Justice Hall (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #6)

Justice Hall (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #6)

by Laurie R. King

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Overview

Justice Hall (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #6) by Laurie R. King

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Laurie R. King's Pirate King.

Only hours after Holmes and Russell return from solving one murky riddle on the moor, another knocks on their front door...literally. It’s a mystery that begins during the Great War, when Gabriel Hughenfort died amidst scandalous rumors that have haunted the family ever since. But it’s not until Holmes and Russell arrive at Justice Hall, a home of unearthly perfection set in a garden modeled on Paradise, that they fully understand the irony echoed in the family motto, Justicia fortitudo mea est:

A trail of ominous clues comprise a mystery that leads from an English hamlet to the city of Paris to the wild prairie of the New World. The trap is set, the game is afoot; but can Holmes and Russell catch an elusive killer--or has the murderer caught them?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553897296
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/04/2003
Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series , #6
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 46,588
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen Mary Russell mysteries, five contemporary novels featuring Kate Martinelli, the Stuyvesant & Grey novels Touchstone and The Bones of Paris, and the acclaimed A Darker Place, Folly, and Keeping Watch. She lives in Northern California.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Home, my soul sighed. I stood on the worn flagstones and breathed in the many and varied fragrances of the old flint-walled cottage: Fresh beeswax and lavender told me that Mrs. Hudson had indulged in an orgy of housecleaning in the freedom of our prolonged absence; the smoke from the wood fire seemed cleaner than the heavy peat-tinged air I'd been inhaling in recent weeks; the month-old pipe tobacco was a ghost of its usual self; and beneath it all the faint, dangerous, seductive tang of chemicals from the laboratory overhead.

And scones.

Holmes grumbled his way past, jostling me from my reverie. I stepped back out into the crisp, sea-scented afternoon to thank my farm manager, Patrick, for meeting us at the station, but he was already away down the drive, so I closed the heavy door, slid its two-hundred-year-old bolt, and leant my back against the wood with all the mingled relief and determination of a feudal lord shutting out an unruly mob.

Domus, my mind offered. Familia, my heart replied. Home.

"Mrs. Hudson!" Holmes shouted from the main room. "We're home." His unnecessary declaration (she knew we were coming; else why the fresh baking?) was accompanied by the characteristic thumps and cracks of possessions being shed onto any convenient surface, freshly polished or not. At the sound of her voice answering from the kitchen, I had to smile. How many times had I returned here, to that ritual exchange? Dozens: following an absence of two days in London when the only things shed were furled umbrella and silk hat, or after three months in Europe when two burly men had helped to haul inside our equipage, consisting of a trunk filled with mud-caked climbing equipment, three crates of costumes, many arcane and ancient volumes of worldly wisdom, and two-thirds of a motor-cycle.

The only time I had come to this house with less than joy was the day when Holmes and my nineteen-year-old self had been acting out a play of alienation, and I could see in his haggard features the toll it was taking on him. Other than that time, to enter the house was to feel the touch of comforting hands. Home.

I caught up my discarded rucksack and followed Holmes through to the fire; to tea, and buttered scones, and welcome.

Hot tea and scalding baths, conversations with Mrs. Hudson, and the accumulated post carried us to dinner: urgent enquiries from my solicitor regarding a property sale in California; a cheerful letter from Holmes' old comrade-at-arms, Dr Watson, currently on holiday in Egypt; a demand from Scotland Yard for pieces of evidence in regard to a case over the summer. Over the dinner table, however, the momentum of normality came to its peak over Mrs. Hudson's fiery curry, faltered with the apple tart, and then receded, leaving us washed up in our chairs before the fire, listening to the silence.

I sighed to myself. Each time, I managed to forget this phase--or not forget, exactly, just to hope the interim would be longer, the transition less of a jolt. Instead, the drear aftermath of a case came down with all the gentleness of a collapsing wall.

One would think that, following several taut, urgent weeks of considerable physical discomfort on Dartmoor, a person would sink into the undemanding Downland quiet with a bone-deep pleasure, wrapping indolence around her like a fur coat, welcoming a period of blank inertia, the gears of the mind allowed to move slowly, if at all. One would think.

