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Rumpole of the Bailey [Paperback]

Sir John Mortimer
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 April 1978
Horace Rumpole is the lovable, irreverent, claret-swigging, poetry-spouting criminal lawyer immortalized on TV. By the author of "Rumpole and the Golden Thread" and "In Character".

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (27 April 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140046704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140046700
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.9 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 545,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars like the best soothing comfort food! 27 May 2007
By Roman Clodia TOP 50 REVIEWER
Rumpole is one of those perennials that once you've read, you have to keep returning to. An almost Dickensian 'Englishness' and eccentricity informs these marvelous books: this is the first of the series, introducing Rumpole, his wife Hilda (She Who Must Be Obeyed), and the collection of oddities that comprise his chamber in Temple.

The TV series was marvellously accurate, but for me the stories just about beat them: warm, witty, funny and sometimes oddly moving, Mortimer's sheer humanity shines through these stories.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very British hero 27 Nov 2009
By tsl04
This is the first of John Mortimer's books about the barrister Horace Rumpole, defender of the downtrodden, an expert in bloodstains and typewriters, the successful advocate in the defence of the Penge Bungalow Murders (alone and without a leader), and regular quoter of the Oxford Book of English Verse (the Arthur Quiller-Couch version).

Rumpole is to the world of criminal law what James Bond is to international espionage. A leading man who is in many ways as tragic as he is heroic, and who passionately believes in upholding his dearest values, primarily the presumption of innocence and the sport of verbal jousting with judges and the prosecution.

In this book's six stories (subsequently serialised for television as season 1 of "Rumpole of the Bailey"), we follow selected trials from Rumpole's career, aided and abetted by a supporting cast of very British oddballs. These range from his formidable wife Hilda (aka She Who Must Be Obeyed) to the utterly ineffectual Guthrie Featherstone QC, his head of Chambers, taking in beautifully drawn caricatures of judges, lawyers, clients and criminals based on people from Mortimer's real-life courtroom experiences.

You don't need to be an expert in law - or even have much of an interest in the British justice system - to appreciate this book. More than anything, these are quirky, human tales of a man who consistently champions the cause of the (allegedly) criminal underdog, being equal parts barrister-at-law, detective and courtroom entertainer, who encounters a never-ending variety of odd people and situations in the course of plying his trade.

Incidentally, this book is also available as part of "The First Rumpole Omnibus". Either way, it is a thoroughly good read. Simply retire to a quiet corner with a bottle of finest Chateau Fleet Street and enjoy the trials and tribulations of this most British of heroes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dated but Delightful 23 April 2008
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Rumpole is a recalcitrant barrister, eccentric, old fashioned and brilliant. He loves being the oldest enfant terrible in his chambers, wearing disgraceful hats and nurturing the criminals he defends in The Old Bailey.

Mortimer writes Rumpole in the first person, as a series of story based reminiscences of his cases. The wonderful thing about Rumpole is that however opinionated he is, he is happy to admit his foibles and is as anarchic in his own way as his pet criminals. He has a wonderful take on life and although these stories are dated in the extreme they have a terrific charm which makes them well worth a read.
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