Monday, December 31, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Rumpole Misbehaves by John Mortimer

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Rumpole Misbehaves by John Mortimer. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Rumpole Misbehaves by John MortimerBuy from Amazon.com
Rumpole Misbehaves by John Mortimer
A Rumpole of the Bailey Mystery

Viking (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-670-01830-9 (0670018309)
ISBN-13: 978-0-670-01830-7 (9780670018307)
Publication Date: November 2007
List Price: $23.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) may be the pride and joy of the New Labour Party, but they don't cut much ice with Horace Rumpole-he takes the old-fashioned view that if anyone is going to be threatened with a restriction of their liberty then some form of legal proceeding ought to be gone through first. Not that Hilda agrees, of course, but she's too busy completing her memoirs to dissuade him from taking an interest when one of the Timson children is given an ASBO for playing football in the street. And pretty soon he realizes something fishy is going on. Why are the residents pursuing their vendetta against the Timson boy quite so strongly? Could they have a sinister reason for not wanting him on their street?

Review: Horace Rumpole (Rumpole of the Bailey) returns for another case in Rumpole Misbehaves, a delightful mystery in a short novel format by John Mortimer.

It starts out simple enough. A 12-year-old boy has been accused of letting his soccer ball roll into a quiet up-scale neighborhood where the residents are obsessed with keeping everything quiet. They promptly file a complaint against the boy citing an Anti-Social Behavior Order. Rumple is asked by the boy’s father to represent him. When the boy receives a second complaint, Rumple again goes to court on the boy’s behalf, this time to keep the court from sending the boy to a youth prison. In searching out why the residents would complain about a ball rolling on their street, Rumple finds the actual reasons for the complaints: some of the residents are involved in buying and selling young women from foreign countries for the purpose of prostitution. One such young woman, who happened to live on this quiet street, was going to blow the whistle, so to speak, but before she could she was murdered. Although the police have a clear cut case against a civil servant accused of the crime, Rumple goes to his defense.

Rumpole is a criminal lawyer for defense in London’s Old Bailey. He has yet to be elected to the Queen's Council (QC). The QCs are the leaders of the trial proceedings. They wear black silk robes and white wigs and argue the most important cases. With his present case, he needs a QC to lead him. But Rumple has ways of getting around this rule! Yet all actions have consequences, and at one point Rumpole is called upon to defend himself against a complaint of the Anti-Social Behavior Order. He has been accused of eating and drinking cheap wine in his office, singing aloud in his room causing embarrassment to fellow lawyers, and increasing the risk of global warming by smoking a small cigar in his room.

This interesting case is both topical and complex, but the real joy here is in the character of Rumpole and how he uses the system to both his advantage and that of his client. Interspersed between chapters of Rumpole's legal adventures are those of his wife, Hilda (She Who Must Be Obeyed), who offers her own droll and amusing view on life.

Though relatively short, the author covers a lot of material in Rumpole Misbehaves, with great success. It is a wonderful addition to this terrific series.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Rumpole Misbehaves and to Viking for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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