The Scruffy Rube’s #CBR5 Review #25: Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders

It’s time for some turbo-charged book reviews, complete with recommendations for those who care for them. They’ve been up here day by day, but if you missed one, or if you want to gorge yourself check out my separate blog

For those who want a particular nerd-itch to be scratched: Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders

This may well be the summer I rediscovered my love of Rumpole: reading Mortimer’s crusty but benign barrister in London, watching Leo McKern play the rotund defender of justice. But I couldn’t end the summer without reading the Rumpole origin story, the case where it all began, when a young Horace Rumpole defended a boy on two charges of murder alone, and without a leader (as he so often mentions in almost every, single story, ever.

Usually, John Mortimer writes Rumpole stories rather than Rumpole novels. Usually 20-30 pages is enough to recap the initial confusion, the early struggles and the stagger revelation that helps Rumpole acquit (or–sadly–fail to acquit) his clients. But in this case, with so much of Rumpole’s past to explain Mortimer takes 215 pages to tell his tale. It’s all worth it, we find how the hero met his wife, how he got connected with a superb solicitor (the go-between for clients and their lawyers in British law), how he earned the trust of his most faithful clients, and why he decided to always defend even the most hopeless of cases.

I doubt that many non-fans would really care to read this origin story (even if it’s available in radio play format featuring that most tumblr-ed of all tumblr-y hunks: Benedict Cumberbatch). But still, if you have a nerd itch to scratch, what better way to do it than with an origin story? If you want an origin story, what better kind than one that perfectly reflects the poetic style and endearing beliefs of the character you care about?

It’s not a great book (just as Rumpole isn’t great literature), but it’s great for me and for a capstone to my summer of Rumpole.

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