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Sin Killer
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From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry comes the first in a four-volume epic journey through the early American frontier, featuring the Berrybender family, English nobility adrift in the American West in the 1830s. It is 1830, and the Berrybender family--rich, aristocratic, English, and hopelessly out of place--is on its way up the Missouri River to see the untamed West as it begins to open up. With irascible determination--and a great deal of outright chaos--the party experiences both the awesome majesty and brutal savagery of the unexplored land, from buffalo stampedes and natural disasters to Indian raids and encounters with frontiersmen and trappers, explorers, pioneers, and one part-time preacher known as "the Sin Killer." Packed with breathtaking adventure, charming romance, and a sense of humor stretching clear over the horizon, Sin Killer is a truly unique view of the West that could only come from the boundless skill and imagination of Larry McMurtry.
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In the first of a new tetralogy, set in the early 1800s, the veddy English Berrybenders head up the Missouri and into trouble. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"The Washington Post" A sprawling parody of the frontier encounter...."Sin Killer" is a zany, episodic ride. With gusto and nonstop ingenuity, McMurtry moves his cast of characters and caricatures steadily upstream. "The New York Times" Irresistible. " Chicago Tribune" A story as big as the West itself. "Sin Killer offers a zany, episodic ride...It is a journey made of pratfalls, floggings, stabbings, bawdy seductions, gruesome deaths and daring rescues." --The Washington Post "Irresistible...full of blood, blunder and myth." -- The New York Times "In this tale of the exploration, and exploitation, of the West, McMurtry is telling us something about our checkered past -- and perhaps about our uncertain present." -- People ""Sin Killer" offers a zany, episodic ride...It is a journey made of pratfalls, floggings, stabbings, bawdy seductions, gruesome deaths and daring rescues." --"The Washington Post" "Irresistible...full of blood, blunder and myth."-- "The New York Times"

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) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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