Rumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Rumpole of the Bailey is former barrister (lawyer) John Mortimer's first crack at fictionalizing his former life. His hero, Horace Rumpole, toils down at London's Old Bailey defending morally tarnished persons, who usually didn't "do it"...at least not this time around.
This is a batch of humor to lighten the soul with a sprinkle of pathos for real world problems. Mortimer writes in a breezy, almost Wodehousian way, substituting the care-free, silly bachelor for a more curmudgeonly, sly near-retiree. But while Rumpole may be a bit grumpy with his colleagues and wife, and though he defends criminals, he is a thoroughly sympathetic character. Mortimer knows his boundaries and stays within them. He can also be relied upon to tell a satisfying tale competently.
I could've given this five stars, I enjoyed it that much. And there's hardly anything to complain about it. I didn't give a perfect score because it's a collection of light comedy, short stories and so for that reason alone it doesn't seem worthy of 5 stars. That's terribly unfair of me, I know, but it's how I feel right now. It's probably not how I've felt in the past, nor undoubtedly will it be how I feel in the future. It's a funny world, isn't it?
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