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Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders Hardcover – November 18, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (November 18, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670033561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670033560
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,009,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mortimer's beloved barrister, Horace Rumpole, at last tells the tale, hitherto mentioned only in passing, of the Penge Bungalow murders, the case that made his reputation as a defense lawyer decades ago. Simon Jerold stands accused of shooting his father, a bomber pilot during WWII, and an RAF buddy of his father's some hours after a quarrel in which Simon threatened his father with a German Luger. Simon appears headed for the gallows with perfunctory defense from C.H. Wystan, Rumpole's by-the-book head of chambers. Leave it to young Rumpole, an inexperienced "white wig," to see a chink or two in the prosecution's case and step up to Simon's defense, even at the risk of ruffling his supercilious superior's feathers. Subplots include the farcical circumstances that lead the romantically challenged Rumpole to become engaged to Wystan's daughter, Hilda (aka "She Who Must Be Obeyed"), and his introduction to the felonious Timson family, one of whose hapless members he defends in an unrelated burglary trial—which incidentally provides a clue to a key motive of one of the principals in the murder case. If a British airman circa 1942 committing treason in the belief that Hitler was going to win the war isn't entirely convincing, Mortimer (Rumpole and the Primrose Path) never fails to delight.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

For fans of this British crime fiction series, Rumpole is a must read. First introduced in a radio play 30 years ago, Rumpole has since populated 12 collections of Mortimer’s short stories as well as a television series. This novel-memoir (the first long piece of fiction starring Rumpole) relates the backstory of the ornery trial lawyer’s success, introduces readers to beloved characters, and answers questions about everything you ever wanted to know about Rumpole, including his predilections for wine, love, and criminal defense. "For anyone unfamiliar with this series," notes The New York Times Book Review, "here’s a charming way to begin."

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Hope to continue reading Rumpole books!!
Sassy girl
John Mortimer's latest Rumpole story, Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders takes us back to the great barrister's first big case.
Leonard Fleisig
Though the story is well executed and great fun to read for its plot, the satire and wry humor are what make the novel come alive.
Mary Whipple

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on January 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Horace Rumpole!!!! And it is a darn good thing for any defendant facing a criminal charge in London to have the rumpled, oft-scorned, and much condescended to Horace Rumpole take up your defense against all comers.

John Mortimer's latest Rumpole story, Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders takes us back to the great barrister's first big case. The story is told looking back after a conversation in chambers convinces Rumpole to write his memoirs. The story jumps back and forth between Rumpole's recollections of events interrupted only by the occasional (but highly amusing) bit of conversation with Hilda, she who must be obeyed, and his colleague in chambers.

It is the early 1950s and Rumpole is young, eager, and ready to begin his career as a trial lawyer (barrister). He has found himself working for C.J. Wystan, the head of his chambers (firm) and the father of an assertive young daughter named Hilda. Simon Jerrold has been arrested and accused of the murder of his father and one of his father's friends. Each of the deceased flew for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and this was of no small consequence for the national press. All the evidence available points to Simon as the murderer. A conviction seems a certainty to all, including Simon's lead defense attorney, Wystan. Wystan has selected Rumpole to act as a silent assistant after Hilda suggests for some unknown reason that Rumpole is a man with a future in the law. It should surprise no one that Rumpole does not bow down to the conventional wisdom concerning his client's guilt. The story takes us through the remarkable series of events through which Rumpole assumes control of the defense and takes the case through trial.

As always, Mortimer writes with wit and verve.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Horace Rumpole looks back to just after graduating from Oxford to work his first legal case. Five decades ago Rumpole bit his acerbic tongue to defend a client Simon Jerold accused of a double murder, that of his father and a friend using a pistol taken from a deceased World War II German aviator. The evidence seems overwhelming and the legal fraternity shies away from defending the accused as no money can be made. Stunned by the reaction of his peers Rumpole dives into the defense with idealistic zeal.

Rumpole quickly learns that the jurisprudence system is a haven for corrupt barristers trying to squeeze pounds out of helpless and at times innocent criminals. He drops the gloves applying his saber wit on opponents as he defends his client with his belligerent in your face manner. He will use that technique for the next five decades defending the downtrodden against powerful opponents except Hilda Wyston who he has just met through her father and quickly becomes known as "She Who Must Be Obeyed".

This is a terrific Rumpole legal thriller that fans of the series will fully treasure due to the documenting of his first case referenced in many of the short stories. The deep support cast consists of "felons" from all sides of the legal systems, family members, and lest we forget the client. Though newcomers will feel aspects of the case and the protagonist's background seem missing (a tendency to rely on references in other books), readers will find pleasure with the character driven case that fans have wanted for seemingly almost as long a time as the hero looks back.

Harriet Klausner
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By W. Phinizy on April 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
July 2002 was the saddest month of all. Leo McKern -- the quintessential Rumpole -- had died after a long illness and was survived one day by Maurice Denham who played Rumpole on BBC radio. So it seems that the possibility of a revival of visual episodes of has declined to almost zero. Nonetheless, there was always the hope that Sir John Mortimer would pen the story that launched the whole series..

..and, after two collections of stories, it finally appeared.

So it was with some sadness that I took to Reading "The Penge Bungalow Murders" realizing it would probably be the last Mortimer would do for old Rumpole. My sorrow was compounded only slightly because it appears to me that Sir John phoned this one in. As others have pointed out, this episode seemed a somewhat flat and rather perfunctory effort; seemingly a work where all of the questions were being answered and the loose ends were being tied up.

We see how Rumpole became involved with the Timpsons. How he and Hilda became entwined (she played a far more important role in Rumpole's success and chambers' affairs than we could ever imagine), what an insufferable, doddering dolt her father and head of chambers, C. H. Wystan, was and how Horace developed his acerbic wit and contempt for the mediocrity passed off as "the finest traditions of the bar".

Why the five stars?

Because I cannot bear to rate it less. A Rumpole yarn, whether on or off, is a damned good read.

Like they say, the worst day fishing is better than the best day at work.

It was a marvelous run and sad that it probably has come to an end.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bluestocking on November 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book. I think it's the best in the Rumpole series. John Mortimer is the Shakespeare of courtroom dramas - head and shoulders above anyone else in the field. This particular installment not only contains drama, suspense and comedy, it's also a love story. Here we discover how Rumpole and She Who Must Be Obeyed `'fell in love'` so to speak and got married. In the face of overwhelming obstructionism, pettiness, and arrogance from the powers-that-were in Britain's legal world in the 1950s, Rumpole found himself tasked with the problem of keeping an innocent young man from the gallows, and She alone supported him.

Reading news reports from Europe lately, it's possible to wonder whether there will always be an England. However, reading this book makes me certain there will always be a Rumpole.
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