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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  431 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
The author of the prize-winning national bestseller Montana 1948 returns with a stunning prequel of the memorable Hayden clan's early years.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 1st 1996 by Washington Square Press (first published December 16th 1994)
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Do you know how many books have the word justice in their titles? I’ll tell you: a bunch.

Okay, I’ll narrow that a bit. I did a search on Goodreads and it generated 100 pages with 20 entries to each page. Do you know how many that is? I’ll tell you: a bunch.

Even so, I venture to say that Larry Watson’s book, Justice, is nevertheless unique among that bunch. It is a prequel to his best known novel, Montana 1948. But what makes it unique is that it is not a novel. It is a selection of short stories
Richard Derus
Nov 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Larry Watson's bestselling novel Montana 1948 was acclaimed as "a work of art" (Susan Petro, San Francisco Chronicle), a prize-winning evocation of a time, a place, and a family. Now Watson returns to Montana 1948's vast landscape with a stunning prequel that illuminates the Hayden clan's early years and the circumstances that led to the events of Montana 1948.

In Montana, the Hayden name is law. For the Hayden boys, Wesley and Frank, their legacy carries an
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Howard
These short stories provide a backdrop for most of the main characters in Montana 1948, proving the writerly advice that an author must know the backstories of his characters even though the reader may never discover them. At least in this case, it proved an interesting exercise for this reader to be able to do so.

Justice in these tales is held in the hands of one family, specifically in the hands of one man, the patriarch of the Hayden family. Though his office is in the courthouse and his son
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again I'm the odd person out on this duo. I liked this one far more than Montana. The prequel of short stories is crisper. More insightful, just a better window into the Bentrock, Montana world of these periods during the earliest parts of the 20th century. The coming of age progression of Montana doesn't have the spectrum view that this one does.

You get to feel and view emotional positives and also the practical voids and terrible negative personality flaws in nearly all the characters th
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
So, I am not a huge fan of short stories. I enjoy getting into a book, rather than having little vignettes. But I really like Watson and I really liked Montana 1948.

This book is not a collection of short stories; it is a family history of sorts. These are all stand alone stories (sort of), but they are also interesting and compelling back story to Montana. This is like sitting around at a family reunion and having the old folks tell you about their earlier years. All of these stories could have
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Having just finished Watson's Montana 1948 and wanting more, more, more of that book and its characters, I jumped right into Justice. Therefore, it is impossible for me to opine on this as a stand alone book of stories. I do recommend reading the opening tale in which the brothers, Frank and Wesley, and two friends as teens go on a hunting trip. Because of a blizzard they take motel room, and I'll just say, misbehave. They end up in a jail outside their sheriff's fathers jurisdiction. The ending ...more
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Justice is the prequel to Watson’s excellent novel Montana 1948 and provides backstories for the Hayden family and friends featured in the earlier work. I read Montana 1948 several years ago and it remains one of my favorite books. While Justice doesn’t rise to the same heights, it is definitely a worthwhile read. The novel’s structure, each chapter devoted to the topic of justice from the perspective of a different narrator, reads more like a collection of really good short stories. I would rec ...more
Rob Turck
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I was really looking forward to this as Montana 1948 could be my favourite book of all time. I can't believe it took me all these years to realise that Larry Watson had written about the Hayden circle twice!

I went into it knowing that, given my love for the first, it was not likely to leave such a mark on me. Unfortunately it has not left much of a mark at all. I think his character portraits in Montana 1948 are so precise, so beautifully rendered, that this book was just superfluous.

In short,
James Buscher
Jun 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2017
I'm not sure what there is to like in this book. I didn't like any of the characters. They were all some combination of racist, sexist, violent, and weak. I felt bad for some of them, but didn't see an once of justice delivered to them for their clear failings. I liked Montana 1948, but this was a laborious and aimless read, populated by characters I'd rather not know.
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a series of seven interconnected short stories that's also a prequel to the author's novel "Montana 1948." Set in the far northeastern corner of Montana, across the state line from North Dakota and just south of the Canadian border, these stories cover four brief decades from the area's first settling in the late nineteenth century to the mid-1930s. Appearing in all of them are members of the Hayden family, chiefly father Julian and son Wesley, who are each employed as the county's sheri ...more
Chris White
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Well-written from sentence to sentence but mostly pointless as a book or as a story, at least unless you read the previously released and award-winning sequel, Montana 1948.

Watson has chops, for sure, but this volume is just a collection of vignettes that serve only to flesh out that previously published award-winner's details. I closed the back cover of the book a little frustrated, saying, "Well, that sucks. Too artsy-phartsy for me."

