I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish Justice Hall last night””it was a terrific read. However, I’m going to have to rule against the mystery note writer: under no circumstances should you skip ahead in the series to this book. At a minimum, you need to have read O Jerusalem, to make the acquaintance of Mahmoud and Ali Hazr, or you won’t understand the enormity of the sacrifice each is making for the sake of family. Yes, Russell alludes to it, but it’s the difference between being told that something momentous has happened, and witnessing it yourself. (And, of course, you should have read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, the first in the series; the events of O Jerusalem occur during a lacuna in that story.)
The mysteries underlying the story were well-plotted and intriguing. I admit I saw the big twist coming from chapters away, and I had picked out the correct killer, but that didn’t diminish my pleasure in following Russell to the revelation of both. That’s what makes this a series that will stay in my collection, when so many others get read once and passed along: it’s not really the mysteries that keep my attention, but the way they unravel and the pleasure of spending time with the interesting people King creates.
There are only two books left in the series (as it stands today), so I’m taking a break from King for a bit, to slow the arrival of the sad day when I no longer have a new Mary Russell novel to look forward to. It’s a challenge, though: the eighth novel is set in San Francisco, which lovely city I’ll be visiting with the Countess next week. I’m sorely tempted to rush through (or skip) #7 and take #8 on the trip, so I can trail Mary around San Francisco as she works the case.