my way to work, I loved this storyline. Although there were many characters in the story, I didn't have any trouble figuring out who they were thanks to Alfred Molina's narration. The story covers alot of ground in 7+ hours, so at times I thought that I was listening to an abridged version, but overall I would highly recommend this book.
"Great reading of fairly good novel"
Alfred Molina's reading of McMurtry's novel is worth the purchase. The story itself is curiously interesting but never fully engaging. One never really manages to care about the passel of oddball characters whose actions are always unpredictable. But Molina never faulters in his rendering of everyone from the flighty young Tasmin to the Jesuit priest who loves nice fashions.
"The Berrybender Narratives are just delightful"
These books paint a vivid portrait of the western plains in the early 1800's. Terrible things happen but the violence is not graphic, rather a bit removed. It is there, but not gory. The clash of civilizations between the europeans and the frontiersmen is very humorous. The BerryBender's are very eccentric and self centered. The frontiersmen are self centered in a different way, that of self survival. Larry McMurtry's writing is excellent as always. I am now on the 4th book, Folly and Glory, and cannot put it down. The narration is also excellent well done. I will be sad when I am done with the series.
I was really disappointed with this book. The English family characters are so outrageous that the book became boring and unbelivable. I am a great lover of "Lonesome Dove" by McMurtry so I know his level of talent. Sin Killer is unfortunately not worth the read.
"Wonderful narration and superb writing"
Alfred Molina reading Larry McMurtry is a combination that can't be beat. McMurtry's rich and idiosyncratic characters, compelling plots, and hilarious narrative deserve a lot more attention than they seem to get. He has a minutely-detailed knowledge of the history of the American West. Perhaps he draws on diaries and other first-person documents; reading him makes you think, "How could he think this stuff up? It must have really happened." I'm an older person who grew up in California, but it seems I never understood the West until I encountered Larry McMurtry. Lonesome Dove made me think I could even understand Texas! But I digress. The Berrybender Narratives are a not-to-be-missed treat. It's best to approach them in order, and Sin Killer is the first of four.
"Intriguing through the entire series"
the variety of characters, the location & time of the story. Currently reading the journals of Lewis & Clark and this fit right in with a lot of what they had gone through.
Whole family of Berrybenders traveling from England to the American west on a hunting trip.
Tazmin Berrybender & James Snow at the river on their first meeting.
there are spots that make you laugh (the Indian thoughts about the white man & each other) and there are places that make you sad.
Lord Berrybender is an egotistical and selfish person and his daughter Tazmin is very sharp tongued and opinionated. They offset each other through the entire book.
Alfred Molina does a very good job with all of the characters and draws you into the story.
Larry McMurtry does an excellent job of detailing this saga. However, it would not be half as interesting if it were not for the gentleman reading the book. He is absolutely sensational in the way he is able to change dialects and do it instantaneously and keep them all the same throughout the book. It brings the whole adventure alive and personal. Five stars all the way.
"Laugh out loud funny in parts"
Entertaining read; McMurty is is an imaginative author who spins a gripping tale of the frontier West
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