John Mortimer—novelist, playwright, memoirist, and the author of more than eighty Rumpole short stories—will never be forgotten. While still a practicing barrister, Mortimer took up the pen, and the rest is literary history. His stories featuring the cigar-chomping, cheap-wine-tippling Rumpole and his wife, Hilda (aka "She Who Must Be Obeyed"), have justly earned their place in the pantheon of mystery fiction legends, becoming the basis for the very successful television series Rumpole of the Bailey. Bringing fourteen of Rumpole's most entertaining adventures (seven of which were collected in The Best of Rumpole) together with a fragment of a new story, Forever Rumpole proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Rumpole is never less than delightful.
At the start of Rumpole and the Younger Generation, the first story in this posthumous best of collection, Mortimer s curmudgeonly, Wordsworth-quoting barrister, Horace Rumpole, mentions that he ll be sixty-eight next birthday. The case at hand involves a younger member of South London s nonviolently criminal Timson clan, and a key point in the accused lad s trial hinges on the date of a Rolling Stones concert that year, 1965. In the penultimate, post-9/11 entry, Rumpole and the Christmas Break, Rumpole defends a Pakistani student accused of murdering a history professor, Honoria Glossup (a name borrowed from Mortimer s literary mentor, P.G. Wodehouse), who wrote a book critical of the cruelties committed by Islamic fundamentalists. In the decades in between, in a number of witty, ingeniously plotted adventures that often deal with issues of the day (the women s movement, animal rights, euthanasia), the ageless, principled barrister must contend with colleagues who scheme to bring about his retirement (when they aren t hoping for his demise); judges who blatantly favor the prosecution; and his disapproving wife, Hilda (aka She Who Must Be Obeyed ). A glass or two of Chateau Thames Embankment at Pommeroy s Wine Bar offers consolation. Ann Mallalieu, a barrister who worked with the, alas, mortal Mortimer (1923 2009) and made the selections, provides an illuminating introduction. A fragment of an uncompleted novel rounds out a volume sure to be treasured by both old fans and new.