Rumpole: The Age of Mysteries & other stories

Carved stone pillars outside a courthouse.

Rumpole: The Age of Mysteries & other stories
Audiobook cover for Rumpole: The Age of Mysteries & other stories
A few years ago, one of my aunts sent my mother a few omnibus volumes of Rumpole stories, who later gave them to me. Each of the omnibus volumes contains multiple short stories from the fictional memoirs of Horace Rumpole, the renowned barrister sometimes referred to as “Rumpole of the Bailey”. Although the stories are interesting and engaging, I haven’t made my way through all of the volumes yet. Still, when I was looking for interesting audiobooks to listen to, several of these Rumpole audio dramas showed up, so I decided to give one a try and see if it was worthwhile.

Rumpole: The Age of Mysteries & other stories is sort of a mix between audio drama and audiobook, though it’s in keeping with the style of the original Rumpole texts. Those mostly take the form of Horace Rumpole’s memoirs, but he describes conversations he has with colleagues, clients, and family members. In the audiobook sections, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the part of Horace Rumpole narrating his memoirs, but in audio drama sections, there are several other actors playing the different roles. This makes Rumpole: The Age of Mysteries & other stories not-quite-an-audiobook and not-quite-an-audio-drama, but something of a fusion between the two.

I won’t detail the different stories, mainly because I’ve forgotten them, and also because I was getting confused trying to recall whether I had read the different stories. The plots and the details of the stories aren’t overly important. What is important is whether I enjoyed them, and I did. Rumpole: The Age of Mysteries & other stories is an entertaining work that I enjoyed while traveling to and from work. The audio quality was great, as were the actors. However, there was a downside.

It’s a peculiarity of Audible’s pricing model that most works are the same price; 1 credit. This means that lengthy works, like The Origins of Totalitarianism, cost the same as shorter works such as Rumpole: The Age of Mysteries & other stories. While I didn’t feel like I was ripped off, I did feel as if I hadn’t gotten my money’s worth. There are several other Rumpole audio dramas from the BBC featuring the same actors, yet they are split into other volumes. To me that only makes sense if the BBC or Audible is trying to maximize profits by splitting one work into many. Overall, I’m disappointed by this model and decided not to spend more credits one more of the Rumpole audio dramas. Entertaining as they are, they’re not so entertaining that I felt justified in spending more.

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