Instead of which, every time we had come away from a case there had followed a period of bleak, hungry restlessness, characterised by shortness of temper, an inability to settle to a task, and the need for distraction--for which long, difficult walks or hard physical labour, experience taught me, were the only relief. And now, following not one but two, back-to-back cases, with the client of the summer's case long dead and that of the autumn now taken to his Dartmoor deathbed, this looked to be a grim time indeed. To this point, the worst such dark mood that I had experienced was that same joyless period just under five years before, when I was nineteen and we had returned from two months of glorious, exhilarating freedom wandering Palestine under the unwilling tutelage of a pair of infuriating Arabs, Ali and Mahmoud Hazr, only to return to an English winter, a foe after our skins, and a necessary pretence of emotional divorcement from Holmes. I am no potential suicide, but I will say that acting one at the time would not have proved difficult.

Hard work, as I say, helped; intense experiences helped, too: scalding baths, swims through an icy sea, spicy food (such as the curry Mrs. Hudson had given us: How well she knew Holmes!), bright colours. My skin still tingled from the hot water, and I had donned a robe of brilliant crimson, but the coffee in my cup was suddenly insipid. I jumped up and went into the kitchen, coming back ten minutes later with two cups of steaming hot sludge that had caused Mrs. Hudson to look askance, although she had said nothing. I put one cup beside Holmes' brandy glass and settled down on a cushion in front of the fire with the other, wrapping both hands around it and breathing in the powerful fragrance.

"What do you call this?" Holmes asked sharply.

"A weak imitation of Arab coffee," I told him. "Although I think Mahmoud used cardamom, and the closest Mrs. Hudson had was cinnamon."

He raised a thoughtful eyebrow at me, peered dubiously into the murky depths of the cup, and sipped tentatively. It was not the real thing, but it was strong and vivid on the palate, and for a moment the good English oak beams over our heads were replaced by the ghost of a goat's hair tent, and the murmur of the flames seemed to hold the ebb and flow of a foreign tongue. New flavours, new dangers, and the sun of an ancient land, the land of my people; trials and a time of great personal discovery; our Bedu companions, Mahmoud the rock and Ali the flame. Odd, I thought, how the taciturn older brother had possessed such a subtle hand at the cook-fire, and had made such an art of the coffee ritual.

No, the dark substance in our cups was by no means the real thing, but both of us drank to the dregs, while images from the weeks in Palestine flickered through the edges of my mind: dawn over the Holy City and mid-night in its labyrinthine bazaar; the ancient stones of the Western Wall and the great cavern quarry undermining the city's northern quarter; Ali polishing the dust from his scarlet Egyptian boots; Mahmoud's odd, slow smile of approval; Holmes' bloody back when we rescued him from his tormentor; General Allenby and the well-suited Bentwiches and the fair head of T. E. Lawrence, and--and then Holmes rattled his newspaper and the images vanished. I fluffed my fingers through my drying hair and picked up my book. Silence reigned, but for the crackle of logs and the turn of pages. After a few minutes, I chuckled involuntarily. Holmes looked up, startled.

"What on earth are you reading?" he demanded.

"It's not the book, Holmes, it's the situation. All you need is an aged retriever lying across your slippers, we'd be a portrait of family life. The artist could call it After a Long Day; he'd sell hundreds of copies."

"We've had a fair number of long days," he noted, although without complaint. "And I was just reflecting how very pleasant it was, to be without demands. For a short time," he added, as aware as I that the respite would be brief between easy fatigue and the onset of bleak boredom. I smiled at him.

"It is nice, Holmes, I agree."

"I find myself particularly enjoying the delusory and fleeting impression that my wife spends any time at all seated at the feet of her husband. One might almost be led to think of the word 'subservient,' " he added, "seeing your position at the moment."

"Don't push it, Holmes," I growled. "In a few more minutes my hair will be--"

My words and the moment were chopped short by the crash of a fist against the front door. The entire house seemed to shudder convulsively in reaction, and then Holmes sighed, called to Mrs. Hudson that he would answer it, and leant over to deposit his newspaper on the table. However, I was already on my feet; it is one thing to relax in the presence of one's husband and his long-time housekeeper, but quite another to have one's neighbour or farm manager walk in and find one in dishabille upon the floor.

"I'll see who it is, Holmes," I said. He rose, maintaining the pipe in his hand as a clear message to our intruder that he had no intention of interrupting his evening's rest, and tightening the belt of his smoking jacket with a gesture of securing defences, but he stayed where he was while I went to repel boarders at our door.

