Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders

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Overview

"Often mentioned but never before revealed, it's high time Rumpole committed to paper his memories of the Penge Bungalow affair. It would be an affront to history if the details of such a famous case were lost in the mists of time." "Horace Rumpole was a novice at the Old Bailey when the murders at Penge Bungalow first hit the headlines: two war heroes who'd flown numerous sorties together over Europe, apparently shot dead after a reunion dinner by the son of one of them, young Simon Jerrold." Young he might have been, but in those dark postwar
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Overview

"Often mentioned but never before revealed, it's high time Rumpole committed to paper his memories of the Penge Bungalow affair. It would be an affront to history if the details of such a famous case were lost in the mists of time." "Horace Rumpole was a novice at the Old Bailey when the murders at Penge Bungalow first hit the headlines: two war heroes who'd flown numerous sorties together over Europe, apparently shot dead after a reunion dinner by the son of one of them, young Simon Jerrold." Young he might have been, but in those dark postwar days, Simon Jerrold was facing the ultimate punishment. There seemed little he could hope for since the evidence was so incriminating. Even old Wystan - head of Chambers, father of Hilda and conducting Jerrold's defense - seemed to have given up the game. But not Rumpole. There was something about the evidence that bothered him and, though he was only Wystan's junior in the case, when the time came for him to seize the initiative, he did it triumphantly.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Fans of British crime fiction have delighted for years in stories of Rumpole of the Bailey, from his first appearances in John Mortimer's masterful short stories (there are now 12 collections) through the long-running television series inspired by those tales.Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders marks two exciting firsts in the Rumpole saga. It is the irascible barrister's first novel-length appearance, and it's also the much-referred-to but never-before-told story of the landmark murder case that was the earliest triumph of Rumpole's illustrious career.
Patrick Anderson
The Rumpole books are perhaps best suited for readers who are older and more reflective than most, readers who are students of life's ironies and the foibles of human nature -- readers more interested in smiling than in being shocked. They are closer to Dickens than to Dennis Lehane, and I'll swear I heard a few echoes of Larry McMurtry in Mortimer's wry portrayal of the human comedy. If you are the right sort of reader, the Rumpole books will delight you, and we must wish Sir John good health, good luck with his socks and many happy returns.
— The Washington Post
Marilyn Stasio
To read Horace Rumpole's account of his first court case, in John Mortimer's Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders, is to know how archaeologists felt when they clapped their eyes on the Rosetta Stone. All those tantalizing mysteries about how the grumpy sage of the Old Bailey got his start as a young barrister are revealed here, along with answers to questions we never thought to ask … For anyone unfamiliar with this series, here's a charming way to begin.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Mortimer's beloved barrister, Horace Rumpole, at last tells the tale, hitherto mentioned only in passing, of the Penge Bungalow murders, the case that made his reputation as a defense lawyer decades ago. Simon Jerold stands accused of shooting his father, a bomber pilot during WWII, and an RAF buddy of his father's some hours after a quarrel in which Simon threatened his father with a German Luger. Simon appears headed for the gallows with perfunctory defense from C.H. Wystan, Rumpole's by-the-book head of chambers. Leave it to young Rumpole, an inexperienced "white wig," to see a chink or two in the prosecution's case and step up to Simon's defense, even at the risk of ruffling his supercilious superior's feathers. Subplots include the farcical circumstances that lead the romantically challenged Rumpole to become engaged to Wystan's daughter, Hilda (aka "She Who Must Be Obeyed"), and his introduction to the felonious Timson family, one of whose hapless members he defends in an unrelated burglary trial-which incidentally provides a clue to a key motive of one of the principals in the murder case. If a British airman circa 1942 committing treason in the belief that Hitler was going to win the war isn't entirely convincing, Mortimer (Rumpole and the Primrose Path) never fails to delight. Agent, Michael Sissons at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop. (Nov. 22) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Having sold more than a million copies of Rumpole mysteries, Mortimer returns to Rumpole's first case. Mortimer lives in Oxfordshire, England. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Finally, it can be told: the vaunted case that launched the loosest cannon in the English legal system on his nonpareil career (Rumpole and the Primrose Path, 2003, etc.). Fresh (very fresh) out of Oxford in the early 1950s, Horace Rumpole is farmed out to the chambers headed by C.H. Wystan, Q.C. Under the glazed eyes of risk-averse Wystan and golf-obsessed pupil master T.C. Rowley, Rumpole seems unlikely to get into trouble. Circumstances and Wystan's spirited daughter Hilda, however, conspire to get Rumpole appointed junior counsel in the defense of Simon Jerold, accused of shooting his father Jerry, an ex-RAF pilot, and Jerry's rear-gunner Charlie Weston, following a well-witnessed quarrel about military heroism. The boy's vigorous protests of innocence fail to impress either Barnsley Gough, his solicitor, or Wystan, who agree that the best defense is stiff-upper-lip silence before fearsome Chief Justice Jessup. Nor do Rumpole's diversions-the defense of a habitual burglar only too eager to plead guilty despite his obvious innocence and the odd breakfast with Hilda-promise much more fulfillment. But irrepressible Rumpole's soon elbowed his superior out of the Old Bailey, taken over Simon's defense, and plumbed a mystery that wouldn't fool anyone but a child, or a senior member of the bar. The real and considerable joys here are watching Rumpole spread his wings and observing, in what passes for his courtship of Hilda, the seeds of his thrall to She Who Must Be Obeyed. Agent: Michael Sissons/PFD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780792734383
  • Publisher: Sound Library
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Series: Rumpole Series
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 6.38 (h) x 1.57 (d)

