Cover image for Rumpole and the primrose path
Title:
Rumpole and the primrose path
Author:
Mortimer, John, 1923-2009.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2003.

©2002
Physical Description:
211 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780670031467
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

With Rumpole Rests His Case, legions of fans welcomed back the curmudgeonly London barrister they had savored for years. In Rumpole and the Primrose Path's six new stories, Horace Rumpole, despite a heart attack that left him at death's door in the previous volume, deftly parries everything from the admonitions of his wife, Hilda, to the vagaries of his legal colleagues and their new director of marketing, Luci-with her cell phone, corporate jargon, and glossy brochures, hired to give their chambers a new image. The title story finds him in a very dubious convalescent home battling a thin-lipped head nurse and befriending a junior one, Dotty. Though the death of an elderly patient is shrouded in secrecy, it is not until Rumpole is back in chambers that he learns of police suspicions-and of the murder charge against which he must defend young Dotty. Presuming Rumpole is soon to expire, Luci has been planning his memorial service, but the witty and irreverent Rumpole, sharp as ever, is far from hanging up his wig!


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

The past decade has been a bit bumpy for fans of the irascible, keen-witted criminal defense barrister Rumpole. First, fans had to wait six years before Rumpole Rests His Case 0 appeared in 2002, and then, when Rumpole suffered a heart attack at the end of the novel, it seemed that he might really be hanging up his horsehair wig for good and pleading his case before the Ultimate Judge. (The real-life death of character actor Leo McKern, for whom Mortimer designed the Rumpole stories, lent further credence to this theory.) Clearly, Rumpole fans have needed some good news, and here it is. Bring out the Chateau Thames Embankment and toast the return of the barrister from near-death and from the clutches of the Primrose Path convalescent home, back to his chambers, the Old Bailey, back to his beloved Timson crime family, to his less beloved "She Who Must Be Obeyed," and, of course, to Pomeroy's Wine Bar. These six new stories showcase everything that is great and good in this long-running series: the sly characterizations of the denizens of Equity Chambers and the Old Bailey; Rumpole's crabby take on change and his incisive wit; and Mortimer's deft plotting. Rumpole takes on a Fagin-like pickpocket on the tube, a murderous nursing-home plot, the new marketing director for Chambers, and the powerful She Who Must Be Obeyed, along with the usual unsavory criminals he loves to defend. This new Rumpole is clearly cause for celebration. --Connie Fletcher Copyright 2003 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

In Rumpole's last outing, Rumpole Rests His Case (2002), Mortimer's beloved barrister suffered a near-fatal heart attack, but as shown in this delicious new story collection, Rumpole still has plenty of life left, despite the preparations some of his blithely insensitive colleagues in chambers make for his imminent demise. In the ingenious title tale, which has been nominated for an Edgar, Rumpole is recuperating in the Primrose Path Home, until the mysterious death of an elderly fellow patient prompts him to slip back to London, where he soon figures out that there's something fishy afoot at his former rest home. The five other entries offer puzzles nearly as clever, though in one story, in which a juror turns out to know someone connected to a murder case, the apparent lack of a voir dire process for screening jurors may strike some readers as odd. As always, however, it is the character of Rumpole and his supporting cast, headed by wife Hilda ("She Who Must Be Obeyed"), that provides such pleasure, along with a perfectly crafted style that owes much to P.G. Wodehouse. If at times the bumbling Rumpole, like Bertie Wooster, must suffer one comic humiliation after another, let it not be forgot that Rumpole, unlike Bertie, is a competent professional who operates in a recognizably real and often nasty contemporary world. May he, as his wife so confidently assumes over their anniversary dinner in the uplifting final story, "Rumpole Redeemed," be back for more legal escapades next year. (Dec. 1) Forecast: Rumpole's latest memoir volume is The Summer of a Dormouse (2001), which reflects some of the same concerns about aging. As usual for Mortimer, this collection will appeal as much to mainstream readers as mystery fans. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

