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Rumpole and the Reign of Terror (Rumpole Novels)by John Mortimer
Synopses & Reviews
The bestselling barrister is back¬—and ready to take on his most timely case yet
When Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders¬—John Mortime‛s first Rumpole novel ever¬—debuted last year, devoted fans came to it in droves. Now, just in time for Christmas, Mortimer returns with another Rumpole novel to tackle a truly relevant topic with his signature wit and style.
While defending a mind-numbingly dull theft charge, Rumpole finds that the new terrorist laws have hamstrung his beloved courts. Meanwhile, a Pakistani doctor has been imprisoned without charge or trial under suspicion of aiding al Qaeda in its plans for a terrorist attack. With the docto‛s wife begging him to help her husband, the Great Defender is determined to bring the case before a jury.
Trouble is also brewing at home as Hilda¬—She Who Must Be Obeyed¬—sits down to write her own memoirs describing her view of Rumpole and her own love life. Rumpol‛s battle on the home front threatens to derail his case but where ther‛s a Rumpole, ther‛s a way!
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"My editor, a good and wise man, suggested that for Christmas Day we might seek kinder, gentler fare than the serial killers, ax murderers and insane cannibals who often populate these reviews. He even proposed a book: the latest of John Mortimer's popular series on Rumpole of the Bailey, the English barrister whose tales are more likely to offer whimsy and gentle satire than scenes of horror. The... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) Rumpole stories often feature the tribulations of his long marriage to Hilda, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed. In his professional life, as a defense lawyer at Old Bailey, London's central criminal court, Rumpole is frequently seen defending the Timson family, a 'respected clan of south London villains' who rarely stoop to violence, preferring 'straightforward breaking and entering, burglary and the receiving of stolen property.' Yes, it would seem that between the formidable but loving Hilda and the felonious but nonviolent Timsons, the new Rumpole novel could elicit a heartwarming, or at least innocuous, review, one suitable for a day devoted to carols, children, family gatherings and love for humankind. That is, however, not entirely the case. As its title suggests, 'Rumpole and the Reign of Terror' has its darker moments. Poor Rumpole, before it is over, must wonder if he has lived too long, into an age when he can look to neither matrimony nor the Magna Carta for support. At the outset, while defending a Timson on a charge of breaking and entering, he meets his client's cousin Tiffany Timson, who has escaped the family crime business by marrying an idealistic Pakistani doctor named Mahmood Khan. This unfortunate fellow, despite a spotless record, has been arrested and charged under the Terrorism Act. Rumpole, having agreed to take the doctor's case, quickly learns two things: First, under the new law the government can hold Khan indefinitely without divulging any details of his purported crimes. Second, just about everyone, from the Timson family to Rumpole's own wife, believes that if the government has charged a Pakistani with terrorism, he must be guilty and thus deserving of confinement without trial. On the home front, Hilda has bought a laptop and is writing her memoirs, grimly determined to tell the world 'what it was like to live with Rumpole night and day and particularly over the weekend,' when he is home all day. We learn that she does not enjoy being called She Who Must Be Obeyed and believes that she has only been 'making suggestions to him, entirely for his own good, on such noncontroversial subjects as his filthy habit of smoking small cigars which pollute the atmosphere.' Soon the aggrieved woman is accepting invitations to lunch from a judge named Bullingham, whom she finds quite charming, although her husband (unaware of these trysts) derides him as Injustice Bullingham and the Mad Bull. Before this flirtation has played out, Rumpole finds his more or less happy home confronted by the awful possibility of divorce. In court, when Rumpole demands basic rights for his client, he's told he's living in the past. One official declares that the prime minister 'can't be handicapped by medieval laws.' To which Rumpole sputters, 'Magna Carta. The Bill of Rights. You call these medieval laws?' The government is not above offering Rumpole a judgeship to shut him up, nor is Rumpole above blackmailing the home secretary to win a public trial for his client. All this is related with Mortimer's usual wry glimpses of the legal universe, such as the female judge who 'wore no makeup, although it was said that she allowed herself a thin line of lipstick when trying murder cases.' Mortimer is clearly outraged by recent anti-terrorism laws — in his own country and presumably in ours as well — that deprive accused persons of long-established legal safeguards. He would no doubt remind us that, even today, as most of us enjoy family and good cheer, thousands of people around the world are being deprived of freedom and basic rights. Still, at least in the Rumpole books, it is the nature of Mortimer's art to provide happy endings, so you may assume that his beleaguered barrister manages to extricate his Pakistani client from the mess he's in. Whether things would work out so neatly and well in the real world is another matter, but at least on this day of peace and goodwill, Mortimer's seems the right ending to the story." Reviewed by Graham Joyce, whose most recent book is 'The Limits of Enchantment'Joanne Harris, who is the author of 'Gentlemen & Players'David Treuer, who is the author of the novel 'The Translation of Dr Apelles' and 'Native American Fiction: A User's Manual'Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
A Pakistani doctor has been imprisoned without charge or trial under suspicion of aiding al Qaeda in its plans for a terrorist attack. With the doctor's wife begging Rumpole to help her husband, the Great Defender is determined to bring the case before a jury.
John Mortimer's bestselling barrister is back, in his most timely case yet
Just in case Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders gave fans the impression that the Great Defender was resting on his laurels, his new case sends him at full sail into our panicky new world. Rumpole is asked to defend a Pakistani doctor who has been imprisoned without charge or trial on suspicion of aiding Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, on the home front, She Who Must Be Obeyed is threatening to share her intimate view of her husband in a tell-all memoir. The result is Rumpole at his most ironic and indomitable, and John Mortimer at his most entertaining.
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.
About the Author
John Mortimer is a playwright, novelist, and former practicing barrister who has written many film scripts as well as stage, radio, and television plays, the Rumpole plays, for which he received the British Academy Writer of the Year Award, and the adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. He is the author of twelve collections of Rumpole stories and three acclaimed volumes of autobiography.
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