I gave it two stars because at least these little episodes
May 14, 2009 rated it liked it
So far I am enjoying this one. I did go directly to the library to find it when I finished 'Montana, 1948' because I enjoyed that one so much. Larry Watson is really great at character development. This is a preclude to that one, so it is interesting to read further about the characters from this small Montana town.

Last night I finished this one. I'm surprised it took me so long, I read it when I had some free time. The book that this is a preclude to is 'Montana 1948.' That one was an incredib
Mar 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: midwest-fiction
I give the first two stories 2 stars and the last few 4 stars. Having loved Montana 1948 I thought I would give this prequel a shot. The first two stories added a little extra characterization to Frank, and Julian Hayden. Unfortunately these first stories were exposition heavy and a little hard to get into for me. The last few stories, especially the one about the deputy Len were excellent. Len was always a character I wanted to know more about, and Watson didn't disappoint with his story.

To fin
Sarah Honenberger
Mar 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Age 18 and older
After reading Montana 1948 years ago, I picked this book up at a library used book sale in Palmetto, Florida during my writer's retreat. While the heart-pounding tension in Watson's scenes is here also, in this book written earlier, but set later, the main character, Wesley, is not so likeable. In Montana 1948 he struggles with issues of prejudice and loyalty to family with a purity of boyhood idealism. In Justice, a series of stories from different character's points of view over a span of 20 y ...more
Joe Stack
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
To really appreciate this story, the reader should read "Montana 1948" first because the stories in this book are the backstories to the family in "Montana 1948." As I have found with other stories by Larry Watson, he writes beautifully. Every word counts and drives the stories forward. He is a master wordsmith. These are stories for a reader who just likes the written word, and wants to learn more about the human condition.
Book Concierge
This prequel to "Montana 1948" helps give us the background on the Hayden family and how they came to be the adults we find in that other work.

This book is more of a young adult novel about the relationship between fathers and sons, and between brothers. There is some great dialogue. And Watson has a talent for describing time & place. But, in my opinion, "Montana 1948" is the better book.

Jan 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Finished this book this evening, years after reading Watson's Montana 1948. Justice is a prequel to that novel. It is told in choppy episodes, developing the family character that defines Montana 1948. The novel does not stand on its own, and even though I enjoyed Montana 1948, I would have liked the author to develop more of the story line in Justice.
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book and definitely worth reading as a prequel to Montana 1948, which is outstanding. The author has a fine style of capturing the voices of the Hayden family, their relations and how they came to be.
I read American Boy first, which is one slice of life/coming of age tale and got me hooked on Larry Watson.
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
I bought this book because I loved Watson's first book, Montana 1948. At first glance, this book appeared to be a prequel, but now that I'm halfway through I see that it's so much more than that. The author carefully crafts each character from the Hayden family through vignettes of their lives on a Montana ranch. Each story is beautifully written. I love visiting with these characters again.
A series of episodes dating from 1899, this is the story of the Hayden family's early years. Each chapter deals with a different story and it all hangs together nicely. Not gripping but really well written. Set in Montana.
Jun 06, 2013 rated it liked it
This prequel to Montana 1948 (written after it was published) provided some much useful background/perspective to the characters whose POV weren't given in Montana 1948. I had wanted to know some more about the characters, but these glimpses into their pasts helped develop them a bit more.
Oct 17, 2010 rated it liked it
I listened to this on tape on the way back from Missouri and I liked it but I felt like the ending abruptly ended..I thought it was a little odd at the end.
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
didn't really like this book. i read it because it was recommended after i'd liked a different book. not a good recommendation
Jul 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Larry Watson, who knows and loves Montana, writes sparse, harsh, and wonderful stories. Here is one excellent collection
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Interlinked short stories of generations of Montana lawmen.
Oct 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Raw and rugged like much of Big Sky Country.
Nov 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Not as good as Montana, which I loved. Seems tacked on, and doesn't really add much. Not sure why it was written. To cash in on the previous book's success, maybe? Disappointing in any case.
Kevin Revolinski
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Be sure to read Montana 1948 first. These related short stories are great and stand on their own, but are a prequel to the perfectly written novel.
Dec 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sequel to Montana, 1948. Contains short story for each of the characters in Montana, 1948. Offers additional insight, and fleshes out each character in the story.
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Larry Watson was born in 1947 in Rugby, North Dakota. He grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, and was educated in its public schools. Larry married his high school sweetheart, Susan Gibbons, in 1967. He received his BA and MA from the University of North Dakota, his Ph.D. from the creative writing program at the University of Utah, and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Ripon College. Watson ...more
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