Just Killing Time (A Clock Shop Mystery)

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9780425275528: Just Killing Time (A Clock Shop Mystery)

First in a new cozy series that ticks with excitement and mystery!

Ruth Clagan may be an expert clockmaker, but she’s always had a tendency to lose track of time. And when trying to solve a murder, every minute counts...

Ruth’s beloved grandfather instilled in her a love of timepieces. Unfortunately after her grandmother died and he remarried, Ruth and Grandpa Thom became estranged. She’s wanted to reconnect after her recent divorce, but sadly they’ve run out of time. Her grandfather has been found dead after a break-in at his shop—and the police believe he was murdered.

Now Ruth has been named the heir to Grandpa Thom’s clock shop, the Cog & Sprocket, in the small Berkshire town of Orchard, Massachusetts. As soon as she moves into the small apartment above the shop and begins tackling the heaps of unfinished work, Ruth finds herself trying to stay on the good side of Grandpa’s bossy gray cat, Bezel, while avoiding the step-grandmother she never wanted. But as old secrets and grudges start to surface, Ruth will have to kick into high gear to solve the killer case before someone else winds up dead...

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About the Author:

Julianne Holmes's short stories have appeared in the award-winning Level Best BooksJust Killing Time is the first in her new Clock Shop mystery series.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

acknowledgments

contents

chapter 1

The brochure lied. A week in the mountains of Vermont had not, in fact, helped me achieve a peaceful Zen that would pervade my life for the coming weeks, helping me approach old challenges with fresh energy. Instead it had made me aware of two things. First, much as I hated to admit it, I was addicted to technology. Not being allowed to have my cell phone for seven days was an interesting experiment at first, but an exercise in frustration toward the end. Never mind that the battery was completely drained of power by the time I got it back.

The second realization? Coffee and I couldn’t break up. I did wonder, briefly, if a week of no coffee had crushed the addiction. The green tea I’d drunk by the bucketful had enough caffeine to keep the headaches mostly at bay. And I knew that any addiction was a vice. But honestly, aside from the occasional glass of wine or beer, coffee was it. Coffee and baked goods. I walked into the first coffee shop I found on my way back to civilization. I ordered the French roast but hesitated before I ordered the scone. It looked dry and a little anemic. Not worth it, I decided. Maybe that was progress? I did grab a protein bar and filled up my water bottle at the water station in the store.

I took the coffee back out to the car and sat inside with the key turned and the windows cracked. I plugged in my phone, but it didn’t come back to life right away. I took a deep breath and looked out the window at the view. October was a stunning time to live in New England. The leaves were turning and the mountains were smeared with splashes of orange, red, yellow, and brown in between the deep green of the pines. The air was crisp, but not cold. Layers were necessary. The sky was a stunning crystal clear blue with white puffy clouds. Even I had to admit the scenery was beautiful. Especially with a cup of coffee. I closed my eyes and took a sip. Heaven.

I unwrapped the protein bar and grabbed my black bound notebook from my bag. I’d taken to carrying one notebook and using it as a combination journal, to-do list, sketchbook, and message pad. I took a bite of the protein bar, which tasted like chemicals. I should have tried the scone. I’d inherited the notebook habit from my grandfather, and he’d inherited it from his father. There were boxes of notebooks from all the Clagan clockmakers in my grandfather’s attic. Or at least the past four generations, since the first generation had emigrated from Europe.

I wondered if the notebooks were still there, or if G.T.’s wife had tossed them. What was her name, anyway? I honestly couldn’t remember. I’d nicknamed my grandfather G.T., Grandpa Thom, when I was a little girl, during one of my summer-long visits to my grandparents’ house in Orchard, Massachusetts. It wasn’t that he was ashamed of being my grandfather, my grandmother had explained. It was that Grandpa wasn’t professional in the shop. So G.T. it was. If that was the rule for working in the shop, I was more than happy to comply. Because my summer visits hadn’t just been a welcome reprieve from my parents’ benign neglect, they had been my introduction to clocks and time and how humans could work with both. G.T. was a master clockmaker, and he had passed on his passion, and some of his skill, to me.

I turned on my phone, which finally booted up. I checked the time and smiled. There was great accuracy to the clock on my cell phone, but little art. Time could be so much more. I flexed my shoulders back and mentally prepared myself to check my voice mail. I had been in a vulnerable place during a “Healing” workshop at my yoga retreat last week, and I’d sent G.T. a postcard asking him if I could stop by on my way back to Boston. My grandmother’s death six years ago had broken both of our hearts. G.T. and I had a falling-out when I brought my then husband (now ex) to meet him and they didn’t hit it off. The falling-out became a full-out rift when he called me a couple of months later to tell me he had gotten remarried. I’d sent him Christmas and birthday cards, and he’d sent them to me, but we hadn’t seen each other in five years. It was time to change that.

When the phone rang, I almost spilled my coffee. I didn’t recognize the number, but the 413 area code identified it as western Massachusetts. Maybe G.T. had a cell phone?

