Select one of the keywords
Rumpole and the Reign of Terror    by John Mortimer order for
Rumpole and the Reign of Terror
by John Mortimer
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Softcover

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Horace Rumpole, the legendary criminal barrister of the Old Bailey, is back in action in another entertaining mystery from John Mortimer, the author of one Rumpole novel and twelve Rumpole collections, many of which formed the basis for the phenomenally popular PBS-TV series of some years ago.

Rumpole's colorful and spirited wife Hilda (She Who Must be Obeyed) has been working secretly on her own memoirs (which become the focus of alternating chapters in Rumpole and the Reign of Terror), but Rumpole (the principal narrator) remains oblivious to his wife's needs and interests because he has a new client (which comes as a relief after a bit of a drought for the aging veteran of the English courtroom).

This client, though, has a huge problem that even Rumpole may not be able to solve: Dr. Mahmood Khan, originally from Pakistan and more recently of Oakwood Hospital in London, has been arrested on charges of terrorism based on his alleged involvement in a plot to blow up London.

Many people, even including Hilda, 'think that terrorists don't need defending' and believe that they should instead be simply locked away, but Rumpole willingly takes on the doctor's case. As for himself, Khan doesn't seem to take the charges seriously. With an 'amused stoicism ... behaving like David Niven in some ancient film of understated heroism,' Khan seems peacefully devoted to the British way of life and is totally 'devoted to the royal family, roast beef, and cricket.' He 'even likes the English weather.'

Perennially fond of cigars, a glass or two of Chateau Thames Embankment, and leisurely hours at Pommeroy's wine bar, Rumpole the Great Defender will make astounding discoveries in the case of the Crown versus Khan. In fact, Khan's defense will depend very much on whether or not everyone is who he or she seems to be, and Rumpole is about to make quite a few people more than a little uncomfortable as he pursues the truth. And along the way, the traditional domestic tensions in the Rumpole household threaten to reach an ultimate crisis, especially when Hilda attracts the attentions of another admirer.

Readers who fondly remember Mortimer's earlier tales of the indomitable barrister will thoroughly enjoy Rumpole's latest legal adventure. Provocative, timely, and highly recommended, Rumpole and the Reign of Terror is first-class entertainment. Don't miss it!

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews