Book Review: The Seventh Link by Margaret Mayhew

The Seventh LinkThe Seventh Link
A Village Mystery
Margaret Mayhew
Severn House, November 2014
ISBN 978-0-7278-8421-3

From the publisher—

The Colonel is pleased when his old friend Geoffrey Cheetham invites him up to the village of Buckby for the weekend, to coincide with a RAF reunion event. His fellow guests at the Cheethams’ B&B include a reunited Lancaster bomber crew. But the Colonel finds himself taking on the reluctant role of sleuth once more when tragedy strikes . . .

I love a gentle, English village traditional mystery and The Seventh Link satisfies my yearning quite nicely with some reservations. Yes, there’s murder  and other mayhem afoot but it’s all so genteel, so very British, and there’s no silliness as we so often see in American cozies. I do appreciate those cozies but my enjoyment of the British traditionals is just a smidgen more intense.

The pacing is very slow in this book mainly because of a great deal of narrative and description having to do with the lot of bomber crews in World War II and their treatment by their country during and after the war. I appreciate learning more about these crews and, although I was already aware of the tremendous dangers, I am glad to have a clearer understanding of who these men were (and, in rapidly decreasing numbers, still are). An especially appealing passage is an exchange between the Colonel and a “sprightly” older woman who had flown war planes, including the heavy Lancaster bombers, around the country but I did feel there was a bit too much re-telling of history overall. This is a mystery and it was pretty obvious who was going to be killed but the dead body doesn’t show up until well past the halfway point of the book, rather late in the day for most mystery readers.

After that, the sleuthing is all very cerebral, much as you would find in a Poirot mystery, and there’s no real finding of evidence and that sort of thing. I had it pretty much figured out early on but was completely surprised by the last few pages. So, did I love this book? Decidedly no. Will I read another in the series? Confoundedly yes and I can’t really tell you why other than I like the central characters and I want to know if the surprise at the end of this one happens in the other books. Oh, and I really enjoyed the relationship between the Colonel and a cat named Thursday 😉

Online information about Ms. Mayhew is limited and I can’t be sure I’m right about this but I believe these are the books in the series in order of publication—

Old Soldiers Never Die
Three Silent Things
Dry Bones
The Seventh Link

I did not feel at a disadvantage reading this fourth book first but I’m eager to go back and start at the beginning (if I can find the first one) to get more of the Colonel’s backstory and learn more about his home, the village of Frog’s End. In the meantime, I’m in the mood to go watch a good World War II movie 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2015.