Table of Contents Title Page Copyright Page Dedication Epigraph   Rumpole and the Primrose Path Rumpole and the New Year's Resolutions Rumpole and the Scales of Justice Rumpole and the Right to Privacy Rumpole and the Vanishing Juror Rumpole Redeemed   FOR THE BEST IN PAPERBACKS, LOOK FOR THE PENGUIN BOOKS RUMPOLE AND THE PRIMROSE PATH John Mortimer is the author of eleven other Rumpole books, many of which formed the basis for the PBS-TV series Rumpole of the Bailey. His work also includes many novels and plays and three volumes of autobiography. A former barrister at the Old Bailey, London's central criminal court, Mortimer, who was knighted in 1998, lives in Oxfordshire, England. PENGUIN BOOKS   Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Group (Canada), 10 Alcom Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa   Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England   First published in the Great Britain by Penguin Books Ltd 2002 First published in the United States of America by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2003 Published in Penguin Books 2004     Copyright © Advanpress Ltd, 2002 All rights reserved   PUBLISHER'S NOTE This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.   THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS HAS CATALOGED THE Mortimer, John Clifford Rumpole and the primrose path / John Mortimer. p. cm. eISBN : 978-1-101-00692-4 1. Rumpole, Horace (Fictitious character)--Fiction. 2. Detective and mystery stories, English. 3. London (England)--Fiction. 4. Legal stories, English. I. Title. PR6025.O7552R'.914--dc21 2003053527   Set in Plantin     The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated. For Kathy Lette 'Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine, Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads'   Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3       'I had thought to have let in some of all professions that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire.'   Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 3 Rumpole and the Primrose Path The regular meeting of the barristers who inhabit my old Chambers in Equity Court took place, one afternoon, in an atmosphere of particular solemnity. Among those present was a character entirely new to them, a certain Luci Gribble, whom our leader, in a momentary ambition to reach the status of an 'entrepreneur', had taken on as Director of Marketing and Administration. Mizz Liz Probert, observing the scene, later described Luci (why she had taken to this preposterous spelling of the name of Wordsworth's great love was clear to nobody) as in her thirties, with a 'short bob', referring to hair which was not necessarily as blonde as it seemed, a thin nose, slightly hooded eyes and a determined chin. She wore a black trouser suit and bracelets clinked at her wrists. The meeting was apparently interrupted from time to time, as she gave swift instructions to the mobile phone she kept in her jacket pocket. She also wore high-heeled black boots which Liz Probert priced at not far short of three hundred pounds. 'I'm vitally concerned with the profile of Equity Court.' Luci had a slight northern accent and a way, Liz noticed, of raising her voice at the end of her sentence, so every statement sounded like a question. 'I take it that it's in the parameters of my job description to include the field of public relations and the all-important question of the company's - that is to say' (here Liz swears that Luci corrected herself reluctantly) 'the Chambers ' image. Correct, Chair?' This was an undoubted question, but it seemed to be addressed to an article offurniture, one of that old dining-room set, now much mended and occasionally wobbly, which had been bequeathed to Equity Court in the will of C. H. Wystan, my wife Hilda's father and once Head of our Chambers. However, Soapy Sam Ballard, as ourpresent Head and so chairman of the meeting, appeared to follow the new arrival's drift. 'Of course that's your job, Luci.' Soapy Sam was on Christian-name terms with the woman who called him Chair. 'To improve our image. That's why we hired you. After all, we don't want to be described as a group of old fuddy-duddies, do we?' Chair, who might be thought by some to fit the description perfectly, smiled round at the meeting. 'It's not so much the fuddy-duddy label that concerns me at the moment, although I shall be including that in a future presentation. It's the heartless thing that worries me.' 'Heartless?' Ballard was puzzled. 'The public image of barristers,' Luci told the meeting, 'equals money-grabbing fat cats, insincere defenders of clients who are obviously guilty, chauvinists and outdated wig-wearing shysters.' 'Did you say "shysters"?' Claude Erskine-Brown, usually mild mannered, ever timid in Court, easily doused by a robust opponent or an impatient Judge, rose in his seat (once again this is the evidence of Liz Probert) and uttered a furious protest. 'Linsist you withdraw that word "shyster".' 'No need for that, Erskine-Brown.' Ballard was being gently judicial. 'Luci is merely talking us through the public perception.' 'You put it, Chair, succinctly and to the point.' Once again, Luci was grateful to the furniture. 'Oh, well. If it's only the public perception.' Erskine-Brown sank back in his seat, apparently mollified. 'What we have to demonstrate is that barristers have outsize hearts. There is no section of the community, and we can prove this by statistics, which cares more deeply, gives more liberally to charity, signs more letters to The Times, and shows its concern for the public good by pointing out more frequent defects in the railway system, than the old-fashioned, tried-and-trusted British barrister.' 'You can prove anything by statistics.' Erskine-Brown was still out, in a small way, to cause trouble. 'Exactly so.' Luci seemed unexpectedly delighted. 'So we have chosen our statistics with great care, and we shall use them to the best possible advantage. But I'm not talking statistics here. I'm talking of the situation, sad as I'm sure we all agree it may be, which gives us the opportunity to show that we do care.' Luci paused and seemed, for a moment, moved with deep emotion. 'So much so that we should all join in a very public display of heartfelt thanks.' 'Heartfelt thanks for what?' Erskine-Brown was mystified. 'Surely not our legal-aid fees?' At this point, Luci produced copies of a statement she invited Erskine-Brown to circulate. When Liz Probert got it, she found that it read:   We wish to give heartfelt thanks for the life of one of our number. An ordinary, workaday barrister. An old warhorse. One who didn't profess to legal brilliance, but one who cared deeply and whom we loved as a fellow member of number 4 Equity Court.   'By this act we shall show that barristers have hearts,' Luci summed up the situation. 'By what act is that, exactly?' Erskine-Brown was still far from clear. 'The Memorial Service. In the Temple Church for the late Horace Rumpole, barrister at law. Chair, I'm sure we can rely on you for a few remarks, giving thanks for a life of quiet and devoted service.' It later emerged that at this stage of the Chambers meeting Liz Probert, undoubtedly the most sensible member of the gathering, suggested that a discussion of a Memorial Service was a little premature in view of the fact that there had as yet been no announcement of Rumpole's death. Erskine-Brown told her that he had spoken to She Who Must Be Obeyed, who was, he said, 'putting a brave face on it', but admitted that I had been removed from the hospital to which I had been rushed after a dramatic failure in the ticker department, brought about by an unusually brutal encounter with Judge Ballingham, to the Primrose Path Home in Sussex, and would not be back in Chambers for a very long time indeed. In that case, Liz suggested, all talk of a Memorial Service might be postponed indefinitely. 'Put our programme on hold?' Luci was clearly disappointed. 'It'd be a pity not to continue with the planning stage. Naturally, Mrs Rumpole's hoping for the best, but let's face it, at his age Rumpole's actuarial chances of survival are approximate to a negative-risk situation -' 'And one knows, doesn't one,' Erskine-Brown asked, 'what places like the Primrose Path are like? They call themselves "Homes", but the reality is they are -' Excerpted from Rumpole and the Primrose Path by John Mortimer All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.