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Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders

(Rumpole of the Bailey #13)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,790 ratings  ·  175 reviews
The Rumpole renaissance continues to build, and now the beloved barrister’s many followers have a special reason to rejoice: a sensational full-length Rumpole novel that at last relates the oft-mentioned but never revealed story of Rumpole’s first case, the Penge Bungalow affair. Looking back half a century into a very different world, Rumpole recalls a man accused of murd ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 25th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published October 7th 2004)
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 ·  1,790 ratings  ·  175 reviews

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Jason Koivu
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comedy, mystery, fiction
After reading four or five of the books and seeing a few of the tv show episodes based on them, the notoriety of London Barrister Horace Rumpole's greatest case "The Penge Bungalow Murders," much mentioned by himself, had reached legendary status. Yet, I'd never read about it. I didn't know the details, and so it took on a mysterious mythology. Unable to take the suspense any longer, I finally and joyously read John Mortimer's Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders.

This might be my favorite Rump
David R. Dowdy
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british, humor, justice
Horace Rumpole sets about upholding justice and fair play for the downtrodden, common folk of society and leaves us laughing along the way. We want him to win and gloat because he does it for us.

We want him to make things right. We want him to dress down tyrant justices and abusive aristocrats of business and government. We want him to win with humility. He does all that and more.

Read how Rumpole made a name for himself by nudging his way to become the defender of a man in the Penge Bungalow mu
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Imagine that you have been accused of two murders which you did not commit.
Your legal defense is an elderly lawyer who does not want to upset the judge and so does nothing.
Then you meet the young unproven Rumpole. Can he save you?

I had taken a law degree at Keble College, Oxford. As learning law in those days entailed an intimate knowledge of the Roman rules for freeing a slave and the rights of ‘turfage’ over common land (scraps of information which I have never found of the slightest
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was aware of Rumpole. Had watched a few of the episodes. John Mortimer was a regular on the interview circuit for many years and I always enjoyed what he had to say. Inevitably an intelligent mix of pertinent observations on the world and delightful one-liners. Yet it took me until now to read a Rumpole novel. The downside is that I've missed out on a treat: here is a legal miscreant to go alongside Frost and Wexford: the upside is that I've got it all to come. A golden new seam has been opene ...more
Jeff Crompton
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Regular Rumpole readers know that the crusty barrister frequently refers to this early case of his, which he won "alone and without a leader." In 2004, Rumpole (or Mortimer) finally decided to give us the details. It's a wonderful novel, as good as the best of Rumpole. It's fascinating to see how the events recounted here contribute to the formation of Rumpole's later character and habits. Highly recommended for Rumpole fans.
Rob McMonigal
Feb 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Returned to an old friend as the audio book reading continues. I am a huge fan of the character of Horace Rumpole, the cantankerous old barrister who thrives on saying--under his breath of course--all the things we'd like to say to pompous lawyers, judges, and various other people that tend to act far more important than they really are.

This time around, Rumpole finally gets around to telling us about the case that put him on the map--the Penge Bungalow Murders. Longer than most Rumpole stories,
Robert Hobkirk
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In the Rumpole series, he is continually referring to his first murder trial where he got the wrongly accused off and cheated the hangman out of his day's pay. Mortimer always lifts my spirits with his wit and true to life characters. If you have never read John Mortimer, check him out. He's brillant as the Brits say.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a confession to make... Although I love the character of Horace Rumpole, AKA Rumpole of the Bailey, I hitherto preferred the wonderful television series starring Leo McKern to the books. This is no slight on Sir John Mortimer QC, who wrote both the screen and page versions.

During my Rumpole binge last year, I only really enjoyed the Rumpole short stories that were not TV episodes. (I have never embraced the short story genre: besides modernist fiction, such as the masterful creations of K
At last John Mortimer has finally rewarded his fans with the case he he been teasing us with for years. The infamous Penge Bungalow Murders! How great to get a glimpse of the young Rumpole!
Michael Marstellar
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
Audacious, witty and sparring with the biased snobbery judge barrister Horace Rumpole delights in what he states in both the TV show played by Leo McKern and in the books, I'm assuming the books (this is the first book I read/listened to of the RUMPOLE series) since Rumpole, in the show, so frequently brings-up this case as his greatest case.

The audiobook version is read by Bill Wallis who I, at first, was disappointed it wasn't Leo McKern reading the book, but my disappointment quickly changed
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Readers of Rumpole of the Bailey, written 30 years ago when Rumpole was 68, will recall that he decided not recount his famous victory in the Penge Bungalow murders alone and without a leader. He said that he could hardly recognize that younger version of himself.

Here he relents as he approaches his centenary year, thanks to the health giving benefits of Chateau Thames Embankment, and tells the story he omitted so long ago. Not surprisingly, he actually remembers his younger self quite well and
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Rumpole is a great character, and the TV series certainly captures John Mortimer's defense lawyer to a "T." I was perfectly content with Rumpole as played by Leo McKern, and felt no need to read the stories (which in any event wrere brough to the screen practically word for word); but with McKern's death, Mortimer has written an end to screen adaptations of his character. Not so with the books and stories, however, and "Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders" is a welcome addition to the continu ...more
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
In the twelve preceding books in this series, Rumpole has never missed an opportunity to celebrate his first big victory in the Penge Bungalow murders case. Now we get to hear that story completely for the first time.

