“The Lifeline” by Margaret Mayhew – Book Review

Frog End is a traditional, bucolic English village. Charming houses, a village green, and a population that is for the most part, no longer young. The young doctor of Frog End is a very caring and sympathetic man who seeks to aid his patients beyond his surgery hours. He and his wife live in the vast manor house in the village. A house she inherited from her family, and now shares with her husband and infant son. The husband and wife seem to collect the waifs and strays of the village, and by that I mean the doctor’s patients who need diversion. The deeply depressed recent widow, the young motorcycle victim who is paralyzed, the lonely golf widow, the elderly man who has suffered from a stroke and now feels useless… They persuade these people to work in the gardens of the manor. They feel that working outdoors, doing something productive, will be a ‘lifeline’ for them. Gardening is so therapeutic.

Colonel Hugh (our protagonist) is a relative newcomer to Frog End, but he has settled in well and now the locals have come to accept him as one of their own. The Colonel is a widower who lives alone in Pond Cottage with an elderly and cantankerous tom cat named Thursday. He is good friends with Ruth, the doctor’s wife, and also with his next-door neighbour, Naomi. Over the course of the previous titles in the series, the Colonel has proven his abilities as an amateur detective, solving the previous murders that have plagued the tiny village.

Readers who crave a traditional British village whodunit will be sure to love this series. With an idyllic Dorset village setting, myriad colourful characters, and no graphic scenes, this book and this series fall into the ‘cozy’ mystery category.

I confess, I have not read any of the previous books in the series and found that this, the sixth book in the series, worked well as a stand-alone. There was a soothing vibe to the book, despite the violent murder. The pace of the plot moved along well, and the characters, though many, were easy to distinguish.

This novel spoke to the fact that even the most charming of villages, even the most successful and seemingly innocuous people have the potential to have a dark underside.  Appearances can be very deceiving.

“You never knew the whole truth about other people’s marriages or what went on behind closed doors. It was a secret and usually very well kept.”

The reader cannot help but admire the aging Colonel Hugh. He is kind, intelligent and caring. I liked his cottage, his daily routines, his independence, and his affection for the old cat, Thursday.

The murder victim was an odious man who I felt little remorse for. I’ll admit that I did guess who the murderer was at about the 60% mark, but that did in no way mar my enjoyment of the remainder of the novel.

I highly recommend this cozy mystery to all fans of the genre. I am confident that those who enjoy Agatha Christie, Jacquline Winspear, Faith Martin and the like, will enjoy this series.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Severn House via NetGalley.

Published: June 2, 2020 Publisher: Severn House

ISBN: 9780727890429 – ASIN: B08NWBZ7XY – 182 pages

Margaret Mayhew was born in London and her earliest childhood memories were of the London Blitz. She began writing in her mid-thirties and had her first novel published in 1976.

She is married to American aviation author, Philip Kaplan, and lives in Gloucestershire.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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