Friday, 18 September 2009

Review – John MORTIMER – “The Anti-social Behaviour of Horace Rumpole”

Publ: 2007
Pensby Library
ISBN: 978-0-141-03064-7
Genre: Legal fiction; humour
Pages: 200p
Found by Serendipity
Rating: ***** *

What led you to pick up this book?
The delightful cover illustration by Tony Healey – a caricature of the late Leo McKern who played Rumpole so brilliantly on TV.

Describe the plot without giving anything away.
A twelve year old boy is given an ASBO (an Anti-social Behaviour Order) for playing football in the street in Britain’s latest fight against major criminals. Rumpole sets out to defend the boy (and a murder suspect) whilst himself running the risk of getting and ASBO in his chambers.

What did you think of the characters and style?
This is the first Rumpole novel I have read though I watched the television series with great enjoyment years ago. Without having Rumpole’s character already fixed in my mind from Leo McKern’s brilliant performances I’m not sure how I would have viewed this. Despite all the characters being ‘over the top’ the TV makes them credible and great fun. In this book, Rumpole alone stands out as the character of any depth though She-who-must-be-obeyed tries quite hard to join him (in more ways than one).

What did you like most about the book?
Rumpole’s sarcastic ‘what I didn’t say’ asides.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book?


Thoughts on the book jacket / cover
Excellent – see above.

Would I recommend it?
I would certainly recommend reading one Rum;pole novel to get the flavour and see if you like them. Personally I’d rather have Henry Cecil’s style of highlighting the absurd contradictions of the English legal system.

Totally irrelevant side note:
Restaurant and food critic Pru Leith measures the quality of food by whether it is worth the calories. I suppose a similar measure for books would be whether they are worth the time. This little volume (200pages of large print) didn’t take long but it is still a borderline case. Watching a couple of hours of the TV series would be a better use of that time.


‘The meeting had begun by our client refusing Bernard’s offer of a cigarette, a normal way of putting prisoners at their ease, with a long lecture on the dangers of smoking. An odd sort of attitude, I thought, from a man accused of inflicting the far greater danger of manual strangulation.’

‘The test of democracy is the tolerance shown by the majority to minority opinions.’

‘What did my darling old sheep of the Lake District say? We come into the world trailing clouds of glory and then terrible things begin to happen.’

JOHN MORTIMER (1923 - 2009) was a novelist, playwright and former practising barrister. Among his many publications were several volumes of Rumpole stories and a trilogy of political novels featuring Leslie Titmuss - a character as brilliant as Rumpole. John Mortimer received a knighthood for his services to the arts in 1998.

1 comment:

  1. I have never read, not watched a Rumpole..or any John Mortimer actually..being what I consider to be a voracious reader in the main..that must be corrected shortly...


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