The Seventh Link by Margaret Mayhew

the seventh link“Strike hard, strike sure”

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Retired Colonel Hugh (second name annoyingly never given) lives in a cottage in the English village of Frog End. A widower, he lives alone except for Thursday, a cat which has adopted him, but he’s on friendly terms with his neighbours, especially Naomi from next door, who pops round most evenings for a drink. Apparently this book is part of a series about Hugh and I get the impression his village and neighbours feature more prominently in the earlier books. In this one, however, Hugh has been invited to stay with old friends who now run a Bed and Breakfast in Buckby, near an old RAF Bomber Command station. While he is there, there is to be a reunion of members of the Bomber crews, some of whom will also be staying at the B&B. At first everything goes well, but when a tragic death occurs, Hugh can’t help wondering if it wasn’t as accidental as the police seem to think…

Lancaster Bomber
Lancaster Bomber

This falls firmly into the category of ‘cosy’, situated in the type of English village that really only exists in the pages of Agatha Christie or in episodes of Midsomer Murders. It’s well written and the character of Hugh is rounded and sympathetic, and his conversations with his inquisitive but helpful neighbour Naomi give us the opportunity to get to know more about him and about life in the village.

In a note at the beginning, the author reminds readers that the crews of Bomber Command were somewhat forgotten after the war, and it’s only recently that a memorial has been erected to them. A good deal of this book is given over to filling in some of the history of this part of the war effort, told mainly through the reminiscences of the crew members. In fact, that aspect really crowds out the mystery element to a large degree – it felt that Mayhew’s real intent was to pay tribute to the bombers.

The unveiling of the memorial to RAF Bomber Command in Green Park, London
The unveiling of the memorial to RAF Bomber Command in Green Park, London

While I enjoyed the book overall, I had a feeling of time displacement all the way through. If the action is taking place in the near-present, which it seems to be from some of the references, that would mean that the youngest of these veterans would have to be in his mid-eighties, and they seemed an exceptionally sprightly bunch of octogenarians to me. The Colonel himself is described as having served in ‘post-war Colonial Singapore’ and yet he doesn’t come over as old enough for that either. I felt the book would have worked better if it had been clearly set in the 1990s. However, that aside, the war element of the book felt well-researched and as if it gave an accurate picture of what life may have been like for the Bomber crews. For my taste, the book was too heavily weighted towards the historical aspect at the expense of creating a good mystery plot, but overall I found it an entertaining read nonetheless.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Severn House.

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24 thoughts on “The Seventh Link by Margaret Mayhew

  1. *maybe laughs at the word ‘octogenarians’*

    The RAF! You know, this professor should have been a Spitfire pilot, truly. Did I ever tell you how much I love that plane?

    I must say it is sorta funny that the characters are rather old…how old is Naomi?

  2. FictionFan – Hmmmm…that displacement in time sounds a bit odd. But I do like the fact that the history part is well-researched. And sometimes it’s fun to let go and enjoy those mythical English villages. Glad you thought there was a lot to like in this one.

    • Yes, I think all her books have a war connection going by the titles. But I’m afraid the war is so long ago now that it doesn’t really ring true. But the stuff about Bomber Command was very interesting…

  3. Ooh, a cosy! A much more attractive prospect than the mad serial (or cereal killer as I saw in a recent review in an otherwise reputable newspaper) killers that seem to be most current authors’ preference.

  4. I do like the sound of this exceptionally sprightly bunch of octogenarians 😉 isn’t it odd how the English village in these cosy mysteries are all so similar despite having never existed in real life? There is something incredibly comforting
    about them though.

    • I know – I’ve always wanted to live in one. Especially in Midsomer, where the sun always shines and there’s a village fair every weekend. Shame about the high death rate, of course…

      • Definitely! my daughter is a big John Nettles fan which started because of Bergerac, which aired before she was even born, but a good game is to spot where he drives around a corner and ends up at the other end of the island! This obsession soon embraced Midsomer too.

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