The intruder was neither a neighbour nor a lost and benighted Downs rambler, nor even Patrick come for assistance with an escaped cow or a chimney fire. It was a stranger dressed for Town, a thick-set, clean-shaven, unevenly swarthy figure in an ill-fitting and out-of-date city suit that exuded the odour of mothballs, wearing a stiff collar such as even Holmes no longer used and a brilliant emerald green necktie that had been sampled by moth. The hat on his head was an equally ancient bowler, and his right hand was in the process of extending itself to me--not to shake, but openhanded, as a plea. A thin scar travelled up the side of the man's brown wrist to disappear under the frayed cuff of the shirt, a thin scar that caught at my gaze in a curious fashion.

"You must help me," the stranger said. For some peculiar reason, my ears added a slight lisp to his pronunciation, which was not actually there.

"I beg your pardon, sir," I began to say, and then my eyes went back to the darkness on his temple that in the shadowy doorway I had taken for hair oil. "You are hurt!" I exclaimed, then turned to shout over my shoulder, "Holmes!"

"You must come with me," the man demanded, his command as urgent as his fist on the wood had been. Then to my confusion he added a name I had not heard in nearly five years. "Amir," he murmured, and his shoulder drifted sideways, to prop itself against the door frame.

I stared at him, moving to one side so the interior light might fall more brightly on his features. I knew that face: Beardless as it was, its missing front teeth restored, the hair at its sides conventionally trimmed, and framed by an incongruous suit and an impossible hat, it was nonetheless the face of a man with whom I had travelled in close proximity and uneasy intimacy for a number of weeks. I had worked with him, shed blood with him. I was, in fact, responsible for that narrow scar on his wrist.

"Ali?" I said in disbelief. "Ali Hazr?" His mouth came open as if to speak, but instead he stumbled, as if the door frame had abruptly given way; his right hand fluttered up towards his belt, but before his fingers could reach his waistcoat, his eyes rolled back in his head, his knees turned to water, and fourteen and a half stone of utterly limp intruder collapsed forward into my arms.

CHAPTER TWO

The man lying between the crisp white sheets of the guest bed was very like Ali Hazr, but also distinctly unlike the Arab ruffian Holmes and I had known. In fact, I had nearly convinced myself that our visitor was merely a stranger with a strong resemblance to the man--a brother, perhaps--when a jab from the doctor's sewing needle brought him near to consciousness, and he growled a string of florid Arabic curses.

It was Ali, all right.

Before Holmes' pet medical man had clipped the thread from his half-dozen stitches, the patient had lapsed back into the restless swoon that had gripped him from the moment he fell through our door. Seeing his tossing head and hearing the apparent gibberish from his lips, the doctor reached back into his satchel for an hypodermic needle. With that, Ali finally succumbed to oblivion.

I adjusted the pad of clean towelling underneath his bandaged scalp and followed the two men out of the room, leaving the door ajar.

Downstairs in the kitchen, Dr Amberley was scrubbing the blood from his hands and giving Holmes a set of unnecessary instructions.

"I'd say his concussion is a mild one, but you'd best keep an eye on him, and if his pupils become uneven, or if he seems over-lethargic, telephone to me immediately. The dose of morphia I gave him was small, because of the concussion--it ought to wear off in three or four hours, although he may well sleep longer than that. I suppose you wish me to say nothing about this visitor of yours?"

"I think not. At this point I have no idea why he's here or what happened to him, and I'd not want to invite an attacker to join us. Although by the appearance of his overcoat, I should say this happened far from here."

It was true. Ali's incongruous city suit had been stiff with dried blood, his shirt collar saturated to the shoulders. Whatever had brought him here, desperation might well follow on his heels.

When the doctor had gone and Mrs. Hudson was tut-tutting over the ruined clothing, Holmes picked up his hastily abandoned pipe, knocked it out, and began to tamp fresh tobacco into the bowl. I went through the house to secure the doors and windows and draw the curtains, just in case.

"It has to be something to do with Mahmoud," I said when I came back. "Ali would not have come to England without him, and would not have come to us for help except if Mahmoud were in grave danger."

"It is difficult to imagine the one Hazr without the other," Holmes agreed. He got the pipe going, then resumed his three-week-old newspaper.

"But, shouldn't we do something? He may sleep for hours."

"What do you propose?"

"We could telephone to Mycroft."

