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Rumpole on Trial
By John Mortimer
Read by Timothy West

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Rumpole on Trial

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Rumpole on Trial (Mystery Masters Series)
By John Mortimer
Read by Timothy West
The Audio Partners Publishing Corp., (2002)
Seven Complete Stories on Six Cassettes
ISBN: 1-57270-267-2
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - October 31, 2002

This is a fabulous collection of seven unabridged stories featuring the indomitable barrister, Horace Rumpole. These stories, written by John Moritimer, who was himself a barrister, offer a satirical look inside the British legal system. Best yet, they take an in-depth look at Rumpole - his life, his style, and his keen knack for getting to the bottom of 'things'. As a barrister (a lawyer who specializes in appearing in court vs. working behind the scenes), Rumpole is intrigued and charged with upholding the law. However, he is more than willing to cut a few corners and engage in various shenanigans in order to see that justice reigns supreme - even if what he sees as justice is not exactly what the 'law' demands.

Describing Rumpole is a bit of a challenge. His is rotund, a hearty drinker, and the truest of true friends. He also likes to smoke cigars and he spends his money thriftily. He is married to a woman of character that rules Rumpole with an iron will, as Rumpole himself calls her, "She Who Must Be Obeyed." His co-workers are often exasperated by his techniques and what they often see as his disregard for the loftiness of their office. He is at heart, a defense attorney who would never be caught dead working for the enemy - i.e., the prosecution! No matter how you feel about Rumpole, you have to respect the bulldog attitude with which he attacks each case. And you must, as even his enemies do, respect his skill - Rumpole seldom loses even the most hopeless of cases.

Although many of these stories have a serious side, they are, throughout, humorous and witty. You get to laugh at Rumpole, and with him, as he pokes his fingers into the eye of jurist prudence and its many incarnations.

Mortimer wrote a host of Rumpole stories and novels, which were televised around the world, and on the PBS Mystery! series. The televised version, Rumpole of the Bailey starred Leo McKern. A seasoned and well-respected actor, McKern has become the personification of Rumpole. For many, their only familiarity with Rumpole comes from the televised version of Mortimer's stories. Personally, I greatly enjoyed the Rumpole of the Bailey television series, and found that they were excellent adaptions of Mortimer's stories. I was equally pleased with The Audio Partners' audio edition, Rumpole on Trial.

This audio adaptation contains seven unabridged stories: In all of these tales, save the seventh, Rumpole acts as the defending attorney. In the seventh case, however, Rumpole finds that he is the one on trial!

The stories in this collection are read by Timothy West, a British actor with a string of credits to his name. His reading is fanciful, robust, and simply perfect for these tales. He does an excellent job of juggling the various characters, and their voices, and he will have you laughing in no time at all. Best of all, West brings Rumpole to life with vigor and acumen . These tapes are a joy to listen to, the stories fascinating and funny. And once acquainted with Rumpole, you will find that he will be a life long friend. Simply put, Rumpole on Trial is what great literature is all about - in-depth characters that you love, or love to hate, gripping plots, and graphic, unforgettable images created solely from words!

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