Justice Hall

Each Tuesday during this spring’s Twenty Weeks of Buzz, I’ll be posting about a different one of my twenty books, exploring how each book took shape. This week, Justice Hall, published in 2002.

During the Great War, British men and boys as young as 17 arrived in France and were faced by this:

Some of them ended up like this (this is not a video for the faint of heart.)

Others broke down, dropped their rifles, did not acknowledge orders, or fled. 306 of those British men were convicted of desertion and cowardice, and shot at dawn.

Not until 2006 were the men pardoned.

This is the background of Justice Hall.


  1. Chris on March 16, 2010 at 2:07 am

    I have just finished re-reading Justice Hall, having promised myself that when I had time to savour it once more, I would take my time and have a second read. What a wonderful, satisfying, rounded story. Characters to empathise with, Russell on top form (and some beautiful tongue-in-cheek dialogue!) One of my favourites.


  2. Heather J. on March 16, 2010 at 7:14 am

    This is one of my very favorite Russell book. And by the way, I am REALLY enjoying this series of posts; I’ve already put two of your non-Russell books on my TBR list because of them.

  3. Merrily Taylor on March 16, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I think “Justice Hall” is one of the most powerful books from Laurie’s pen. Not only does it convey the horror of the Great War to those of us who are far removed from it, but it portrays the injustice of the executions for “cowardice” in a very personal and heartbreaking way. I often listen to the audio versions of the books and I can never get through Gabriel’s diary without tears!

  4. Sarah on March 16, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Justice Hall was one of the best in the series. My dad took off the shelf he never looks at and started reading it. I spent, like, two days looking for it; eventually I asked him and he looked up from a book whose title I could not see. “Uhhh… it’s right here.”he said. I let him finish, then I gave him The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. He is totally hooked, just like me, and we can’t wait for God Of The Hive.

  5. Pat Floyd on March 16, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    My first reaction on watching the video: “What a damn-fool way to conduct a war.” It was even worse than I had imagined, not that any war has anything to commend it. Viet Nam falls into the same category on a smaller scale.

    In my opinion Justice Hall is a great novel, not only portraying in a stunningly vivid way the injustice of executions for so-called cowardice, but holding up a mirror to its time in history. It makes a strong statement about the consequences of injustice.

    Parts that we love, the delightful surprises and the humor, however, will probably keep it from ever being viewed in the same category as War and Peace.

  6. La Donna on March 17, 2010 at 6:10 am

    My first introduction to WWI other than brief mentions in elementary school textbooks was during my freshman year in high school. We did a literature unit on war and we read Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. (This was during Vietnam and I had a reservist father.) Heavens above … let us just say that it left a lasting impression and helped form one or two opinions.

    The first third of the last century is the time period I have studied most and I really like reading novels that flesh out the period — Touchstone and, of course, the Russell books plus Charles Todd’s Ian Rutledge (and now Bess Crawford) series and Anne Perry’s WWI series (No grave as yet … etc.)

  7. Ann on March 8, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    I loved the book but felt that the ending was too abrupt and left many unanswered questions. Did Gabriel, Helen and Ben stay at Justice Hall? What happened to the fake Gabriel? He seemed so smart despite his upbringing. What was the Darlings’ reaction? I cared so much about the characters that I wanted closure for all of them.

    The nightmares of trench warfare were vividly described. I’ll never forget ‘cream of man’ soup.

Leave a Comment