He did lower the paper a fraction to consider the proposition, then shook his head.

"My brother is in London, unless he's left since this morning. If Ali wanted Mycroft, he'd have stopped there. He wanted us, which meant that either he thought we would not respond to a mere telegraph or telephone message, or secrecy was foremost. No, Ali came from Berkshire to see us, not to speak with Mycroft. We shall have to be patient."


From the Hardcover edition.

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Justice Hall (Mary Russell Series #6) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was excellent, especially in connection with O, Jerusalem (which was also amazing.) In fact, that was one of the things I appreciated about this installment - we got to see more of some great characters besides Russell and Holmes. This is by far one of my favorite books in this series
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved JUSTICE HALL. I thought the mystery itself, the dialogue, the twists and shocks, the compelling emotional drama all set it above the last two installments. I haven't enjoyed one of Ms. King's Mary Russell novels so much since the third. I am a big fan and can't wait to read THE GAME.
RevStyles More than 1 year ago
Usually when I am reading a book I am already anticipating my next read, and eager to finish the current book so that I can move on. However in this case I was a bit melancholy when I was nearly finished. The reason: I was so caught up in the characters, the setting, the mood of the story that I just wanted to remain there a while longer. Invoking that sort of feeling is quite an accomplishment for an author. I feel no need to provide a story synopsis. That can be found elsewhere. I would rather put my recommendation in context. After the first Mary Russell book, "The Beekeeper's Apprentice," I was intrigued enough by the characters to read further. The transition made in book 2, "A Monstrous Regiment of Women," was a bit unsettling and I didn't know if I would continue with the series. Book 3, "A Letter of Mary," was more pleasant, but not particularly compelling. Even so I had gotten enough pleasure from these first three to continue the series. By Book 4, "The Moor," I think Laurie R. King has settled in comfortably with the character of Mary Russell, and is crafting excellent stories worthy of the Holmes legacy. I would call book 5, "O Jerusalem," a MUST read before embarking on this one, as there are character continuations that should be followed from one to the next. So while all of the books in the series are worth your time, I suggest that, minimally, you read "O Jerusalem" and "Justice Hall." They are absolutely absorbing reads.
LindaSuzane More than 1 year ago
JUSTICE HALL is the sixth book in the series about Sherlock Holmes and his wife Mary Russell. Yes, a much older Sherlock Holmes, now in his fifties, has taken on an apprentice and a wife, in the much younger Mary Russell. The stories are told from Mary's viewpoint, as she and Sherlock work together to solve cases. This one reunites Mary and Sherlock with two former friends, but times find them much changed. When Mary and Sherlock knew them, they knew them as Ali and Muhammad, two Beduins who helped them travel through Palestine on a secret mission for Mycroft. At the time Sherlock had his suspicions that the two brothers were not originally Arab as they appeared. And indeed they were not. Now, Ali turns up on the door begging help for Muhammad and looking and sounding like a very proper English gentleman. The problem that Ali needs help with so desperately is the fact that circumstances have demanded that Muhammad resume his old life as Marsh Hughenfort and the death of the heir to the title has made him the seventh Duke. Mary and Sherlock travel to Justice Hall and find a very unhappy man determined to do his duty, even though being away from his beloved desert is killing him. When it becomes clear that they will not be able to change his mind, Sherlock and Mary set out to help by providing Marsh with support during the difficult time and begin investigating the rather suspicious death of the young heir, executed for cowardice during World War I, and the set out to prove whether or not Marsh's heir, the son of his brother, is actually his son. More and more mysteries enter and then someone tries to kill Marsh. And the game is afoot. Laurie E. King has written another great addition to her rather improbable mystery series that takes a very much different look at Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock is still the Sherlock we know and love and yet different. Mary is charming and a very unique modern woman, a true heroine. JUSTICE HALL is very worth reading. Reviewed by Linda Suzane, June 5, 2002. www.midnightblood.com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Mary Russell stories are based on an outrageous premise: that Sherlock Holmes, in his later years, took a young partner who later became his wife. Justice Hall adds an improbability: that characters they met in Oh Jerusalem!, characters deeply rooted in Palestine, have older and deeper roots in England and its history. Making it come off is no small matter, and Laurie King does.

It's set in the aftermath of World War One, and the moods and practices of that war eventually loom large. The author's contemporary attitudes and mores are woven into her character, but not so much as to spoil the story, except perhaps for fans of the purest kind of historical whodunit.

