Picks and Pans Review: Sin Killer
Despite its rather ominous title, McMurtry's newest is an adventure-filled, lighthearted farce. The Berry-benders, a comically dysfunctional British family of aristocrats, head to the U.S. in 1832 for a Missouri river expedition. With the family's guides, servants and assorted excesses of nobility, the story is like Gosford Park on a steamboat. McMurtry fillets his characters with wit: One woman among the Indians says she'd like to burn a white woman because "the people would enjoy a good burning, before it gets too cold."
A mismatched love affair grounds this Old World meets Old West tale, though the helter-skelter side action is as entertaining. While the boat is stuck on the river, the story's pace is like a ride through rapids. Characters meet an amazing variety of deaths, though McMurtry smartly saves a few: He is planning three more novels about the Berrybenders. (Simon and Schuster, $25)
Bottom Line: West world class act