Horace Rumpole - cigar-smoking, claret-drinking, Wordsworth-spouting defender of some unlikely clients - often speaks of the great murder trial, which revealed his talents as an advocate and made his reputation down at the Bailey when he was still a young man.
Now, for the first time, the sensational story of the Penge Bungalow Murders case is told in full: how, shortly after the war, Rumpole took on the seemingly impossible task of defending young Simon Jerold, accused of murdering his father and his father's friend with a German officer's gun. And how the inexperienced young brief was left alone to pursue the path of justice, in a case that was to echo through the Bailey for years to come.
©2004 John Mortimer (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
A reader from my youth in several languages, to have now discovered Audible is more than a bonus.
At last, light upon the leit-motif that runs throughout the Rumpole compendium. At last, the knowledge of why Horace was "alone and without a leader". At last, an understanding as to why the Timpsons happened to use the Equity Court "old taxi". At last, the detailing of how She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed transferred from the African Continent to the Gloucester Road. Totally satisfying!
"Finally, the infamous Penge Bungalow Murder!!"
This is John Mortimer's beloved character's quintessence. The case Horace Rumpole did ( alone and without a leader) that was his shining star. Quite humourous at points and always intelligent, this is one of the best books in my collection.
"The Truth Will Out"
Finally, after decades of hearing about this famous trial conducted by the Bard of the 'Bailey, "alone, and without a leader", I know the truth about the absent Leader.
Of course, I have know nearly from the start that Rumpole hardly needed a Leader and I had guessed that SWMBO's dearest "Daddy" might be at the heart of the absenteeism, but it is another thing to know the truth. And, as every good trial lawyer will tell you, the truth will come out, no matter what we might do to impede it (albeit in "the best traditions of the Bar"). Still, like all great secrets, shrouded in the mists of myth for decades, when it outs, the truth is not always as surprising as we might hope. That's how I felt about this title.
(There is a bit of a SPOILER coming, so skip the next paragraph now if you don't want to know).
The plot is as good as ever and Rumpole is as cynically and brutally brilliant as ever. But, like all great yarns, it might have been better for this one not to be told. For once I found myself analysing the evidence, which I've never felt the need to do with Mortimer's previous excursions along crime alley. I felt a hint of resentment that the bloodstains I heard so much about, and about we knew so little, were not front and centre. However, I was pleased to learn of the origins of the relationship between Rumpole and Chateau Thames Embankment and his defence of the ever grateful Timsons.
The late Bill Wallis' characterisations are terrific, especially the women. His Hilda is wonderful, but only to be out done by his Dodo. His Rumpole is good too, but no one can capture Horace like Leo McKern, of course. That is not a criticism however, merely a fact.
Again, I am pleased that I listened to this tale, but in the end, if I did not know the whole truth, I would be only a little less enriched.
"Penge Bungalow Murders"
Again a wonderful listen but not his best. If you are a Rumpole fan you will have to listen to this case, often mentioned in his other works. Bill Wallis does a great job as the narrator. I highly recommend all the Rumpole books.
This is a terrific story, exceptionally well told. I listen on my way home from work, in my car. Made the traffic jams bearable! terrific storyline and great intelligence and wit.
I will listen to more Rumpoles from now on.
"The New Voice of Rumpole"
Would I listen to it again? What a silly question. Not only would I listen to it again, I PLAN on listening again...and again and again. Why? Because John Mortimer's flagship character, Horace Rumpole, is one of the greatest, if not THE greatest literary invention since Falstaff, only Horace is far more likable.
Not really. If you've read any Rumpole books, you already know he's going to win, but it was fun finding out how he did it.
Bill Wallis, as I implied in my title is the new voice of Rumpole, the late Leo McKern having been the holder of that title heretofore. As much as McKern embodied the Rumpole character however, I doubt that even he, great actor that he was, could have surpassed Mr. Wallis in his ability to create a voice and a distinct personality for each and every character in the book. His was a truly awesome performance.
I smirked and tittered throughout. I laughed aloud, many, many times.
A must have for all true Rumpoleans.
"A little too long. Probably for Rumpole fans only"
I like John Mortimer's writing and I am a great fan of the original Rumpole TV series, starring Leo McKern. However, in spite of wanting to like this book, I found it a little tedious. For me it was too long and the story line was not strong enough. It might be that I was so keen to hear about Rumpole’s most famous case that my expectations were too high, or it might have been that I have become used to more complex and fast moving stories. Either way, I would only recommend this for Rumpole fans that want to finally find out what happened in that Penge bungalow. I would however like to give great credit to Bill Wallis, the narrator, who did a great job in providing believable and unique voices to all of the characters.
"A Great Listen"
This is a great listen. I love the Rumpole stories and this gives a good bit of background to the characters many of us know and love, as well as the story of Rumpole's oft quoted first legal triumph 'alone and without a leader'. Whilst you could listen to Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders as a standalone novel, I think that reading/listening to some of the other Rumpole books first would give you a more rounded enjoyment of this story.
As usual Bill Wallis does an excellent job of narration, he embodies the characters beautifully and really adds to the audiobook experience.
"At last-the"creation myth" for Rumpole."
Bill Wallis was the ultimate performer of audiobooks. He could do old/young, male/female, of any social stratum, English regional, Scots,( varied - Edinburgh or Glasgow, Highland or Lowland) Welsh, Irish and other accents like no one else I've heard.
I'm glad John Mortimer had time to write the Rumpole origin story before he died - otherwise it would have been subject to "spinoff".
Don't expect total consistency - not from Rumpole (check your own memories) or from Mortimer, but it is a good story of that mysterious professional triumph, "alone and without a leader"!
Young Hilda plays her part, and BW makes her sound a younger and more idealistic "She-who-must-be-obeyed", thwarted in her own career, in spite of her intelligence and education - no ladies' loos in Chambers! - and her adoption of the socially and sexually inept Rumpole is described.
These two people, never able to recover from English middle-class upbringing by nannies and early boarding schools - although Hilda at least enjoys long homosocial relationships with Dido, and others - actually "love" each other just as much as they are able.
Over the course of Rumpole's long fictional history, I think the saddest thing is Hilda reduced to battles with Horace over the cost of Vim. But at least he never grudges her a gin and tonic!
"pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this"
Having never found time to watch or read any Rumpole I was pleased to use a period of air travel to listen to this adaptation. I was committed to listening to the full story almost immediately.
The various voices of the different characters were excellent.
Certainly Rumpole himself.
Great reading for long plane journey.
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