Sin Killer (Berrybender Narratives Series #1)

Sin Killer (Berrybender Narratives Series #1)

by Larry McMurtry


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743246842
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 08/02/2005
Series: Berrybender Narratives Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 175,131
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.43(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.


Archer City, Texas

Date of Birth:

June 3, 1936

Place of Birth:

Wichita Falls, Texas


B.A., North Texas State University, 1958; M.A., Rice University, 1960. Also studied at Stanford University.

Read an Excerpt

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 © 2002 by Larry McMurtry

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

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.

Chicago Tribune A story as big as the West itself.

The New York Times Irresistible.

Customer Reviews

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Sin Killer (Berrybender Narratives Series #1) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I have read everything Larry Mcmurtry has ever published, even the essays. No one develops characters like he does. I don't want to wait long for the next installment. This book made me laugh outloud at the calamities this selfish, spoiled family encounter. They don't blink at the hardship and death of their relatives and shipmates. I recommend this book to anyone. The only problem is the reading goes too fast and the book ends too soon. Larry, get the lead out and no vacations for a while, please!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sin Killer is the first of four novels in a series detailing the adventures of the rich, aristocratic, and eccentric Berrybender family¿terribly out of place¿traveling up the Missouri River and then across the endless Great Plains toward Santa Fe. The time is the early 1830s, and the American West they have come to see is both magnificant and brutally hostile. The naive English troup encounters numerous memorable characters, such as the trappers Jim Bridger, Tom Fitzpatrick, and Kit Carson, the painter George Catlin, a fearsome Sioux war chief named Partezon, and an assortment of other quirky adventurers. At once epic, comic, and tragic, the Berrybender narrative represents a crucial decade in which the West was both won and lost and when random violence and natural hazards greeted all those who dared venture west of St Louis. At the core of the novels is the love story of beautiful, blunt, brash Tasmin Berrybender and the ferocious frontiersman, Jim Snow. Tasmin is one of McMurtry's most memorable female characters, and her stormy relationship with her wandering husband is part bittersweet romance, part soap opera. McMurtry remains a master storyteller, skillfully mixing fact with fiction and tragedy with comedy. It's interesting to note that the Scotsman, William Drummond Stewart, who meets a grisly end in the second volume, actually returned home (with a small herd of buffalo) in the late 1830s to be laird of his manor. He died in 1871, leaving the family estates to an illegitimate son whose mother was a Dallas saloon keeper. As for Pomp Charbonneau, who for a time is the focus of Tasmin's determined love, in real life he ended his days searching for gold in California, dying at age 61 en route to Montana.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A super star of western adventrue. McMurtry is a wonderful moving writer. The novel is a must read piece of intertainment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was an excellent read. I've never been a fan of the western's and was quite skeptical when a friend recommended this book. But it reads like a spectacular mix of Mark Twain, Jonathan Irving and Voltaire, all at once it is laugh out loud hilarious, and solemnly stoic with it's matter of fact descriptions of dismemberment, death, and life. My only complaint is the abrupt ending, which as I understand is really not the ending, with 3 other books following the Berrybenders in the wings.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I rushed through this fast-paced story, and I loved every minute! Tasmin is as rich a character as the equally spoiled Scarlet O'Hara, but much more self-aware. I can't wait for the next installment -- I haven't enjoyed McMurtry this much for a while.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked it. It wasn't what I expected but it had rich characters, and an interesting setting. The vocabulary was extensive and sophisticated. I'm looking forward to the next 3 books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Purchased this book before last Christmas and could not seem to get interested. Picked it up again in January and could not put it down until Folly and Glory. I hope this is not the last time McMurty tells a story of the old west.
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NJG More than 1 year ago
This was a hard book for me to get into...once I did it was a good read.
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FreddyJM More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, and now have purchased the entire series. It's both amusing and yet tragic, as the story unfolds about the Berrybender family and all the characters they encounter.
BAM97702 More than 1 year ago
I was bored quickly and the, unnecessary, overuse of comas left me feeling, more than once, and I can't be alone, annoyed and, on more the. One occasion, turned off...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is loosely based on historical accounts of the struggles of life in the early days of the wilds of America. Insert a big family and their servants of a rather stuffy English semi-royalty, and the mix can be a blast - or tragic. Funny, poignant, interesting, sad - all at once. The characters are easy to like - even the not-so-nice ones. Actual historical characters are involved all throughout the whole series of four books, and it is well worth your time to read all four of them - in order, of course. The only issue is that while a lot of the characters really lived in the right times in the right places, they didn't really do almost all the things portrayed in the books. Putting the facts aside, it seems that if events happened a bit different, it is believable that the real characters might have done what the book characters did. I heartily recommend this series. Get them all, read them, digest the lifes and times, and go back and re-read them. In fact, I have yet to read a book by Larry McMurtry that I did not enjoy completely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As soon as i finished the last page of the last novel, i started sin killer again immediately. It was such a hard world to leave behind, i wasnt ready. Now, every 5 years or so, i can read them again (thanks to a poor memory!) Strongly recommended for any age, any sex, any one who loves fiction OR non-fiction, and a great and.advemture as well as strong character.stories.
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AdrianasBiggestFan More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this series by McMurtry introducing us to the eccentric, over-the-top Berrybender Clan! What could be better than intwining real life American West heroes and characters with the fantastic detailing of this amazing family! The adventures end to soon with the end of the series! Come on we're waiting for more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
atzbech More than 1 year ago
This book is a wonderful read. So interesting that I was astonished to find I was reading the last page! Can't wait to order the next book in this series. Yes, it's different from Lonesome Dove which was an excellent novel, but Sin Killer is a great story about the early white man in the "wild" west.
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