As it happens, I’m making my way again through The Second Rumpole Omnibus by John Mortimer when I read this morning of the author’s passing yesterday, Friday January 16, 2009. What a loss. Each evening lately I’ve settled in to read another installment in the life of the British barrister whose motto is “Never Plead Guilty.”
Last evening, I’d just completed Rumpole and the Female of the Species, in which Rumpole not only conducts two exemplary cross-examinations, winning the case for his client – a Timson of course (turns out the real culprit is a woman) but also witnesses his co-counsel Mrs. Phillida Erskine-Brown take silk and maneuvers his pupil Fiona Allways into chambers. With this installment Mortimer proves that those who think that “Rumpole is in some ways unsympathetic to the aspirations of women” (principally because he refers to his better half as “She Who Must Be Obeyed”) “are guilty of quite unworthy cynicism.”
The joy of a Mortimer’s Rumpole tale is that it is an amalgam of an interesting criminal case often with a display of skilled trial techniques and always twists and turns together with insights and stories about the life in Chambers, in the mansion flat in Foxbury Court and in Pommeroy’s Wine Bar. Sadly, there will be no more new tales, but tonight Rumpole will be battling on in The Second Rumpole Omnibus thanks to John Mortimer.