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A Rumpole Christmas (Rumpole of the Bailey #16.1)

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  424 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
The first ever collection of Rumpole Christmas stories, just in time for the holidays. A Rumpole Christmas is a collection of five holiday stories - never before published in book form - depicting the Old Bailey hack at his lovable best. In 'Rumpole and Father Christmas' the English barrister encounters a familiar-looking Santa who he thinks is a thief. In 'Rumpole's Slimm ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published October 29th 2009 by Viking Adult (first published October 15th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jason Koivu
Dec 13, 2015 Jason Koivu rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery, crime
Horace Rumpole, that Old Bailey hack, is at it again, preserving the innocent and undermining the pompous with his razor wit.

A Rumpole Christmas comprises some heart-warming tales, but it's also somewhat sad to read these stories knowing they were published posthumously within the same year of John Mortimer's death. He was a busy writer in his later years, churning out an impressive Rumpole cannon.


Often the stories are very short, relative to Mortimer's average. In fact, a couple of them are m
Dec 09, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, christmas, own
In the spirit of true confession: I have never read anything by John Mortimer before.

I've had him recommended by a number of people, I've heard of Rumpole of the Bailey, but never really thought that much about it. Then I recently realized that Emily Mortimer is his daughter, and I don't know why that intrigued me, but it did. Also, one of the best stories in Betsy Burton's THE KING'S ENGLISH is about Sir John Mortimer and the time he came to the King's English for a signing. (Spoiler: he was d
Feb 04, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it
Barrister Horace Rumpole, defender of the criminal class, loves his work. Fortunately, work finds him even during the Christmas holidays, as readers will discover to their delight in this collection of five Rumpole stories.

In "Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces," the barrister recognizes an old client who had run an exceptionally successful blackmailing operation. Now discovering him with a new name and assumed respectability at a country church event, Rumpole "suggests" that he make a sizable
Mar 14, 2013 Desmond rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, humor
John Mortimer created in Horace Rumpole an enduring figure of British literature that I consider on par with some of the better known characters in their memorability and capacity to entertain.

In this slim volume featuring five short tales all sharing the central theme of taking place during Christmas readers will find Rumpole, his wife Hilda (known to him as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed), and the other occupants of his Chambers at 3 Equity Court, London all make an appearance.

The stories range from t
Feb 07, 2015 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audio, mystery, humor, 2014
Everyone's favorite cantakerous lawyer is back for more glasses of Pomeroy's finest, carping at judges, and winning most of his cases. In this collection, Rumpole puts up with Helga's changing plans for Christmas, resorts to a bit of arm-twisting for a good cause, and has a productive trip to the theater. This story collection is a delight for the Rumpole enthusiast, but doesn't really do much new. As always, Bill Wallis brings the collection to delightful life.
Gary Wallis
Dec 29, 2012 Gary Wallis rated it really liked it
A really enjoyable book. I have never read Rumpole of the Bailey stories and I thought I`d try this one. John Mortimer is a very good story teller and I like Rumpole alot. I think this will lead me to read more of his stories. There are 5 stories in this book but I liked the last one most of all. Good book. ...more
Jan 08, 2010 Becky rated it liked it
The Rumpole character is amusing in a British way. I liked the stories, but the mysteries were not very thrilling. Enjoyed the book and will probably pick up some other Rumpole stories when I want something light and silly to read.
Maughn Gregory
I thought I'd read every Rumpole story and novel before John Mortimer died, so imagine my delight to come across this little gem at Sam Weller's Bookstore in Salt Lake City! Only to be enjoyed with a glass of your local, not-so-fine plonk.
Judy Gehman
Apr 13, 2010 Judy Gehman rated it liked it
A bit of fluff. I guess this book proves that short stories are not my favorite. I do adore Rumpole. A couple of the stories were good, a couple more were only so-so. I think it's probably very difficult to write a mystery as a short story.
Dec 30, 2016 Dvora rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Rumpole stories are always entertaining. Since I received the book as a Christmas gift, I put what I was reading aside (it isn't as jolly) and started in on the fun. And it was fun, except that Hilda drives me nuts. I know it's all humor and good fun, but I can't stand the character who always insults, belittles, and domineers her husband with no sense of loyalty whatsoever. I guess my sense of humor doesn't reach quite that far.
Walt Carlson
Jan 03, 2017 Walt Carlson rated it really liked it
A pretty good collection of Rumpole stories, but not the best. However, reading any Rumpole book is a good use of one's reading time.
Apr 29, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I've loved ( or, at least, really liked) every Rumpole book I've read, esp. the 3 omnibuses. Had no idea this book existed til yesterday, so can't wait to read some new (to me) Mortimer. He is a truly missed author to me and, I'm sure many others.

