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Rumpole of the Bailey #11

Rumpole Rests His Case

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Rumpole and the old familiar faces
Rumpole and the remembrance of things past
Rumpole and the asylum seekers
Rumpole and the Camberwell Carrot
Rumpole and the actor laddie
Rumpole and the teenage werewolf
Rumpole rests his case

210 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2002

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About the author

John Mortimer

268 books204 followers
John Clifford Mortimer was a novelist, playwright and former practising barrister. Among his many publications are several volumes of Rumpole stories and a trilogy of political novels, Paradise Postponed, Titmuss Regained and The Sound of Trumpets, featuring Leslie Titmuss - a character as brilliant as Rumpole. John Mortimer received a knighthood for his services to the arts in 1998.

Rumpole of the Bailey
Rapstone Chronicles

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5 stars
473 (41%)
4 stars
439 (38%)
3 stars
211 (18%)
2 stars
19 (1%)
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6 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 75 reviews
Profile Image for Martin.
327 reviews143 followers
May 9, 2020
Horace Rumpole - a defending lawyer never claimed he knew all the law, but he did know how to keep his clients out of prison. Here are seven fresh and funny stories in which he 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.


The stories are;
Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces
Rumpole and the Remembrance of Things Past
Rumpole and the Asylum Seekers
Rumpole and the Camberwell Carrot
Rumpole and the Actor Laddie
Rumpole and the Teenage Werewolf
Rumpole Rests His Case


Here are three samples of these entertaining stories . . .

Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces

In the varied ups and downs, the thrills and spills in the life of an Old Bailey hack, one thing stands as stone. Your ex-customers will never want to see you again. Even if you’ve steered them through the rocks of the prosecution case and brought them out to the calm waters of a not-guilty verdict, they won’t plan further meetings, host reunion dinners or even send you a card on your birthday. If they catch a glimpse of you on the Underground, or across a crowded wine bar, they will bury their faces in their newspapers or look studiously in the opposite direction.

This is understandable. Days in Court probably represent a period of time they’d rather forget and, as a rule, I’m not especially keen to renew an old acquaintance when a face I once saw in the Old Bailey Dock reappears at a ‘Scales of Justice’ dinner or the Inns of Court garden party. Reminiscences of the past are best avoided and what is required is a quick look and a quiet turn away. There have been times, however, when recognizing a face seen in trouble has greatly assisted me in the solution of some legal problem, and carried me to triumph in a difficult case. Such occasions have been rare, but like number thirteen buses, two of them turned up in short order round a Christmas which I remember as being one of the oddest, but certainly the most rewarding, I ever spent.

Rumpole and the Remembrance of Things Past

There are no sadder relics of the past than the rows of small, semi-detached houses that line one of the western approaches to London. Once they were lived in and alive. Minis were washed on Sunday mornings inside their lean-to garages, bright dahlias and tea roses grew in their front gardens, their doorbells chimed and, on winter evenings, lights glowed from the stained-glass portholes in their front doors.

Now their blind windows are stuffed with hardboard, their front doors nailed up, their gardens piled with rubble and their garages collapsed. They are derelict victims of a long-delayed scheme to widen the main road, and some of these houses have already been pulled out like rotten teeth. When it came to be the turn of 35 Primrose Drive, a digger, prising up the sitting-room floor, lifted, with apparent tenderness, the well-preserved and complete skeleton of a young woman. Reports were made to the police and the coroner’s office. D. I. Winthrop, an enthusiastic young officer, started an inquiry which led, to his great satisfaction, to the arrest of William Twineham, the sole owner of the house since its birth in the sixties. Twineham’s wife Josephine had, the D. I. discovered, vanished unaccountably some thirty-three years previously.

Rumpole and the Asylum Seekers

It was about dawn on a bitterly cold April morning, with snow flurries and freezing fog, when a lorry, loaded with crates of imported mango chutney, was stopped in Dover Harbour. Men in bright-yellow jackets, inspecting the cargo, became suspicious at what appeared to be breathing holes in one of the crates. There was also a curious knocking as though some of the chutney was anxious to escape. Further investigation revealed the true nature of the cargo: not pickle but ten refugees from Afghanistan, men, women and three children. As they were liberated and lined up beside the lorry, an enterprising newsman got a picture of them which appeared, in blurred colour, on the front page of Hilda’s tabloid under the headline ‘BRITAIN REPELS MANGO CHUTNEY INVADERS’.


With his passion for Wordsworth, his kindly disposition toward the defendant, and a nose equally sensitive to the whiff of wrongdoing and the bouquet of a Chateau Thames Embankment, the disheveled Rumpole is back and in impeccable form.


Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,257 followers
January 29, 2018
Rumpole is getting up there in years (it's seems like in every Rumpole book the poor old blighter is "getting up there in years") and the overall tone of this book makes you think perhaps it's time for him to hang up his wig. But what the hey, how about a few more cases?!

