Title: Rumpole and the Reign of Terror
Author: John Mortimer
Originally Published: 2004
This is a top shelf book.
I had briefly seen an old hardcover of one of John Mortimer’s Rumpole anthologies at work but hadn’t ever given it the time of day. A week and a bit ago my boyfriend came home with this one from our local BMV (Books, Music, Video – they buy and sell all of those things) – it was short, seemed funny, and therefore was a high contrast to the Christopher Hitchens autobiography I’m currently working my way through.
I love when I read books that are funny. It’s so rare when I’m reading that I find myself engrossed in something that actually makes me laugh – I have a tendency to choose very serious pieces about how awful humans are as a species. There were so many amusing things in this book I was pleasantly surprised.
Mortimer is British so make sure you are aware of that before you start – you might need to brush up on some British Parliament terms as you work your way through the novel. I certainly had to take a bit of time to try to get just a basis of knowledge on their different court systems. I think, for me, that was the only slight drawback from the text but that’s really my fault, not the author’s, since he can’t be expected to take his time to explain every last detail of a Parliament system just in case his reader isn’t British.
Besides it being amusing and well-informed on the workings of the courts, I found Rumpole to also be a statement on the world we are living in today. Like it or not, we exist in a world of fear: everyone is an enemy, anyone can be killed, anything can happen, always be prepared. Our governments are proactive rather than reactive and sometimes that doesn’t quite work. This great little book also held a great little statement on our attitudes towards terrorism and how accepted it’s become to accuse, detain, and try people on no more than a hunch. While you’re laughing, you’ll probably have a few moments where you stop to think for a few seconds.
A clever little story with clever characters and a clever moral background. British in its humour and writing style – perfect for anyone who enjoys satire and Fawlty Towers.