A friend of mine with a more literary bend (he has his MFA and teaches English at a local college) loaned me Montana 1948, by Larry Watson. Not my typical fare, but he recommended it highly and pointed out that it was a quick read (it took maybe three hours).
After reading it, wholeheartedly agree with his assessment--what an excellent book! The prose was lean and tight, with pearls of description that brought rural Montana to life through just a few pen strokes. The core of the story is about family relations and the prejudices of a small town. I was impressed by how little time and text it took Watson to establish the complex relationships between the half dozen different family members. He brought them to life in a direct way that I admire.
As the afterward in the edition I read noted, it is also an excellent example of fiction which addresses a difficult subject--specifically the abuse of Native Americans--without preaching. It comes in to tell a story, builds the story effectively, and in the course of that reveals the injustice of the not-so distant past. Montana 1948 is an excellent novel, and I'm going to be looking up more of Watson's work in the near future.