This is an adventure more than a pure mystery; we share Mary Russell's thoughts as she finds the solutions. Still, the possibilities were always there; we are well misdirected. Both the outcome and the path to it make a good tale, well-seasoned in the telling. There are dramatic turns and an unfolding that plays the heartstrings firmly and clearly.

As this series has progressed, Russell's character has moved to the fore; Holmes plays a smaller and smaller part, except as a facilitator with access to Mycroft (and wouldn't that be scandal today) and a well-recognized name. This is as it should be; it's her story. The direct interplay between Holmes and Russell is more limited than in some of the other stories, and that is missed. A Holmesian air lingers about the thing, a comfortable shadow of gaslight and a familiar hint of coal smoke, even as the story reminds us of the social and political upheavals ahead for England.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have ever came across that dealt with the "shot at dawn" issue in the First World War. The why and how of this book in dealing with this was heartbreaking. I have thoroughly enjoyed each of the books in this series, but this one is my favorite. The characters are carried over from "O, Jerusalem!", which was excellent as well and are dealt with consistently and realistically.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was a little disappointed in this effort by Ms. King. While I think it to be a fairly good Mary Russell yarn, the author seems to have forgotten about Sherlock Holmes. He does appear in the work, but only as an aside to Mary, Marsh, Alister and several other charactors. I read 'The Beekeeper's Apprentice' simply because it was Sherlock by a new author. I read the rest of the series because I thought I was lucky enough to find a writer who seemed to be able to captute the essence of Sherlock Holmes. I will read the next book by Ms. King when it is written and released, hoping that she will find Sherlock once more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Four years ago in 1919, Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell were in Palestine working a case. Their paths crossed that of two Arabs, Ali and Mahmoud Hazr, two agents of Mycroft who reported on German movement. These four people worked so closely together, breaking bread watching, each other¿s back and taking care of business that a bond was formed, closer than that of family.

In the present (1923) a knock on the door of Holmes and Russell¿s home reveals a wounded and desperate Ali who says he needs their help. It seems that the Hazr¿s are descendants from one of England¿s oldest families, one who came over with the Conqueror. Mahmoud is now the Seventh Duke of Belleville and he is on the family estate of Justice Hall. Duty forces him to come to England though his heart and soul yearn to be with Ali in Palestine. Mary and Sherlock must find out if there is anyone of the blood to take Marsh¿s place, a job that is fraught with danger and peril.

It¿s hard to imagine any author writing about Sherlock Holmes in a manner that is significantly different than his creator and having it come out fabulous but Laurie R. King makes the impossible possible. JUSTICE HALL is a rich multi-textured tale that is as much a historical mystery as it is a parable of the human condition. This book as well as the series is a must read for Holmes fans as well as anyone who wants to read something unusually good.

Harriet Klausner

MrsLee on LibraryThing 6 days ago
It's time for me to read these stories again, and they are worth the effort.
Kathy89 on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I really enjoy the partnership aspect of Holmes and Russell. This story was a little to long but it was an interesting case involving the death of the heir to Justice Hall during WWI. The knowledge that he married and had a son was revealed rather easily by Russell & Holmes.
jennyo on LibraryThing 12 days ago
This is the sixth book in Laurie R. King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. King has accomplished a very unusual feat amongst mystery series authors; each of her books is better than the last.Chronologically, this book follows the fourth one (The Moor), but it makes perfect sense to read this book immediately following O, Jerusalem. I'd recommend reading those two back to back (not something I normally do with a series).This one also shows off Ms. King's fascination with architecture. I can picture Justice Hall perfectly from her excellent descriptions.I'll admit that I figured out the "surprise" in this one quite early on, but it was still great fun to read. Holmes is in good hands with Ms. King, and Russell is as entertaining as Holmes himself. I'm eagerly looking forward to reading the next book in this series (The Game), but I intend to read Rudyard Kipling's Kim first since he's a major character in that book.
parelle on LibraryThing 13 days ago
One of my favorite Mary Russell books, I think in part because of the wonderful continuation of characters from O Jerusalem - and the story of Gabriel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where Russell and Holmes took care of Ali after he collapsed from his injuries when he arrived at their house.
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I read these on the treadmill--it's my bribe--and I could hardly wait to get on it so I could read the next portion. Excellent characters, fine plot.
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