Cover image for The sound of trumpets
The sound of trumpets
Mortimer, John, 1923-2009.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, [1998]

Physical Description:
272 pages ; 24 cm
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This final volume in the trilogy that began with Paradise Postponed and Titmuss Regained, sees the dawn of New Labour in the Hartscombe constituency. The embittered Lord Titmuss fondly remembers his days with Thatcher, and sees in the New Labour candidate the perfect instrument for revenge.

Author Notes

John Mortimer is the author of many books including twelve volumes of Rumpole stories, as well as the bestselling "Summer's Lease" & "Paradise Postponed". He lives with his wife & youngest daughter in the house in Buckinghamshire that his father built.

(Publisher Provided) Playwright and novelist John Mortimer was born in London on April 21, 1923. He attended Brasenose College in Oxford. While working as a barrister in the 1960s, he became known as a defender of free speech and human rights. His novels Paradise Postponed, Titmuss Regained, and Summer's Lease were all made into successful television series. He has written many film scripts as well as stage, radio and television plays, which include A Voyage Round My Father and the adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisted. He is the creator of Horace Rumpole and the plays about the character won him the British Academy Writer of the Year Award. His other works include numerous stories about Horace Rumpole, Clinging to the Wreckage, and Murderers and Other Friends. He died on January 16, 2009 at the age of 85.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Paradise remains postponed in the third installment of Mortimer's scathing indictment of sociopolitical tomfoolery in contemporary Britain. The names and parties have changed, but the egos remain the same, as the Thatcher era gives way to the Labour revolution. Even in the face of shifting political sands, the indefatigable conservative Leslie Titmuss wheels and deals, manipulating a local parliamentary election from far behind the scenes. The puppet on his string is Labour candidate Terry Flitton, who is only too ready, in the manner of real-life liberals on both sides of the ocean, to hug the center of the political spectrum in order to get elected. Again echoing obvious real-life parallels, Terry is brought down by scandal, and if it is orchestrated by Titmuss, our fair-haired labourite is more than ready to help in his own demise. Though the author's wit remains finely tuned, this novel lacks the multidimensional impact of its predecessors. Mortimer capably blasts every clay pigeon lofted in his direction, but target shooting has its limits as a spectator sport. Fine satire but without the tragicomic edge we've come to expect from the series. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Simply because England's political tides have turned from Tory Thatcherism to Blairite New Labour does not mean that Mortimer's Machiavellian Leslie Titmuss will be any less entertainingly scheming than in Paradise Postponed or Titmuss Regained. Although Titmuss has retired from Whitehall to write his dreaded tell-all memoirs, he takes a keen interest in Terry Flitton, Labour's candidate for the newly open parliamentary seat for the districts of Hartscombe and Worsfield South. Titmuss sees in Flitton an instrument of revenge against the party that betrayed his beloved Iron Lady, while Flitton, to his dismay, realizes that Titmuss possesses the killer political instincts that he lacks and needs. Mortimer, though a Labour voter, is a bipartisan satirist, skewering with equal enthusiasm both parties' rhetoric and campaign tactics. Flitton's farcical, accidental enlistment in the B-list local fox hunt not only provides a hilarious chase sequence, but also slyly dislodges conservative and contemporary mores. Flitton, however, should not be mistaken for a Blairite politician. It is precisely his old-fashioned ideals that are at odds with his success at the polls, his tenure in the new government and his downfall when Titmuss claims his Mephistophelian fee. At once lighthearted and cold-blooded, The Sound of Trumpets amusingly completes Mortimer's trilogy on modern Britain's rocky, convoluted political landscape. (Feb.) FYI: Viking will issue repackaged editions of Paradise Postponed and Titmuss Regained in January. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One A bird, one of the Red Kites restored to our skies as a result of careful breeding in the Nature Area, drifting among the grey and pink clouds of a September dawn, had the best view of the impact of recent history on the Rapstone Valley.     The most serious blot on the landscape was Fallowfield Country Town which, from the bird's eye view, looked like a pile of bricks which a giant's child had failed to tidy up. There lay the towering Computers-R-Us, the monster Magic Carpet store, the multi-storey car park, the grim pedestrian walkways and the glass roof of the shopping mall, opened, somewhat grumpily, by the former Minister for Housing, Ecological Affairs and Planning (H.E.A.P.) and local M.P., the Right Honourable Leslie Titmuss.     