I couldn't wait any longer to start reading this book. I really needed some Rumpole and that it's new (to me; the stories had been previously published in British magazines before being put together in this collection), was an extremely pleasant surpris
Fiction Addict
Oct 22, 2016 Fiction Addict rated it really liked it

It may seem odd to call a collection “cozy” when the stories involve murder and adultery, blackmail and robbery. Yet it is Mortimer’s particular brand of genius that makes them so. Mortimer keeps the sordid details to a minimum, allowing Rumpole’s singular voice to steal the show. Rumpole as a narrator is humorous without being flamboyant, dry without being boring, intelligent without being stuffy. American humor, I’ve found, tends toward outrageous narrators; Rumpole is much more subdued, the “
Amy Paget
A Rumpole Christmas is a book that can be enjoyed at any time of the year consisting as it does of 5 classic comic tales by John Mortimer featuring Horace Rumpole, British criminal barrister practicing at London’s Old Bailey courts. Mortimer, who died in January 2009, was himself a barrister, and also a novelist and playwright. His first book of tales, Rumpole of the Bailey was published in 1980. 14 other volumes followed. Horace Rumpole is a decidedly politically incorrect, overweight, and freq ...more
Dec 24, 2009 Bridget rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-reads
Well, if there was ever a Christmas collection that could make me smile and laugh out loud, it's this one. I love Horace Rumpole, his wife Hilda (She Who Must Be Obeyed), and the other characters that populate his world. And I used to think that Leo McKern's portrayal of Rumpole in the PBS series was spot on. This is a small collection of Christmas-related stories that have been published before in various places, but I hadn't read any of them, so it was all new and fresh to me.

How sad that John
Oct 21, 2012 Abbey rated it really liked it
2009, holiday-themed collection of previously published stories. Slyly witty Horace Rumpole does always seem to be in the midst of chicanery, one way or the other; here he relates five holiday experiences that were less than salubrious, and entirely non-traditional, even for him.

A compilation of five of John Mortimer's later stories about Rumpole, centered around the Christmas Holiday Season, the price is a bit hefty for its size and content, but the stories gently bring you into the world of Ho
Martha Bullen
Dec 22, 2012 Martha Bullen rated it liked it
This book of short stories featuring the immortal Rumpole is a treat to dip into as time allows during the Christmas season. If you haven't encountered Rumpole before, I encourage you to watch some of the Rumpole of the Bailey TV shows which have appeared on PBS in past years. He's a delightful character and was perfectly portrayed by the British actor Leo McKern.

Horace Rumpole is a London barrister well known for defending a disreputable caste of criminals - who, once in a while, are not guilty
H. P. Reed
This is light British comedy not at its best. But it's charming and comfy like a worn pair of slippers, with the predictable Rumpole and his not quite predictable wife, She Who Must Be Obeyed. Like many older couples they rub along with little fuss and bother. She does rather surprise him in one story by returning from a promised Christmas engagement with a school friend before her time. He is pleased thinking she might have missed him, but is philosophic about her real reason for returning earl ...more
Dec 21, 2009 Judy rated it really liked it
Who doesn't love a tour of the British legal system with Horace Rumpole? These five stories all take place around the Christmas holidays which is never a good time of year for the Rumpoles. They exchange the same gifts each year--he gets a tie and Hilda (She Who Must Be Obeyed) gets lavender water which she sets aside for later, they eat a dinner from the supermarket, and listen to the Queen's Christmas speech. In these stories, the Rumpoles travel to a variety of locations for the holidays, whe ...more
Dec 18, 2012 Ronna rated it liked it
Rumpole and his dry wit are back at it again in this collection of
short tales centered around Rumpole's Christmas holidays away from the courts. Of course, his wife, Hilda--or 'She Who Must Be Obeyed' is always present. The stories include the annual socks and tie present for Rumpole, and the bottle of lavender water for Hilda.

Each different vacation finds a mystery for Rumpole to solve. He also has remembrances of pre holiday cases with Judge Grave'stone', who offhandedly barks his views from
Jan 03, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it
This collection of five holiday stories had be laughing and wondering what was going to happen next. I love how he has named his wife "she who must be obeyed" and how he pushes him from one place to another and at each place he finds someone who had been represented by him or known from a case where a lawyer was needed. It goes from one where a familiar looking Santa who may be a thief, how he was able to get the church renovated including heat was it to keep Old Hack quiet?

When I first started
Jun 25, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it
I know I've sung the praises of Rumpole before and will continue to do so with this review - if you want to read something clever, smart and interesting, read John Mortimer. You'll feel smarter and happier!

