Mystery and Heartbreak During WW1

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Source: Kiplin Hall, kiplinhall.co.uk

 

“But it was certainly a library, rather than a room with decorative books and well-used sofas. Shelves lined the walls, unbroken but for five windows, two doors, and a fireplace with a portrait above it. Free standing bookshelves of a subtly newer appearance extended into one end of the room, creating three bays that filled a third of the library’s floor space. On the other end, under the windows, were two long mahogany work tables and a trio of leather armchairs, all of which were equipped with reading lamps.”

– Justice Hall, Laurie R. King

 

While this description of the library in Justice Hall, found in the novel of the same name by Laurie R. King, sounds like a book lover’s delight, all is not well in the manor. Married sleuths Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes must fallow a dangerous trail of ominous clues that leads from a post-WW1 English village to the city of Paris and on to a bleak Canadian wilderness. The heir to Justice Hall died in France during the Great War amid scandalous rumors, leaving a title in question.

There is a meme going around about books that made you cry, and this heartbreaking story caused me to tear up on several occasions. With WW1 Centennial remembrance ceremonies going on around the western world, it is hard not to reflect on the tragedy of millions of boys dying horrible deaths in mud filled trenches.

Dawn2

Source: Atlas Obscura

What I found even more tragic, however, were the boys and young men condemned to death for desertion or cowardice, often without representation.  The Shot at Dawn memorial in the Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, England depicts a seventeen-year-old private, who was condemned without representation in the summer of 1915. Behind the blindfolded figure are 306 wooden stakes, each representing an executed Commonwealth soldier.

My heart weeps.

Private_Herbert_Burden

Source: Atlas Obscura

 

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Justice Hall  by Laurie R. King

 

 

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