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Rumpole Misbehaves    by John Mortimer order for
Rumpole Misbehaves
by John Mortimer
Order:  USA  Can
Viking, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

It seems so long ago that the redoubtable Horace Rumpole enjoyed his astounding success with the Penge Bungalow murders case. It was at that point that his career as the perennial junior barrister at 4 Equity Court Chamber began to move into high gear. Now, many years later, Rumpole is still a junior partner, his career seems to have decelerated into a lower gear, and the cases have been less frequent. Everything, though, might be on the verge of changing because Rumpole is suddenly busy with four different and seemingly unrelated challenges.

First, he has been asked to represent twelve year old Peter Timson (one of the infamous Timson family, a clan of scofflaws who have over many years frequently relied upon Rumpole's representation at court); the youthful Peter has run afoul of increasingly intrusive and absurd government regulations and has been served with an ASBO (antisocial behavior order) violation for disturbing a quiet neighborhood's peace by being so inconsiderate (and antisocial) as to play soccer in the street.

Second, Rumpole has been handed an unusual and apparently open-and-shut case of murder. Graham Wetherby, a thirty-three year old government worker, has been accused of strangling and murdering a London prostitute from Russia named Ludmilla Ravenskaya.

Third, because of the not so subtle manipulations of his wife Hilda (She Who Must Be Obeyed), and because of Graham Wetherby's insistent and peculiar demands, Rumpole has finally decided to apply to be elevated to the status of Queen's Counsel and thus move to the front of the bench at the bar whilst wearing the prestigious silk gown.

Fourth, while focusing on his two cases and his application for promotion, Rumpole suddenly finds himself served with an ASBO violation; it seems as though perturbed colleagues in his office have had enough of Rumpole's eating, drinking, smoking, and singing within the presumably staid and proper chambers. Thus, with the full force of the government behind them, the not-so-collegial colleagues are determined to force Rumpole to change his ways, and the pernicious ASBO (with its ludicrous threat of imprisonment for non-criminal behaviors) seems to have been perfectly designed for the purpose.

But Rumpole, of course, is not about to allow himself or anyone else to be victimized by absurd government regulations or false allegations. With unflagging vigor and resourcefulness, Rumpole marshals his energies in opposition to the ASBO violations (Peter Timson's and his own), in opposition to the government's peculiar case against the apparently guilty Graham Wetherby, and in furtherance of his not fully enthusiastic application for advancement to QC. And along the way, as Rumpole searches high and low for exculpatory evidence to exonerate Wetherby - very high (in the government) and very low (in society) - Rumpole makes astonishing discoveries that will, oddly enough, establish connections between, and serve up solutions for, every one of his four challenges.

Rumpole Misbehaves is another top-notch entertainment featuring the beloved barrister. Courtesy of author John Mortimer, Rumpole has been around for nearly thirty years, and every installment is an absolute delight (either in print, mostly in the short stories, or on the former television series). If you're already familiar with the many Rumpole mysteries, Rumpole Misbehaves is almost everything you could have hoped for (although, coming in at 196 pages, it is frustratingly short for someone like me who is an absolute Rumpole fanatic). If you aren't familiar with Horace Rumpole, his wife Hilda, and the barrister's curious collection of colleagues at 4 Equity Court chambers, what are you waiting for? You simply must read Rumpole Misbehaves!

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