four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
15-Mar-Apr-2005
user_rating: 
0

A-RumpoleCrusty barrister Horace Rumpole has starred in more than 100 stories, but until now his past has been something of a mystery. In this fictional memoir, Rumpole at last recounts the particulars of the seminal Penge Bungalow case that cemented his illustrious career. In the 1940s, a man stands accused of shooting two war heroes—his father and his father’s friend—with a pistol taken from a German pilot. The young Rumpole, however, sees a few holes in the prosecution’s case—and his beliefs shape his future career.
Viking. 214 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0670033561

Detroit Free Press 4 of 5 Stars
"… good old-fashioned smarts. … The outcome of the case is never in doubt, but Mortimer keeps so many balls in the air—Rumpole’s love life, courtroom politics, other cases—that things never really slow down." Ron Bernas

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"To read Horace Rumpole’s account of his first court case … is to know how archaeologists felt when they clapped their eyes on the Rosetta Stone. … And a brilliant piece of work it is, too." Marilyn Stasio

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The Rumpole books are perhaps best suited for readers who are older and more reflective than most, readers who are students of life’s ironies and the foibles of human nature—readers more interested in smiling than in being shocked. They are closer to Dickens than to Dennis Lehane, and I’ll swear I heard a few echoes of Larry McMurtry in Mortimer’s wry portrayal of the human comedy." Patrick Anderson

Critical Summary

For fans of this British crime fiction series, Rumpole is a must read. First introduced in a radio play 30 years ago, Rumpole has since populated 12 collections of Mortimer’s short stories as well as a television series. This novel-memoir (the first long piece of fiction starring Rumpole) relates the backstory of the ornery trial lawyer’s success, introduces readers to beloved characters, and answers questions about everything you ever wanted to know about Rumpole, including his predilections for wine, love, and criminal defense. "For anyone unfamiliar with this series," notes The New York Times Book Review, "here’s a charming way to begin."