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5.0 1
by Larry Watson

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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 Justice -- a stunning prequel that illuminates the Hayden clan's early years and the circumstances that


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 Justice -- 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 aura of privilege and power that doesn't stop at the Montana border, even when an ill-fated hunting trip makes them temporary outlaws. But what it means to bear the name is something each generation must discover for itself. From Julian, the hard-bitten and blustery patriarch, to Gail, Sheriff Wesley Hayden's spirited wife and moral compass, Larry Watson gives breath and blood to a remarkable family's struggles and rewards, and opens an evocative window on the very heart of the American West.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Montana 1948, Watson's previous novel, was a sleeper that booksellers boosted to major sales. In this finely crafted prequel to that book, Watson fleshes out the lives of county sheriff Julian Hayden and his Montana clan. As the episodic narrative opens, in 1924, Hayden's spoiled, headstrong, horny teenage sons, Wesley and Frank, get involved in a foolish escapade in North Dakota. Thrown into a freezing jail cell, they discover that even their politically connected father's influence has its limits. The story then doubles back to 1899 and Julian's frontier life as a struggling homesteader and rancher, newly resettled from Iowa with his widowed mother. As the action gradually moves into the 1930s, Wesley, now a sensitive and softhearted but troubled man, succeeds his father as county sheriff. Hoping to break her husband loose from the influence of his arrogant, domineering father, Wesley's levelheaded wife, Gail, tries to get him to open up, to show affection toward their infant son. Surprises and scenes of dramatic power punctuate the narrative, as when newlywed Julian pulls a gun on his hostile father-in-law, or when Len McAuley, Julian's hawk-faced, drunken deputy, burns with unrequited love for Gail. Throughout, Watson writes with ruthless honesty about his characters' stunted dreams, unpredictable emotions and outbursts of senseless violence, showing once again that he understands not only the West but the untamed hearts that have roamed it. (Feb.)
Library Journal
While Watson's last novel (Montana 1948, LJ 9/15/93) was driven by plot, he now emphasizes character with equally fascinating results. From 1899 to 1937, the Hayden family dominates the residents of small-town Bentrock, Montana. Patriarch Julian runs both family and town with an iron fist, a velvet glove, and an eye for personal public relations. His elder son, Frank, is charismatic and self-important, while his younger son, Wesley (hero of Montana 1948), is more thoughtful and introspective. Hayden's wives Enid Garling and Gail Berdahl, along with Deputy Sheriff Len McAuley, round out the main characters. Watson focuses on significant events in the lives of each, which for the men seem to center on an image of the female body. This novel can stand on its own, but reading it in conjunction with the earlier book (which takes place ten years after this one closes) results in an absorbing family saga-the beginnings, one hopes, of a northwestern version of Rolando Hinojosa's "South Texas Klail City Death Trip" series. Highly recommended.-Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib., New York
School Library Journal
YA-Stories about men's relationships with their fathers always appeal to YAs, and this Western will be no exception. It opens in 1924 with Sheriff Julian Hayden's two teenage sons going on a hunting trip to North Dakota with their friends. Their father's word is law at home and in their hometown of Bentrock, Montana, and when they get in trouble, they learn that his influence extends into neighboring states as well. Next, readers are taken back to 1899 for the story of Julian Hayden as he moves west, makes a new life homesteading on the frontier, and begins a family. The book ends in the 1930s with a section told through the eyes of Len McAuley, Julian's deputy. Major and minor characters are well developed through dramatic scenes; believable dialogue; and layers of telling detail about their dreams, emotions, and violent outbursts. The sense of both place and time-the beauty and power of the climate and wide-open spaces-is very strong. Teens will like the episodic structure-the stories are very closely connected and they all examine different aspects of the family's relationships. This prequel to Montana 1948 (Milkweed, 1993) is a readable, well-written novel for leisure reading and historical fiction assignments.-Patricia Q. Noonan, Prince William Public Library, Manassas, VA
Ellen Akins
Though not sentimental, and certainly not simple, [Justice is] bound to touch a nostalgic spot in readers like small towns and wide-open, wild spaces like these with a simpler time....That Mr. Watson is about to capitalize on this myth -- and the yearning that attends it -- even as he begins to lie to it is further evidence of his subtelty and skill. -- The New York Times Book Review
Tim McLaurin
A worthy collection, filled with rapid prose sometimes as biting as a Northern plains wind....Justice explains much of the history of Montana 1948...[and] demonstrates...that defining one's manhood, and achieving a fragile balance between race and gender that challenged all Americans...Watson writes of people universal in their faults and virtues, a community that cannot be defined or limited to one age or genre. -- Washington Post Book World

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Abridged, 2 cassettes, 3 hrs.

Meet the Author

Born in Rugby, North Dakota and raised in Bismarck, Larry Watson received his B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of North Dakota and his Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Utah. Watson is the author of the novel In a Dark Time, a chapbook of poetry, Leaving Dakota, and the novel Montana 1948, which won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, The Mountains & Plains Bookseller Association Regional Book Award, and was named one of the Best Books of 1993 by both Library Journal and Booklist. He teaches English at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and makes his home in Stevens Point, where he is at work on a new novel entitled White Crosses, to be published by Pocket Books.

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Justice 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Awesome Read, clear, capturing life as it really is.