The Seventh Link
Hugh (usually known as ‘the Colonel’) lives a genteel retired life in the village of Frog’s End with a curmudgeonly stray cat called Thursday for company. There are the usual busybodies, do-gooders and husband-hunters to be found in every village, but the Colonel treats them all with his own brand of cool perspicacity. Increasingly under pressure from his daughter-in-law to live closer to family, he is pleased to have an excuse to get away when an old friend invites him to stay at his B&B located near a disused World War II airfield and where a reunion of Royal Air Force flyers is planned. The other guests are six surviving members of a Lancaster bomber crew. With the unexpected arrival from Australia of the seventh member of the crew there are repercussions that will end in tragedy and the Colonel feels compelled to take up his role of sleuth.
While on the surface this novel has all the hallmarks of the ‘cosy crime genre’, it has its serious aspects in that it explores how the men of Bomber Command were treated in the closing years of the War, and for many decades afterwards, and also how certain bombing missions over Germany were conducted.
The Colonel has featured in a number of mystery novels by Margaret Mayhew and is a most appealing creation, especially for readers who will appreciate his old-fashioned characteristics and carefully-considered thought processes. The ending is surprising and not quite as cut and dried as might be expected. Recommended for anyone looking for a quick and satisfying whodunit.