Forever Rumpole: The Best of the Rumpole Stories by John Mortimer

Fourteen stories, out of almost eighty written between 1978 and 2004, represent “the best” of Rumpole’s career. As a bonus there are the six pages from the novel Mortimer was working on when he died.

Whilst the world outside moves on, the essentials of life remain the same for barrister-at-law, Horace Rumpole – a glass (or bottle) of Château Thames Embankment, the occasional trip to Pommeroy’s Wine bar en route to “She Who Must Be Obeyed” at Foxbury Mansions and, rather less occasionally, jabs at and triumphs over his senior colleagues in Equity Chambers.

The crimes and the criminals might have changed over the course of his long career, but Rumpole’s trust in the legal system, his delight in overcoming all that is pompous and snobbish about the law and his sense of humour remain undimmed.

This is the first time I’ve written a review before I’ve finished the book. Cheating? Maybe. But I prefer to think of it as rationing the pleasure. Although most of the stories were familiar to me, from earlier books and/or the TV series starring the brilliantly cast Leo McKern, they remain a delightful way to spend an evening.

Verdict: Well rounded plots, a sympathetic central “character”, neat endings, humour, justice, good writing – what’s not to like my old darlings? ****

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