Rumpole Rests His Case treads upon familiar plots and characters, so much so that I was half way through and sure I'd read this one before I realized it was just that I recognized the stories from the tv version, and yes, most of the storylines play out like most all of John Mortimer's enjoyable books about the ethical humanitarian lawyer Horace Rumpole.

The short stories that make up this volume -at least the first half of them- do not seem as cohesive as other Rumpoles I've read. The theme thread does surface by the end though.

What's most interesting about this one, to me at any rate, is that it was written later in Mortimer's writing career, so Rumpole is faced with some new technology, such as "The Internet". It's interesting, because Rumpole is an old dude -an old lovable dude- but old one nonetheless and set in his ways. I find charm in his cantankerous ways, especially his repulsion to most new things. He's a great chap who will go to the wall for a defendant wrongly accused, but he is a grump. I probably like it because it makes me feel a little less curmudgeonly than I am.

Rumpole Rests His Case does not gather together the best of Mortimer's work, imo, but it is a serviceably good read that should bring a bit of joy to fans.
Profile Image for JZ.
708 reviews89 followers
April 8, 2019
One of the best collections of stories. Later in life, John Mortimer commented on points of social problems in a way that no one else does. Humor and heart. Seeing things from the other side of the law.
Profile Image for Maureen Lo.
115 reviews34 followers
July 10, 2017
Back in the 80s, I was a fanatic of all things British. Music, dramas, The BBC and Rumpole. I can't get enough of their dry wit. Ironic, sarcastic and self-deprecating. A thoroughly enjoyable read then and still is now. ;)
Profile Image for Damaskcat.
1,782 reviews4 followers
February 26, 2015
Horace Rumpole has an encyclopaedic memory of his old cases and inevitably he comes across people he has defended from time to time. In the first story - Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces - two people he has come across in the past have cause to regret meeting his again. I particularly enjoyed Rumpole and the Camberwell Carrot in which Phillida Erskine-Brown finds an idol has feet of clay.

I recall reading the last story in this book when it was first published and wondering whether the last story - Rumpole Rests His Case was actually going to be his last ever appearance. I thought his final speech to the 'jury' in that story was brilliant considering he had so little hard evidence to go on.

Once again Rumpole displays his knowledge of human nature, his thirst for justice and his disinclination ever to plead guilty whatever the circumstances and never ever to prosecute. This is an entertaining collection of stories exposing the follies and foible of the great and the good and yet still making some serious points about the stupidity of the law at times. I have re-read the book many times and it loses none of its appeal.
Profile Image for John Carter.
349 reviews25 followers
October 21, 2012
It’s impossible not to like a Rumpole story. I got a bit of a surprise out of this collection though, because I’d just finished Rumpole and the Primrose Path and I found that the first story in that (for which the book is named) follows immediately after the last story here—again the title story. References to earlier cases are common in the Rumpole œuvre, but this is the only case I can think of offhand where the timeline of two tales is so clear and tight. I bought several Rumpoles at the same time (collections I’d never seen before); perhaps I’d better check the GoodReads series ordering before I read any more of them!
Profile Image for Peter Allum.
444 reviews7 followers
January 18, 2023
Unambitious courtroom drama.

John Mortimer published his first book starring Rumpole, the London defense lawyer, at age 55, drawing on his own legal career as well as that of his father. This launched the popular Rumpole franchise which ran to nearly two dozen books, with Mortimer writing the last shortly before his death at age 85.

Rumpole has iconic status in Britain, including as adapted for TV in the 1970s and 80s. The dustjacket compares Mortimer to P. G. Wodehouse, describing his writing as “witty” and of “high intelligence” (New York Times Book Review and Wall Street Journal).

This is my first venture into the Rumpole series, and it proved sadly disappointing. The stories are populated by caricatures and the plots are wafer thin; Rumpole’s courtroom victory usually rests on a single clever, albeit pedestrian observation rather than the usual twists and turns of legal thrillers.

More depressing still is the outdated manner of the writing. Published in 2002 when Mortimer was nearly 80, this had the feel of British culture from two or three decades earlier. Rumpole’s charming self-deprecation is rooted in an unshakeable sense of his superiority (to both his bumbling lawyer colleagues and his colorful defendant clients). Reading Rumpole, I am taken back to the 1970s when we Brits could make fun of ourselves because, in our hearts, we knew there was no conceivable life better than being British. In retrospect, of course, our confidence blinded us to the country’s slow stagnation.

