Author: Laurie R King
Publish Date: 2002
Series: Mary Russell #6
Justice Hall is book six in the Mary Russell series and the timeline gets kinda screwy around this point. Book five, O Jerusalem, backtracks to where the series started with the plot taking place in the middle of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I had assumed that I would be safe skipping book 5 since Justice Hall takes place almost immediately after The Moor (book 4), but it turns out I was wrong.
During The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Mary and Holmes went on a trip to Jerusalem on some business for Holmes’ brother Mycroft. During this trip they made friends with two brothers, Ali and Mahmoud, one of which turns up bleeding on their doorstep. The injured Ali, has come to ask for Holmes and Mary’s help in convincing his brother to return to Jerusalem. Owing Ali and Mahmoud their loyalty for the help they offered all those years ago, Holmes and Mary set out on a journey that both of them view as rather pointless. However, when they arrive at the sprawling mansion that Mahmoud has taken up residence in they are disturbed by the immense change in their friend. Shackled with an outdated responsibility to his family, Mahmoud has become quite the miserable drunk. Wanting to help, Mary and Holmes attempt to figure out how Mahmoud can return to Jerusalem with Ali.
The story here had an interesting tone. This is the first novel in the series where King gives us a glimpse of the roaring 20’s the way I typically imagine it, with extravagant parties and a cast of eclectic characters. It was pretty amusing to see serious Mary navigate her way through the fast-paced party atmosphere that this investigation foisted on her. Her horror/amusement at the parties and people found in them (paired with Holmes dodging out of going to the shindigs with her) was a definite highlight. It also offered a nice contrast to the more depressing aspects of the mystery that involved a World War I execution.
Even though I was a little lost in parts of this novel because I hadn’t read the previous book, I still really enjoyed Justice Hall. However, if you’re reading this series or thinking about starting it, I would recommend reading O Jerusalem before diving into this one.