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Rumpole and the Reign of Terror (Rumpole Novels) Hardcover – November 16, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
Book 19 of 22 in the Horace Rumpole Series

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Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Rumpole Novels
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1 edition (November 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670038040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670038046
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,535,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
John Mortimer's "Rumpole and the Reign of Terror" brings back the champion of the underdog, Horace Rumpole, who is the oldest inhabitant of the chambers at 4 Equity Court. With his trademark frayed gown and yellowing wig, Rumpole appears innocuous enough. However, when he stands up in court, he has an arsenal of formidable weapons at his disposal: a stentorian voice, biting wit laced with sarcasm, and devastatingly effective powers of cross-examination. He frequently angers intrusive and overbearing judges, and he specializes in persuading lying witnesses to blurt out the truth.

Refusing to retire from his beloved profession, Rumpole makes most of his living these days defending the Timson clan, whom he considers decent, non-violent criminals. They engage in breaking and entering, burglary, and receipt of stolen property. Unfortunately, Rumpole's relationship with the Timson clan quickly sours when he takes the case of a man accused of consorting with terrorists, Dr. Mahmood Khan. Khan left Pakistan when his anti-government protests made him unwelcome in his native land. He settled in England and married Tiffany Timson, whose family is none too happy with the match. The Timsons reluctantly withdraw their business from Rumpole when he agrees to represent Tiffany's husband.

Khan's case makes Rumpole's blood boil. The new terrorism laws allow the doctor to be imprisoned without knowing the specific charges against him. In addition, Dr. Khan is presumed guilty until proven innocent, which leaves him with little legal recourse. Rumpole defies his long-suffering wife, Hilda (She Who Must Be Obeyed), as well as his obnoxious and condescending Head of Chambers, Soapy Sam Ballard, both of whom urge him to drop the case. On the contrary, Rumpole is determined to fight Dr.
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Format: Hardcover
Horace Rumpole is mad as heck and he's not going to take it anymore!

John Mortimer's latest offering in his Rumpole of the Bailey series, "Rumpole and the Reign of Terror", finds Rumpole at his grouchy best. His grouchiness is not directed at his usual targets: Hilda (She Who Must be Obeyed) Rumpole or his colleagues at his law chambers. Instead, Rumpole has targeted his verbal slings and arrows at anti-terror legislation passed by Parliament in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks and the terror bombings in London of 7 July, 2005. Rumpole (and presumably Mortimer) believes that elements of these Acts threaten to destroy some of the civil liberties Britons have fought for since Magna Carta. Specifically, and despite his loathing for the bus-bombing terrorists, Rumpole is apoplectic at elements of the legislation that allows Britain's police and security forces to detain suspected (non-citizen) terrorists for an indefinite period without benefit of counsel or a formal presentation of charges. In other words Rumpole see a threat to two legal precepts he holds dearest: the right of any suspect to seek relief from possibly unlawful detention via the use of the "great writ of habeas corpus"; and the presumption that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

Rumpole falls into his latest case, in this case something akin to a legal crusade, by accident. He is defending one of the Timson clan (the crime family that has provided Rumpole with a reasonable income (a claim disputed by Hilda no doubt) for his entire career on a run of the mill breaking and entering charge. One of the Timson `girls' seeks Rumpole's assistance. Her husband, a Pakistani-born doctor, has been arrested and detained on unspecified terrorism charges.
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Format: Hardcover
Since his inaugural case in the 1970's Rumpole has busily defended one or another of the Timson clan (a large and industrious family of South London thieves) on various charges. More than one of the cases Rumpole has previously chronicled involves a Timson unwisely befriending, trusting, and being betrayed by a Molloy (another large and industrious family of South London thieves). Rumpole brilliantly wins each case by convincing the jury that the Timsons and Molloys are like the Hatfields and McCoys, and that the conniving Molloy has framed the hapless Timson.

This case serves up a slight twist on that old plot, with Rumpole defending a Timson who unwisely befriended another Molloy, and at the same time defending a Pakistani doctor who married a Timson and whose affairs also cross paths with the Molloys. Besides bringing Rumpole, the Timsons, and the Molloys into the 21st Century, Mortimer also manages to mix in huge doses of critique of anti-terrorism laws. He's not too heavy-handed with his criticism, and the political commentary does not detract from the story.

The first Rumpole stories were complex pieces of work, with numerous subplots involving Rumpole's colleagues swirling around the main mystery. Mortimer's later efforts have been less complex, with Rumpole's chamber-mates at Number 4 Equity Court receding to the background as Rumpole's relationship with his wife Hilda (She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed) receives more attention. The trend continues in this latest effort, with Soapy Sam Ballard, Phillida Erskine-Brown, Claude Erskine-Brown, Hoskins, and Henry the clerk receding into cardboard figures with little depth. Still, "The Reign of Terror" was so engaging that I read it in one sitting.
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