I have probably been generous with my three-star rating. But it’s hard to condemn an eighty-year-old writer who has found a lucrative niche, publishing unambitious, but much-loved books. Also, how to condemn the Rumpole stories when, despite their flaws, they remind me so much of my British heritage, like beans on toast, and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate?
Profile Image for Jeff Crompton.
406 reviews15 followers
February 25, 2022
A fine collection of excellent Rumpole stories. Several of his clients seem determined to sabotage their cases, and at least one succeeds. But the old barrister manages to extricate The Actor Laddie, The Teenage Werewolf, and the rest from their legal problems, against all odds.
1,007 reviews14 followers
February 24, 2018
Over the years I must have seen or heard many of these stories dramatised on television or radio. Nonetheless, familiarity cannot dim the enjoyment I get from a good Rumpole tale. Rumpole is on top form, being as mischievous, thoughtful and humane as ever.
Profile Image for Judy.
1,945 reviews29 followers
July 31, 2011
What can I say? I love Horace Rumpole. These are seven new short stories in which elderly, rumbled, overweight Horace Rumpole, with his daily glasses of Chateau Thames Embankment and small cigars, is the "great defender of muddled and sinful humanity". And that's the public Rumpole. At home, he quietly battles She Who Must Be Obeyed--his wife, Hilda. All of the familiar characters are here in these stories and all are delightful.
Profile Image for Kasia James.
Author 4 books21 followers
September 28, 2012
Good solid stuff from Sir John Mortimer again - an enjoyable ramble through the back corridors of the Old Bailey. I always susepct that barristers would never really get to do so much detective work as Rumpole, but perhaps would like to.
Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,115 reviews8 followers
November 12, 2021
Several short stories written with good humor. A good read for a time of "social distancing" and staying home.

-----------rereading some stories on November 12, 2021. Will probably put in donation box for Princeton Library.
Profile Image for Amy.
Author 2 books153 followers
January 12, 2009
I'm a John Mortimer, particularly a Rumpole, fan. Rumpole will forever,. in my mind, be as portrayed in the PBS production by Leo McKErn.

These were some fine stories that allowed me to revisit with old friends from Rumpole's world.
Profile Image for Doug.
724 reviews
March 12, 2009
I actually listened to this as an audio book. I've done this with two of his books -- Luckily they both had excellent readers that brought the characters to life. Wonderfully enjoyable. Plus I get to walk around hearing my thoughts in a rich british accent for the next couple of days!
Profile Image for Scott.
66 reviews
September 7, 2015
Another delightful Rumpole book. It is like bumping into a long lost friend on the streets and after a few moments of conversation it is as if you'd never lost contact.

Mortimer brings back old familiar faces and adds a few new ones. Fans of the Rumpole series should not be disappointed.
Profile Image for Ilona.
165 reviews22 followers
July 19, 2013
Love the writing, love the wry humour, love the stories. Rumpole is annoying, endearing, self-destructive, self-deprecating, smart, and very, very funny. My grandfather used to read Rumpole books; this is the first I've picked up, but I'll be back for more. Fun!
Profile Image for G Baumann.
46 reviews
December 7, 2014
There are very few book series that have made me want to jump in, walk the rooms, and sit down for a meal with the characters. Second only to to Hogwarts and the Weasley home in the Harry Potter series, with Rumpole is where I want to be.
Profile Image for Priscilla.
476 reviews
June 4, 2015
So much fun, even during short trips. Because the book is broken into chapters of self-contained cases, it was easy to consume during short commutes to and from work. Laughing in the car made provoked sidelong glances from other drivers. Oh, they know not what they are missing!
Profile Image for Sam.
1 review
May 18, 2007
Rumpole is very well written and consistently wry and entertaining.
January 6, 2008
Humorous short stories about a wise old criminal defense attorney who practices mainly in the Old Bailey in London.
Profile Image for Ruth.
4,097 reviews
April 27, 2012
c2003. Ahhh - this was such a sweet little book. I loved it and it was very funny in a dry, understated English sort of way. Rumpole Rules - ok!!!Recommended.
Profile Image for Michael Romo.
415 reviews1 follower
December 17, 2015
Quite often for me it seems that nothing is such a wickedly delicious read as a book full of Rumpole short stories. Once again Mortimer delivers with style.
Profile Image for Joan.
101 reviews2 followers
March 4, 2015
She who must be obeyed...you have to love the Rumpole's sense of humor
Profile Image for Jessica.
1,093 reviews15 followers
May 4, 2015
I love the short format, the quick wit, and the fun methods Rumpole uses to prove his client's innocence. Always a fun read.
Profile Image for Yvonna.
75 reviews1 follower
September 1, 2015
Dry British humor with depth of understanding of human nature. I enjoyed the book very much, and will certainly read more by John Mortimer.
Profile Image for Theodore Kinni.
Author 12 books34 followers
January 20, 2016
Mortimer is in top form in these seven cases featuring Rumpole, the funniest barrister to ever don a wig at the Old Bailey.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 75 reviews

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