Friday, February 24, 2012

Rumpole At Sea - John Mortimer

Theme for the Week: Murder on The Seas

Story: Rumpole At Sea
Author: John Mortimer
Source: Murder on Deck, Death Cruise.
Story Number: 55
Quoting from the introduction to this story in Murder on Deck:  Hilda Rumpole is determined to enjoy a second honeymoon on a cruise ship with her long-suffering  husband, the "Old Bailey hack" Horace Rumpole. "She Who Must be Obeyed" prevails, and the two set out for a Mediterranean cruise, which becomes a busman's honeymoon for the barrister when his shipmates - including a despised Judge - are convinced that a passenger has mysteriously and suspiciously disappeared. This story proves again John Mortimer's inimitable abilities to entertain while making a serious case for the fundamental tenets of British Justice.
Rumpole goes into hiding and decides not to step out his cabin on seeing Justice Graves on the cruise ship - a judge with whom he has had some serious issues off late. Interestingly, the judge reciprocates the exact same feelings! Ultimately when they come face to face accidentally, they decide to play out the game of judge & defense lawyer to humor each other on the ship, to a case of what appears to be the mysterious disappearance of a woman. The judge has an able ally in the form of a detective novelist who fittingly plays the role of the plaintiff. The detective novelist is on the lookout for a plot for his new mystery novel and he thinks he has got one being played out right before the eyes of the passengers - he builds up a wonderful case against the man whom he believes is responsible for the disappearance; he even uses the technique of reading the circumstances of the case as  the first chapter from his new book  to trigger a reaction from the individual under suspicion only to be foiled by Rumpole's  antics of defending the man as he would have in a court of law. Highly entertaining tale with numerous hilarious repartees being exchanged by the three leading gentlemen.

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