Meet the Author

John Mortimer is a playwright, novelist, and former practicing barrister who has written many film scripts as well as stage, radio, and television plays, the Rumpole plays, for which he received the British Academy Writer of the Year Award, and the adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. He is the author of twelve collections of Rumpole stories and three acclaimed volumes of autobiography.

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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

A Letter from John Mortimer

Dear Reader:

The joy of mystery or detective novels is that they have to tell a story, they have to surprise readers and, in the end, they have to offer explanations for the bewildering problems of life. Rumpole, a well-seasoned, eccentric criminal barrister, is also a detective, a defender of our human rights, and, I hope, an endearing comic character. I love writing him because by now he seems practically to speak for himself. He has been a great friend to me and I don't think he'll die before I do.

The Penge Bungalow Murders is the first full-length Rumpole novel; until now, he has only appeared in short stories and on television. He has always talked of the Penge Bungalow case that he won "alone and without a leader." But that story, like Sherlock Holmes's case The Giant Rat of Sumatra, has never been told before.

Now it is told, as Rumpole remembers his youth. In the course of that, he also remembers the cunning way in which he was steered into marriage by his formidable wife, Hilda, always known to him as "She Who Must Be Obeyed." I think this book is a good introduction for new readers of Rumpole. They can meet him here in both his maturity and in his ambitious youth. It also has much to offer seasoned Rumpole readers, who will finally learn why the Penge Bungalow case was so important to Rumpole, both in the Old Bailey and at home with "She Who Must…"

Has Rumpole changed over the years? Of course! He has become more experienced, more confident in court, better at laughing at and making jokes about pompous judges and serious barristers. But I think his courage, his tolerance, his passionate belief in human rights and true justice have always been with him -- certainly ever since he won the Penge Bungalow murder case alone and without a leader.

Writing The Penge Bungalow Murders, I had to remember our society in the '50s, just after World War II. Many things were changing, but we still imprisoned homosexuals and we still had the death penalty. So, in defending Simon Jerold on the charge of shooting his ex-RAF officer father, Rumpole was fighting for his client's life, which hasn't been the case in any of his more recent murder trials.

It's a real pleasure for me to hear from readers, or to go out on book tours and meet readers whom I hope I've given pleasure and entertainment. It gives me the strength and confidence to go back to the lonely job of telling stories, luring readers into turning the pages to find out what's going to happen next, and to think about the mysteries of life and, I hope, to sometimes laugh.

Regards,
John Mortimer

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    terrific Rumpole legal thriller

    Horace Rumpole looks back to just after graduating from Oxford to work his first legal case. Five decades ago Rumpole bit his acerbic tongue to defend a client Simon Jerold accused of a double murder, that of his father and a friend using a pistol taken from a deceased World War II German aviator. The evidence seems overwhelming and the legal fraternity shies away from defending the accused as no money can be made. Stunned by the reaction of his peers Rumpole dives into the defense with idealistic zeal.--- Rumpole quickly learns that the jurisprudence system is a haven for corrupt barristers trying to squeeze pounds out of helpless and at times innocent criminals. He drops the gloves applying his saber wit on opponents as he defends his client with his belligerent in your face manner. He will use that technique for the next five decades defending the downtrodden against powerful opponents except Hilda Wyston who he has just met through her father and quickly becomes known as ¿She Who Must Be Obeyed¿.--- This is a terrific Rumpole legal thriller that fans of the series will fully treasure due to the documenting of his first case referenced in many of the short stories. The deep support cast consists of ¿felons¿ from all sides of the legal systems, family members, and lest we forget the client. Though newcomers will feel aspects of the case and the protagonist¿s background seem missing (a tendency to rely on references in other books), readers will find pleasure with the character driven case that fans have wanted for seemingly almost as long a time as the hero looks back.--- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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