Enter Justice Hall, a book that combines two of my favorite Middle Eastern characters from the series with my all-time favorite mystery setting, a grand English manor. Upon first glance, it's not exactly a setting portmanteau I'd think would work, but King manages to make the two diametrically opposed worlds and the tension between them play together wonderfully. It’s a neat trick, and I can’t help but mentally tip my hat to author Laurie R. King for pulling it off.
The plot has all the elements needed to make it a fun, albeit a tad predictable, read for the mystery lover. Secret passages, a traditional English hunt, a huge, grand gala, a war-torn love story, family secrets. Like a traditional dish of comfort food untouched by the gluten free movement that uses real butter, King has crafted a shamelessly indulgent (and satisfying) piece of genre fiction.
There is a panoply of interesting, diverse characters, a well-plotted, complex mystery and several other artfully constructed settings besides Justice Hall as well. I found some of family genealogy aspects yawn-inducing but I know plenty of people simply love that kind of thing. And, in all fairness, it is the focal point upon which the plot turns.
Another compelling element of this installment is how King handles the time period. The struggle of an upper-class society attempting to find its footing in the turbulent wake of social changes brought by World War I is not a focal point of the book but is adequately explored through telling details such as the preparations for a huge party and the more casual dress and demeanor of houseguests. (I tried not to think this installment was not a mercenary attempt by King to capitalize on the Downton Abbey craze).
 My obsession and love of the Middle East began after reading a special edition of National Geographic from my grandfather. (Oh how I loved his bi-yearly deliveries of that heavy stack of glossy, wonder-filled pages!)
Specifically, a special edition on the disappearing traditions of the Middle East. I think I was in third or fourth grade, possibly younger. There was one particular photo of a lone, robed Pashtun chief, robes billowing, walking away from the camera amidst gaping-mouthed modern tourists on a paved road that I will never forget. But it was the sidebars that got me – the folklore, the beautiful script I couldn’t read, the explosive colored mountains of spices, intriguing stories of women with "faces like the moon" and treasure that was likely to be coffee or spices as jewels...I was determined to travel the Middle East as a nomadic adventurer when I grew up.
Obviously, that is a dream deferred for a litany of reasons, but with every report of ISIS destroying Syrian artifacts or other Middle Eastern treasures, my heart simply breaks.