Not bad work for a man who's published as many long fiction works as has McMurtry in his life. Glad I read it.
Much of McMurtry's charm is his ability to blend horrific, gritty reality with humor. Sinkiller, the first book in the Berrybender narratives, sometimes goes overboard on both counts. The story is both too awful AND too funny to put down.
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."
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