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Rumpole Rests His Case Hardcover – November 11, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

How much longer will readers be treated to new stories featuring irreverent and irascible London barrister Horace Rumpole? The character was created for British television in the 1970s by John Mortimer, who once said that he'd continue writing Rumpole tales only so long as actor Leo Kern could portray him on the tube. If Kern's death in July 2002 means that Rumpole Rests His Case is the beginning of the end, then at least this series concludes on a high and humorous note.

The seven yarns collected here find the rumpled Rumpole defending his usual assortment of eccentric clients, while also fending off antismoking zealots, interior designers with a taste for lava lamps, and his domineering wife, Hilda ("known to me only as She Who Must Be Obeyed"). One story teams the elderly advocate with an elusive Afghan doctor who was smuggled into the U.K. in a crate of mango chutney, and now seeks to become a legal resident. In another, Rumpole investigates an assault, apparently committed by an unmanageable teenager with a poetic streak, while a third case has the barrister working for a hypocritical right-wing politician who, after first seducing away the wife of one of Rumpole's colleagues, is accused of a drug offense. Cleverest of all, though, is the title tale, in which a hospital-confined Rumpole builds the defense for one of his roommates, a "reformed" thief with an unlikely connection to the aged major who shot him during a residential break-in. With his own unreformed taste for claret and cheroots, Rumpole persists in being an entertaining, old-fashioned thorn in the silk-covered side of Britain's judicial system. Could somebody please tell Mortimer that it's too soon for this character to hang up his wig? --J. Kingston Pierce

From Publishers Weekly

Mortimer's many fans on both sides of the Atlantic will delight in Horace Rumpole's return after a six-year hiatus in this amusing collection of the gruff but lovable barrister's latest exploits. The familiar cheroot-puffing, claret-quaffing denizen of Old Bailey now faces the challenges of a new millennium-including illegal aliens, drug-dealing and fraudulent e-mails-as he defends a series of peculiar clients. In "Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces," Horace laments his reunion with a former blackmailer, now turned lord of the manor, whom Horace persuades to donate ill-gotten gains for the restoration of a church steeple. "Rumpole and the Asylum Seekers" has the barrister teamed up with an Afghan doctor who smuggled himself to England in a crate of chutney and now faces prison and torture if he is sent home. In the case of "Rumpole and the Camberwell Carrot," he rescues the career of a controversial politician branded with drug-use allegations by a seductive tabloid reporter. Next, in "Rumpole and the Teenage Werewolf," he comes to the aid of an alleged stalker whose e-mail address has somehow been usurped to harass a young coed. A courtroom collapse almost finishes his career in the title story, when wife Hilda ("She Who Must Be Obeyed") tries to keep him around their Froxbury Mansion flat ("decidedly not a mansion," regrets Horace) to help with the shopping. Using fade-ins for quick scene changes reminiscent of the popular PBS series Rumpole of the Bailey, Mortimer proves his wit is as sharp as ever; he and his hero deserve a hearty welcome back.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (November 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670031399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670031399
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,314,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tom Munro on December 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It seems strange that Rumpole of the Bailey has now been going for some 30 years and the actor who played him so perfectly has passed away just recently. John Mortimer the author is apparently now 80.
The early books were tinged with a certain sadness, placing Rumpole as a man past his time, a disappointment to his wife and someone who others were trying to ease into retirement. Yet Rumpole survived as an old Bailey hack, resiting all attempts to move him out of chambers.
As time has gone by these side plots, although existing have receded into the background and Rumpole has over time become the master of the court room and the one ethical figure in a modern world.
Mortimers strengths are that he has spent a lifetime in the courts and writes about it with a certain realism and eye for its absurdities. He is also a skilled story teller and even the shortest of the stories in any of his books with have multiple themes, plot twists and characters who spring from life.
This latest lot of stories does not show the slightest diminution of Mortimers power as a story teller despite the fact that he must have written them as a 78 year old. Each story is not only complete in itself as a little drama but it is also a picture of England under new labour. Stories feature the problems faced by asylum seekers, harassment by email and the struggle of the conservative party to retain some relevance by launching into a bit of populism.
It is a book that once you open, you will not put down and you will finish it in a couple of hours. What a shame that Leo McKern is no longer able to bring to the screen such gems.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By George R Dekle on December 5, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
Horace Rumpole, a somewhat paunchy, somewhat seedy junior barrister, made his American debut ("Rumpole of the Bailey") in the 1970's when I was a relatively inexperienced prosecutor. What was thought to be his last appearance in print ("Rumpole and the Angel of Death") came in the 1990's when I was a relatively battle-scarred prosecutor. Although Rumpole prosecuted only once during his long career, I always felt a kinship to this cigar smoking, poetry spouting barrister who loved his profession so passionately. Through ten individual volumes (nine of which were collected into "Rumpole Omnibuses") and almost sixty stories, Rumpole strove mightily on behalf of the poor and oppressed, made pungent observations on the human condition and the trial of criminal cases, and drank gallons of cheap wine at Pomeroy's Wine Bar.
Rumpole's greatest charm came from his on-the-money observations about life of a journeyman trial lawyer. Not as successful as he could have been, not as ambitious as he should have been, Rumpole proved an enigma to his fellow barristers and his wife, Hilda ("She Who Must Be Obeyed").
You can imagine my pleasure to discover that Mortimer had resurrected Rumpole for one more round of trials down at the Old Bailey. All previous Rumpole opuses have been televised by the BBC (and later on PBS) with Leo McKern starring as Rumpole. The shows have been every bit as good as the stories. There will be no televising of these stories, however, as McKern passed away recently. Mortimer wrote the Rumpole character for McKern, and no one else could ever portray Rumpole half as well.
Rumpole, however, is beginning to show his age. Mortimer's stories are just as well written as in the previous stories, but it is apparent that Rumpole's abilities are beginning to wane.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By F. Behrens HALL OF FAME on October 25, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
I never thought to see any new Rumpole of the Bailey stories, but it seems that the fecund John Mortimer has come up with yet another seven put out by Viking Press. At the same time, Audio Partners has released a complete reading on 6 audio-tapes. "Rumpole Rests His Case" (61280) features actor Tony Britton and the six stories are as follows.
"Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces" (a fitting title for a "return" tale) concerns another inept robbery by a young member of the Timson clan, a Christmas pantomime, and an ex-con living it up as a gentleman.
"Rumple and the Remembrance of Things Past" somehow and neatly manages to put a framing device of a non-smoking rule in "chambers" around a gruesome major plot of a wife's skeleton found buried in a floor.
"Rumpole and the Asylum Seekers" is a timely tale of refugees escaping an oppressive government and those who make money by betraying them.
"Rumpole and the Camberwell Carrot" is about a flaming affair between the lovely "Portia of the Chambers" and a noted pillar of morality who has more than just clay feet.
"Rumpole and the Actor Laddie" is the shortest Rumpole story ever and the most unsatisfactory, revolving around a ring that might or not be stolen.
"Rumple and the Teenage Werewolf" is another very timely tale about sexual stalking by e-mail. (Here I was sure I knew who the culprit was--it HAD to be!--and was wrong.)
The final tale, "Rumpole Rests His Case" is the most unusual Rumpole story ever. After collapsing at the end of a particularly trying trial, Rumpole spends the story in a hospital bed in which he solves a crime and presents his case--to the other patients! A very touching finale.
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