Bravo to Rumpole for believing in innocent until proven guilty and fighting for his client all the way. About three quarters through I sort of figured it out, but thrilled to see Rumpole pull it off.

Perhaps better read later than as a first, but great nonetheless.
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is Rumpole looking back on his 'first' case.

It introduces you to young Rumpole - a young barrister who gets caught up in a 'hopeless' case. In the meantime he meets young Hilda - 'she who must be obeyed!' - who obviously becomes a long-term feature of the books.

I listened to the audio which was well-read and contributed to the appreciation of the witticisms!
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: at-the-farm
This is the first Rumpole book that I have read and I really liked it. It wasn't much of a "who done it", but the dry British wit more than made up for the lack of suspense. Looking forward to reading more of them.
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Finally! The whole story of the Penge Bungalow Murders is revealed. Long time fans of Rumpole will be delighted.
Apr 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I really enjoyed this case & became quite absorbed in it. The narrator Bill Wallis did a great job with the various accents. ...more
Monica Ramsey
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm normally not one for British humor, but this book had me chuckling aloud to myself several times. It's a pretty quick read, the voice is excellent, and the characters are well written. I may have to check out more stories with Rumpole.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Now we finally hear the details of Rumpole's 1st successful case; the case which introduced him to "She Who Must Be Obeyed" and to Pomeroy's Bar. It was romping good time!
Bill Plott
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My first exposure to Horace Rumpole. A delightful character and a a very readable mystery story. I will seek out more of these.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Listened to as an audio book with Benedict Cumberbatch as the young Rumpole. Witty, dry and amusing, so well delivered and paced, loved it and look forward to hearing mire.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoyed watching Rumpole of the Bailey on television years ago, but had never read the books until I saw this one in a charity book sale.
I really enjoyed this story and realised that Leo McKern was such a good choice to play Rumpole on the television.
Horace Rumpole is a fairly newly qualified barrister and a junior member of chambers. As a white wig, he doesn't get to be lead barrister, but when the lead is asked to stop defending a young man charged with a double murder, Rumpole is re
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sitting down to write his memoirs Rumpole reflects on his very first case and how he came to be the chief defender in it.

It is the early 1950s and two former RAF heroes are found murdered in their respective bungalows in Penge. Simon Jerold, the son of one of the victims, is accused and everyone believes him to be guilty, particularly C H Wystan, engaged as his QC.

Rumpole, however, has other ideas and his line of questioning leads to Wystan withdrawing and leaving him as the main man for the de
Jul 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, humorous
Maybe I am being a bit tough with my ratings. I like this, but I prefer the mature, confident Rumpole who insults judges and is subtly subversive in chambers (well, not all that subtly when I think about it). I like to read this from time to time to remind me of how it all started.
Maze Branch Oak Park Public Library
Donna led this discussion on 02/02/16.

This book is the "first in time" in the Rumpole series.
William Garver
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful. I finished it in a day. I had forgotten how much I missed the company of Horace Rumpole.
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Simply fabulous. So good I read it in a single day!

This is definitely a book for Rumpole fans and tells the story that begins our hero's career.
John Reid
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
When this book was first released 12 - 15 years ago, it put everything in perspective, especially why the case to which Horace refers time and again over the years was so important to him and his future in the law. I've just reread a couple of the Rumpole tales and had a good chortle over much of their content, but will concentrate solely on this, The Penge Bungalow Murders, because it's arguably the most important of all (well, certainly to the man we see nowadays as a character who looks remar ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The long-awaited telling of Horace Rumpole’s oft-mentioned victory in his first major trial involving the Penge Bungalow Murders, after realizing that many members of his own chambers are ignorant of a case that decades earlier was in all the papers.
It’s strange to imagine a fresh-faced, uncertain and inexperienced Horace Rumpole, only recently called to the bar, but such fun to see him meeting Hilda Wystan, the young woman who even then was a force to be reckoned with before becoming his wife
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At long last we get to find out the details of the oft-mentioned Penge Bungalow Murders. John Mortimer and Rumpole do not disappoint. I have been going through all the Rumpole collections of stories in order (and also the TV show) and have enjoyed each and every one of them. This is the first one which could be considered a novel though, but still it is filled with the Rumpole wit, familiar and eccentric characters and a fairly easy to follow plot which is not too difficult to figure out prior t ...more
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English Mysteries...: July 2014 - Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders 48 109 Sep 03, 2014 10:14AM  

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John Clifford Mortimer was 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.


Other books in the series

Rumpole of the Bailey (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • Rumpole of the Bailey (Rumpole of the Bailey, #1)
  • The Trials of Rumpole
  • Rumpole's Return
  • Rumpole for the Defence
  • Rumpole and the Golden Thread (Rumpole of the Bailey, #5)
  • 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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