Away from Fallowfield the Red Kite swooped low over pockets of rural resistance, where woods enclosed an uncultivated grassland in which unusual orchids and butterflies flourished. A few nervous deer, descendants of the herd once paddocked at Rapstone Manor, pricked their way across a road and bolted into the shadows, where an awakened badger lumbered and snorted.     Pale sunlight glittered on the river at Hartscombe, a town in which the shops, hard hit by the Fallowfield supermarkets, had sunk to selling little but greetings cards and pine furniture and frequently changed hands for reasons of bankruptcy. In a house by the bridge Agnes Simcox, née Salter, awoke from an uncomfortable dream which featured death. She felt for a cigarette, lit it and blew a perfect smoke-ring at the ceiling, coughing comfortably. The house, still known as `The Surgery', had belonged to two doctors, both of whom she had loved. One of them, her father, had often said that a visit to the Surgery was the first step on the road to the cemetery. She thought, not for the first time, that she must clear out the medical equipment, the trusses, crutches, stethoscopes, vaporizers, bandages, swabs and numerous boxes of free samples from drug companies which filled her cupboard under the stairs.     She stubbed out her cigarette in the saucer of last night's cup of tea and went to the window wearing nothing but a man's blue shirt, frayed round the cuffs. A woman just fifty, beautiful, with lines bought with laughter and trouble at the corners of her eyes, she pulled at her hair, shaping and reshaping it as she looked up at the brightening sky and saw a Kite hovering. Paul Fogarty, grey-haired, sleep ironing out the furrows on his daily troubled face, lay naked in his bed in the Skurfield Young Offenders' Institution of which he was the governor. He saw a line of youths, pinch-faced, matchstick-armed, with huge, sad eyes, chained together at the ankle, straining to lift huge hammers and break stones, the quarry dust turning them grey as statues. The guards were bulky men with cowboy boots and walrus moustaches, carrying bull-whips and shotguns. A boy fell and his dropping hammer cracked his skull, the blood clearing a red channel in the dust. The Home Secretary, it seemed to him dreaming, had passed new laws to crack down on juvenile crime. He awoke to the sound of the telephone and was relieved to find himself back in his bedroom, among the primitive paintings, the curiously suggestive plaster casts and wood carvings, the framed poems descriptive of life in custody, created by the young offenders.     `Fogarty! Didn't wake you up, I hope. Just called to remind you about the lad Johnson.' The voice in the governor's ear was brisk, determined, used to command.     `What about Johnson?' Was it bad news? The governor felt a moment of dread, a longing to put back the telephone and, returning to bed, pull the covers over his ears.     `You remember you promised I could have him on day release. Give the lad a spot of work experience. Teach him a trade. Weeding. You'll remember we discussed that?'     `I think so.' Paul the governor remembered a visit from a senior politician, interested in young offenders.     `Then you've no objection to making it today? I want to get my money's worth, you know. Give him an early start.'     Day releases were a scheme the governor encouraged. `I'm sure that will be all right,' he said. `I'll alert the staff.'     `Good. Norman, my driver, will be with you in half an hour. When will you want him back?'     `No later than six.'     `No problem at all. I'll make sure he's mugged and murdered all the weeds in the rose garden. Oh, by the way, Fogarty. I've given your nick my seal of approval. Happened to bump into the Home Secretary at Chequers.'     The governor put down the phone without saying thank you. No disaster had been announced, and he was glad that one of his young offenders was getting a day's work in a rose garden. However, he could get along, as he had in the last four years, without the dubious blessing of the Home Secretary. He had a moment of unease when he remembered that the boy to be let out for the day was universally known as `Slippy' Johnson. But then he relied on the impeccable authority of the voice on the telephone and stopped worrying. At the top of a hill behind Hartscombe church a white house stood in its impressive spread. There were no surrounding trees, so it lay naked and unashamed with its newly built swimming pool flanked by columns on which the coach lamps still glowed, although the day had now broken.     A green towel, still wet, with a pair of spectacles resting on it, was draped over a plastic poolside chair. A light breeze stirred the water, causing a blue and scarlet ball to bump against the concrete. Something else in the pool moved gently. A man in his late thirties, the black hair already leaving the pale crown of his head, crammed into a leopardskin bikini, with his hands manacled behind his back, floated face downwards. The ping-pong ball in his mouth was held in place by a handkerchief tied as a gag. Although he was undoubtedly dead the Kite showed no particular interest in him but wheeled away towards its home in the Nature Area.     The next day's papers announced that Peter Millichip M.P. had suffered a heart attack during an early-morning swim. At the general election his majority had been seven thousand, and his death would cause a by-election in the constituency of Hartscombe and Worsfield South. Copyright © 1998 Advanpress Ltd.,. All rights reserved.