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Rumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer Review

Title: Rumpole of the Bailey

Author: John Mortimer

First published January 1, 1978

208 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780140046700 (ISBN10: 0140046704)

Rating: 3.99


Meet Horace Rumpole, the witty and unconventional barrister who prefers a glass of claret to the rigors of the courtroom. In this collection of six short stories, Rumpole navigates the English legal system with his trademark irreverence and poetry-quoting wit.

Join him as he defends a younger generation, takes on an alternative society, and goes up against an honorable member of Parliament. Along the way, he encounters a cast of colorful characters, including the sneaky Erskine-Brown, bumbling Guthrie Featherstone, and a host of lawyers and clerks.

If you love crime fiction with a dash of humor, Rumpole of the Bailey is the perfect read.

About the Author

John Clifford Mortimer had a multifaceted career as a barrister, novelist and playwright. He authored a number of books, including collections of Rumpole stories and a political novel trilogy – Paradise Postponed, Titmuss Regained and The Sound of Trumpets, which features the character of Leslie Titmuss, who is just as remarkable as Rumpole.

In recognition of his contributions to the arts, John Mortimer was knighted in 1998. The series he created include Rumpole of the Bailey and the Rapstone Chronicles.

Editoral Review

John Mortimers classic novel, Rumpole of the Bailey, first published on January 1, 1978, is a masterful exploration of the British legal system and one mans quest for justice. Mortimer, himself a barrister, imbues his protagonist, Horace Rumpole, with an irreverent wit and a deep respect for the law, creating a character who remains beloved by readers worldwide.

The novel is primarily set in London, in the Old Bailey courthouse where Rumpole dutifully appears day after day to defend a colorful cast of clients. We follow him through his trials and triumphs, as he struggles to navigate a complicated legal system that is often stacked against him.

Along the way, we are introduced to a variety of memorable characters, from Rumpoles stern British wife, Hilda, to his eccentric colleagues in the chambers. At the heart of the novel is the tension between justice and bureaucracy.

Rumpole frequently clashes with judges and prosecutors who seem more interested in their own egos than in serving the truth. Yet he remains doggedly committed to the principle of fairness, even when it means defending unpopular clients like petty criminals and prostitutes.

Mortimers prose is sharp and witty, filled with memorable turns of phrase and a sly humor that keeps the story moving along. He has a keen eye for the absurdities of the legal system, and his characters are drawn with deft strokes that bring them vividly to life.

Whether he is describing the stately chambers of the court or the raucous world of the local pub, Mortimer creates a richly detailed world that feels both authentic and timeless. At the same time, Rumpole of the Bailey is a highly political novel, with implications that resonate far beyond the courthouse.

Mortimers characters struggle with issues of class, race, and gender, and his stories often highlight the injustices that are perpetuated by those in power. In this way, the book remains highly relevant today, reminding us of the ongoing struggles for justice and equality that continue to play out in our own time.

While there are some flaws in the novel, such as a few repetitive plotlines and a tendency to rely on caricature at times, these are minor quibbles in what is otherwise a highly entertaining and thought-provoking read. Mortimers writing is incisive and engaging throughout, and his creation of Rumpole is a true literary achievement.

Overall, Rumpole of the Bailey is a must-read for fans of legal dramas and anyone interested in the complexities of the British legal system. Mortimers skillful storytelling and vivid characters make for a compelling and entertaining read, while his thoughtful exploration of justice and fairness provides important insights that remain relevant today.

Highly recommended.