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Rumpole Rests His Case by John Mortimer

Rumpole Rests His Case (2001)

by John Mortimer

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Although not all the mysteries are completely up to the usual standard, the wit and humour are as enjoyable as ever. I also very much enjoyed the final summing up of Rumpole in his hospital bed. It seems like Mortimer wanted to end here but didn't, as I have a nice another Rumpole to enjoy.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
  Bruno_Estigarribia | Mar 31, 2014 |
I had a sneaking feeling the whole time that I had read these stories before. It is both the blessing and curse of Mortimer's writing. It is well written, enjoyable to read, memorable characters, but not really memorable plots. They are so easy to read that they don't stick too well. The one thing I got from this reading was that Mortimer lived very near where I live now and named a lot of the minor characters and places around places that are nearbly. There was a Lady Shiplake and a Lady Binfield (both places near Henley-on-Thames or Turville, where he lived). I loved the reference to the Parallelogram Centre (instead of Reading's Hexagon Centre). That one made me chuckle. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
It was OK, Rumpole shows through, it was a quick read but not one I couldn't set down.

( )
  Cubbyfan99 | Apr 3, 2013 |
Rumpole is a figure perfectly suited to his environment, the four corners of which are the inside of a courtroom, the inside of a hospitable hostelry (preferably Pommeroy's wine bar, where he spends his time getting outside many an agreeable glass of claret of disagreeable vintage), his home (a mansion flat that he shares with his wife; 'She Who Must Be Obeyed') and his office.

Rumpole does not rattle round inside this environment, rather, this small world and the larger universe that surrounds it revolves around his stately figure, for Rumpole is eternal, permanent and timeless, portrayed as as much a feature of the legal system as Magna Carta, imposing courtrooms constructed from dark wood, and old men in robes and wigs who spent far too much time at public school having odd things, and other pupils and the occasional housemaster, shoved up their bottoms and are now taking the opportunity to get even with society by sentencing the working classes to varying periods of shared accommodation with somebody called 'The Walthamstow Strangler', limited travel opportunities, and slopping out while making sure that other Freemasons don't get sent down for fraud or thrashing the hell out of their caddie.

Rumpole is a fixed point, and no doubt his being overweight helps this. It also ensures that his profile is perfect for catching the ash that falls from the succession of small cigars that, along with Pommeroy's plonk, hearty fried breakfasts that She Who Must Be Obeyed lovingly prepares for him and the pub lunches, sustain the finest literary legal mind of his generation.

Rumpole, one feels, would be quite at home in the Victorian age. Indeed to an extent he is. The law courts house antique furniture, attitudes and characters. The pubs he inhabits are etched glass and tiled affairs rather than themed or gastro and the Inns of Court would be recognisable to any Victorian type who had business there retaining a barrister to defend them on a charge of having rickets without due care and attention, leading the sing-along in the workhouse, sporting a top hat of a size that might cause ladies or horses distress or the many other crimes that, in the Victorian era could result in prison, transportation or the gallows.

In this collection of stories the modern world intrudes upon Rumpole and his environment. Rumpole's reaction to the modern world is to ignore it as much as possible, for it is not the benefit of modernity that intrudes here, like really good coffee available in local shops, Test Match Special or the portable gas barbecue, but the conventions or contraptions that are either inconveniences or tools for malice.

Take, for instance, the smoking ban in Chambers that sees Rumpole forced to enjoy his small cigars al fresco, gaining him a reputation as a fellow who has engineered a situation where he is in regular close proximity to the pretty young secretaries with whom he shares both an alcove that protects them from inclement weather, and filthy nicotine habit.

Rumpole resists and rails against the smoking ban throughout this collection of short stories, losing many battles in his campaign to be allowed to smoke in the privacy of his own office but always ready to enter back into the fray.

The collection follows a typical formula; a tale about a case that Rumpole is working on forms the majority of the short story, usually with a twist ending while in the background a sub-plot, usually involving a misunderstanding between the various other figures that populate Rumpole's practice is brought to light and then resolved by our hero. Often there is a connection, direct or merely thematic, between plot and sub-plot.

The modern world is tricky and not to be trusted. Certainly after reading the story containing the computer one gets the impression that the manuscript for these short stories was written on a manual typewriter, about the same size and weight as an anvil, and possibly with a sticky 'K' key where a lunchtime claret splashed, and all the better for it.

An enjoyable collection of short stories about a character who, whatever age he inhabits, appears ageless, who is simply...Rumpole. ( )
  macnabbs | Oct 22, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142003476, Paperback)

The comic, courageous, and corpulent Horace Rumpole reenters the fray in these seven fresh and funny stories in which the "great defender of muddled and sinful humanity" triumphs over the forces of prejudice and mean-mindedness while he tiptoes precariously through the domestic territory of his wife, Hilda-She Who Must Be Obeyed! With his passion for poetry, and a nose equally sensitive to the whiff of wrongdoing and the bouquet of a Château Thames Embankment, the lovable and disheveled Rumpole "is at his rumpled best" (The New York Times).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:33 -0400)

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"When your life at the Bar has been as rich as Rumpole's, the past is best avoided. Who knows what might have happened to that dubious boy you got off a motoring charge at Swansea in the early eighties? Or that young man who went down for a minor case of safe-breaking, despite your best endeavours?" "But the past has a funny habit of intruding nevertheless. When Rumpole takes an unwanted Christmas break in the country, he feels sure that he's met the local squire before. And that pantomime dame treading the boards at the Tufnell Park Empire seems oddly familiar ... Strangest of all, Rumpole is forced to delve back into the hippy-dippy sixties when the skeleton of a young woman is found under the floorboards of a derelict house." "Some things never go away, of course: Pommeroy's Wine Bar continues to serve up its best Chateau Thames Embankment, Claude Erskine-Brown - suffering the pain of a trial separation from the delectable Portia - remains as inadequate an advocate as ever, and She Who Must Be Obeyed still insists that Rumpole socialize with her old schoolfriends. But there's new wind blowing too in this dazzling collection of new Rumpole stories: for the first time Rumpole finds himself appearing for an asylum-seeker at the Appeals Tribunal, and - worst of all - his chambers have become a smoke-free zone." "Perhaps it's all too much for Rumpole? Is the day coming when the lights will go out even on one of the greatest advocates to grace the Old Bailey?"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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