Friday, August 12, 2016

When bad, Rumpole's very good

Rumpole Misbehaves (2007), the last of John Mortimer's novels about veteran British barrister Horace Rumpole, gives us more of what we expect (and desire) from these stories, as well as something new. What's new? Well, Hilda, She Who Must Be Obeyed in Rumpole parlance, decides to study law herself. Why should her husband have all the fun? Meanwhile, Rumpole, who for years has ridiculed the initial QC after the names of higher-ranking lawyers as meaning "Queer Customer," decides to try to become an elite Queen's Counsel himself. And thanks to Hilda's intervention, Judge Bullingham, Rumpole's longtime adversary in the courtroom, someone who can always be counted on to take the prosecution side, intervenes on his behalf.

Meanwhile, Rumpole gets the chance to defend, "alone and without a leader," a man accused of murdering a prostitute. He has other cases, too, all of which seem to conveniently aid him in defending the man being tried for murder.

As for the misbehavior mentioned in the title, Rumpole ignores a workplace directive prohibiting food, drink and smoking in chambers. The barrister manages to defend himself as ably as he defends his clients.

This is hardly one of the late John Mortimer's best Rumpole stories, yet it is great fun and not to be missed by fans of the series.

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