*"You're telling me I'm fat?" The thought hadn't really occured to me, but on the whole it was a fair enough description.

* ..."It's advantages are that it is cheap and it can reconcile you to the troubles of life and even, in desperate times, make you moderately drunk. Can I give you a refill?
Dec 08, 2009 Tonya rated it really liked it
This was a really fun read - due largely to the fact that I am already a Rumpole fan. There are lots of references to events or situations in previous books, which make more sense if you know what the comments are referring to...Another fun thing about this collection is that it was published posthumously. John Mortimer died last December, so I felt a bit nostaligic as I read this. Isn't it funny how we attach ourselves to certain authors? This book will join the ranks of books that I try to rea ...more
Dec 14, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys humorout situations, ironic British stories, short stories .
Recommended to Richard by: I read all Mr. Mortimer's work.
What a comfort to return to John Mortimers barrister and all the old familiar characters even though several are seen in different circumstances.

Rumpole has to take time off for the Holidays, and often "She Who Must Be Obeyed" has plans Rumpole would rather avoid. Their attempts to leave London for relaxing sites always lead to disaster for Hilda and unusual solutions to cases for our rumpled hero.

Mr. Mortimer makes the shenanigans at the Old Bailey and Temple Court more like going home for the
Oct 17, 2010 Grey853 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, british, holiday
This is a great short story collection all featuring Rumpole. What a delightful and humorous character. Never one for holiday cheer, he goes a long with different plans for Christmas to please his wife Hilda, whom he refers to as "she who shall be obeyed".

I laughed out loud several times, and that doesn't happen often. There's a dry wit and intelligence that I found very appealing in these short stories.
Dec 15, 2010 Iris rated it liked it
Rumpole is an English barrister. He always semms to stumble onto a mystery wherever he goes. He is a Columbo type character who picks up on subtle clues and solves the case handily in the end. His wife - aka "She who must be obeyed", adds some color to the stories. The other characters range from interesting to contrived and predictable. All in all this is an easy, pleasant and short Christmas read.
Debbie Maskus
Dec 25, 2009 Debbie Maskus rated it liked it
This collection of Christmas short stories appeared in various magazines, and has been collected and printed in one volume, following John Mortimer's death in January 2009. This is light-hearted fun, and a look at the English justice system. Rumpole likes to ensure that every person is given a fair trial, and he often exposed the real criminal in defending his client. Of course, Hilda, Mrs Rumpole, is a hoot as "She who must be obeyed". An enjoyable way to spend a rainy Christmas vacation
Dec 15, 2009 HBalikov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Horace Rumpole, Mortimer's most unusual barrister, is back one final time in a collection of short stories Mortimer wrote in this decade for several British magazines. It was a treat to have one more chance to experience the world through Rumpole's eyes --- from conflicts in "chambers" to the domestic duties under "she who must be obeyed."
This is only for those who have already developed a taste for the character, not for those who are just starting out.
Although listening to this in May is definitely out of season, I had a good time with Rumpole. He and "She who must be obeyed" are interesting characters and the cases in this collection were lots of fun. I am glad I picked this up while I was waiting for my next talking book.

This would not be the book to start with if you have not read any of the Rumpole stories. However, if you have been missing John Mortimer's writing and some how missed this, you should listen as soon as possible.
Jimmy Tarlau
Apr 02, 2011 Jimmy Tarlau rated it liked it
Shelves: listened-to
I'm not very fond of short stories. It takes me time to get into a story and if it is too short, it is over before I get really engaged. I like the rumpole books but this one contains too many short stories. I think there are 8 or 9 in this very short collection. They are fun but a little too short for my taste.
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John Clifford Mortimer is a novelist, playwright and former practising barrister. Among his many publications are several volumes of Rumpole stories and a trilogy of political novels, Paradise Postponed, Titmuss Regained and The Sound of Trumpets, featuring Leslie Titmuss - a character as brilliant as Rumpole.

John Mortimer received a knighthood for his services to the arts in 1998.

More about John Mortimer...

Other Books in the Series

Rumpole of the Bailey (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • Rumpole of the Bailey
  • The Trials of Rumpole
  • Rumpole's Return
  • Rumpole for the Defence
  • Rumpole and the Golden Thread
  • Rumpole's Last Case
  • Rumpole and the Age of Miracles (Rumpole)
  • Rumpole à la Carte
  • Rumpole on Trial
  • Rumpole and the Angel of Death

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“They won’t be guilty until twelve honest citizens come back from the jury room and pronounce them so. In this country we’re still hanging on to the presumption of innocence, if only by the skin of our teeth.” 0 likes
“We are there to make an adversarial system work,” 0 likes
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