Rumpole and the Reign of Terror by John Mortimer
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Every time I finish a Rumpole book, I figure "Well, that must be the last of them..." and then I find another! Having just taken the time to look over John Mortimer's list of Rumpole's, I see I've got about 9 or 10 more to go. Huzzah!
I love reading about the British legal system and viewing it through the eyes of that most lovable of curmudgeons, Horace Rumpole, a defense lawyer who believes a man is innocent until proven guilty. He's a hero for the oppressed, put-upon and wrongfully accused.
Granted, these Rumpole stories do get a bit cartoonish, what with the overly cruel judges and daft prosecutors, and then usually somewhere towards the end there's a Scooby Doo-like reveal ("I would've gotten away with it, if it weren't for you meddling kids!") as you'll often find in so many mysteries wherein the villain admits to the crime and gives himself away. At least Mortimer usually waits to use this story expedient until after the criminal is absolutely cornered, so it's not too annoying a tactic.
Rumpole and the Reign of Terror is a most interesting new addition to a series that started in the '70s. The subject matter has shifted with the times and now takes in the terrorism topic. London in the early 2000s was a target for terrorist activities and knee-jerk reactions were to be expected. Mortimer uses the tension, stress and terror of the general populous as a talking-point topic in order to produce yet another of his entertaining tales of the legal system at work.
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