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 with each told from the point of view of one of the main characters in Montana 1948 – with two exceptions.
One exception is the narrator of the earlier novel who is looking back to the summer of 1948 and so we already know his back story (assuming one has read the novel first). The other exception is the most enigmatic character in the novel. Oh, he appears in nearly all the short stories in Justice, but none is told from his point of view.
I found that odd – but intriguing. So I went looking for an explanation; and I found one. In an interview Watson said that he could never find his way into the character’s mind and that was the reason for the omission.
You often hear writers say that characters sometimes take on a life of their own and thus the writer is forced to follow along. But here is a complex character who not only remains an enigma to the reader, but also to his creator.
I recommend both of these books, for Watson is a talented writer. However, even though each can be enjoyed as a standalone, I think that reading both adds to the enjoyment of reading each.