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Publisher's Summary

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.

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

Critic Reviews

"The Great Western Novel is alive and well, thanks in no small part to McMurtry." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Performance

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    36
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Story

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

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.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tom
  • Saint James, MO, USA
  • 06-14-03

Outstanding subject

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kerri
  • New Orleans, LA, United States
  • 05-24-03

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Vintage Larry McMurtry

I’ve read quite a few of McMurtry’s other books and this is the same western graphic earthy style that is comedic at times. I personally like the style although others may not. You get the sense this is how things really were, not a romanticized story. The narration is good although at times I would have preferred a bit more emotion. Overall an entertaining audio novel. On to volume 2!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

This not Lonesome Dove

I was very disappointed with this book, overall. It did have some good moments, but by in large it was a disappointment. The Berrybender family is very unlikeable. I enjoyed the indians in the book, and their should have been more about Jim Snow.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Superb storytelling, pure Gold !! Loved it !!!!!

Superb storytelling and narration. Characters so alive them jump out of the pages. I read all 4 books of the berrybender narratives 3 years ago but these audiobooks are hard to resist. Alfred Molina is amazing and Larry Mcmurtry in a literary genius. Cannot wait to start book 2. Cheers !!!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Emily
  • Bozeman, MT, United States
  • 07-27-14

such a disappointment

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Big McMurtry fans I suppose

Has Sin Killer turned you off from other books in this genre?

no, but won't listen to others in the series.

How could the performance have been better?

I've loved Molina reading The Iliad and Treasure Island... this was flat and uninteresting. Hugely disappointing

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

not to me.. I stopped listening after about 1 hour

Any additional comments?

Did not enjoy any of the characters, or the storyline.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful