From Publishers Weekly
Mortimer's curmudgeonly barrister, Horace Rumpole, defends a Pakistani doctor accused of aiding al-Qaeda in an up-to-date tale that pits Rumpole against those who use the terrorist threat as an excuse to subvert the British legal system. When Mahmood Khan, who loves the queen, roast beef and cricket as much as any respectable Englishman, is imprisoned on vague charges, Rumpole must use all his wiles—including blackmailing the odious home secretary—to ensure a fair trial. Meanwhile, wife Hilda (aka "She Who Must Be Obeyed"), as revealed in extracts from the memoirs she's secretly writing, has been flirting with Judge Leonard "Mad Bull" Bullingham, her husband's courtroom nemesis, who winds up presiding in the case against Dr. Khan. If luck as much as clever sleuthing figures into Rumpole's ultimate triumph, this daringly topical entry in Mortimer's cherished series shows that the 83-year-old author remains as skilled as ever at delivering an entertaining mystery. (Nov.)
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*Starred Review* Mortimer expanded his Rumpole range from short story to novel form with Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders in 2004. In this, the second full-scale Rumpole novel, Mortimer launches an all-out attack on Britain's Anti-Terror Act, which he characterizes as aiding and abetting terrorists by doing away with the hard-won rule of law. Rumpole's disturbing encounters with the devastations of the Anti-Terror Act come through his bread-and-butter connection with the Timsons, the criminal family who, through the years, has sought Rumpole for their defense. A distant Timson relative now comes to Rumpole. This woman is married to a Pakistani doctor who has been imprisoned on suspicion of terrorism. Rumpole's attempts to free this man are met with horror from Rumpole's wife ("She Who Must Be Obeyed"), disapproval from his colleagues at 4 Equity Court, and disavowal from the Timsons, who drop him as their QC of choice. Rumpole, reduced to offering advice at the Free Legal Clinic, pursues his client's right to a fair trial even as he battles his own doubts about the accused. All the usual Rumpolean marvels of language and characterization are here, with the addition of searing social commentary on racial prejudice and Britain's current government. A bracing, upsetting, inspiring David-and-Goliath Rumpole. Connie Fletcher
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