A Rumpole Christmas by John Mortimer A Rumpole Christmas by John Mortimer
Series: Rumpole of the Bailey #16.1
Published by Viking Books on October 29, 2009
Source: On shelves
Genres: Christmas, Mystery, Short Stories
Pages: 161
Format: Hardcover
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four-half-stars

Of the late Sir John Mortimer's many beloved characters, it is widely agreed that Horace Rumpole was his greatest fictional creation. Here, collected in book form for the first time, are five delightful tales that capture the beleagured barrister at his grumpy, yet warm-hearted best.

Rumpole isn't particularly fond of Christmas Day-he finds it has a horrible habit of dragging on as She Who Must Be Obeyed leads him through the usual rituals. But at least the criminal fraternity rarely takes a holiday. Whether it's a suspicious Father Christmas, or an unseasonably nasty murder trial, there's always something wonderfully unlawful to liven up Rumpole's dull holiday plans.

I have some books that come out every year with the Christmas decorations. Some I’ve read multiple times, like A Christmas Carol, and some I haven’t gotten around to yet. This year I finally picked up A Rumpole Christmas from the stack and thoroughly enjoyed the stories. I’m familiar with Rumpole of the Bailey and “She Who Must Be Obeyed.” I feel like I must have seen some episodes back when it was on PBS Mystery! which we used to watch almost weekly.

Barrister Horace Rumpole, defender of the criminal class, loves his work. Fortunately, work finds him even during the Christmas holidays, whether it be spending Christmas at a health farm when a murder occurs, meeting former clients under interesting circumstances, or being booked into the same hotel as a judge.

Rumpole character is funny, wry, and insightful, and some of his comments about terrorists and the Church could have been made now. He honestly enjoys defending his clients and does his best for them, both in the courtroom and with a bit of investigating. I’m going to have to read some more of the Rumpole stories. This collection is a perfect read for the week before Christmas. The stories are all short, but interesting and clever.

About John Mortimer

Sir John Clifford Mortimer CBE QC FRSL (21 April 1923 – 16 January 2009) was an English barrister, dramatist, screenwriter, and author. Among his many publications are several volumes of Rumpole stories and a trilogy of political novels, Paradise Postponed, Titmuss Regained and The Sound of Trumpets, featuring Leslie Titmuss – a character as brilliant as Rumpole. John Mortimer received a knighthood for his services to the arts in 1998.

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