“Ruth Clagan here.” I sounded so officious, even to myself.

“Miss Clagan, this is Kristen Gauger. I’m a lawyer here in Marytown. And a friend of your grandfather’s. I’m afraid I have some very bad news.”

chapter 2

G.T. was dead. Kristen Gauger was not only G.T.’s friend and a lawyer, she was his lawyer. They’d found the postcard I sent him at his shop, the Cog & Sprocket, and had been trying to reach me all week. The reading of the will was today. Would I possibly be able to make it?

“Reading of the will?”

“There are some issues that need to be addressed in the next few days. We decided to do the reading this afternoon so we could start getting the will processed through probate. At one o’clock. Might you possibly make it?”

“What time is it now?” I looked down at my watch. “Eleven o’clock. I can try, but it will be tough. I’m up in Vermont.”

“We could reschedule, but there’s a preliminary meeting with the Board of Selectmen at three, and the contents of the will may have some impact on the meeting.”

“Really?” My grandfather had always been a concerned citizen. The Clagans were one of the oldest families in Orchard. But still, impacting a town meeting?

“Ruth, I’ll tell you what. Write down this address and come to my office when you get to town. We’ll delay as long as we can.” She gave me her address in Marytown, which I wrote down in a shaky scrawl and then programmed into my GPS.

“I’ve got it,” I said. “I’ll be there as soon as possible. I don’t even, I mean, wow, this is starting to sink in. What happened? Had G.T. been sick? We’ve been out of touch. I’d hate to think I wasn’t there to say good-bye.” There was a long pause on the phone. For a second, I thought we’d been disconnected.

“Oh, Ruth, there’s no easy way to say this. I’d rather tell you in person, but you should hear it from me. They think that Thom died of a heart attack. But he was being robbed at the time. The police are treating it as a murder.”

·   ·   ·

I was riding an emotional roller coaster as I drove toward Orchard. Sadness and grief overwhelmed me. The ride down took almost five hours. Tears caused some of the delays. And there were a couple of times when I just needed to pull over and scream, trying to get rid of some of the emotions. Anger that I’d been robbed of the chance to see G.T. once more. Guilt that we’d been estranged. Overwhelming sadness. And a slow burn building up inside me. Screaming in the car had been very cathartic for me over the past year as I tried to move past my divorce, and it helped this time as well. A little. Not enough. But some.

Even under the best of circumstances, chances were good I would have been late. I could build timepieces, but I couldn’t keep time. An irony in my life—one of many.

But seeing the Berkshires again brought forth a flood of happy memories as I recognized old stomping grounds. I felt some pride in seeing how spruced up Main Street was. Of course, Main Street was always the center of attention, since it was in Marytown, the closest thing to a city in these parts. Six years ago I’d driven away from a region full of hardworking people trying to figure it all out. Some new businesses had brought economic vibrancy back, but the town was still a pale imitation of what it had once been, at least according to my grandparents. But now? Storefronts were open. The street itself was newly paved, with freshly painted lines. Streetlights had been replaced by gas lanterns. Marytown looked good. I wondered if Orchard had fared as well.

Had the town finally come into its own? After the last great flood wiped the town out in the 1920s, the townspeople of Orchard worked hard to bring the apple orchards back and to embrace the possibilities of the future, but true prosperity always passed the small town by. I used to refer to Orchard as the town that almost was. Almost was the site of a railroad station, until another community won the bid. Almost saw a new mill built after the flood, but the aforementioned railroad station took that off the table. Almost was the site of a huge private college in the early 1900s, but that honor also went to another town, five miles south.

Maybe Orchard’s luck had changed, even if G.T.’s hadn’t.

·   ·   ·

Kristen Gauger had directed me to the offices of Gauger, Spence, Colfer, and Lentz in Marytown. A lot of names for a tiny office that consisted of two desks, three chairs, and a couch.

“Ruth? I’m Kristen Gauger.” She walked around her desk and held out her hand. I shook it and walked toward the desk. Kristen Gauger was shorter than I was, but the high heels she’d kicked off would have made us eye to eye. She had brown hair streaked with gray and pulled back into a ponytail. Her makeup was a little smudged and there were dark circles under her brown eyes. Her shirt was untucked from her suit skirt.

“Let’s sit over here.” She motioned me toward the couch. “Can I get you anything? You sure? Well, sit down while I pull the file. Forgive the office clutter. A bunch of us share the space. We have ‘offices’ all over the Berkshires, but most of them involve our dining room tables and home visits with clients. You made decent time getting here.”

“Not good enough. I missed the reading. And I must have missed the funeral,” I said. I sounded pitiful, but she didn’t seem to notice.

“There hasn’t been a funeral. Thom didn’t want one, according to his will. Caroline would still like to have a service, but wanted to talk to you.”

That was her name, Caroline. G.T’s wife.

“Your folks already told Caroline they aren’t planning on coming back,” she continued.

I’d long ago given up making excuses for my world-traveling parents, and so I didn’t respond. We e-mailed and talked on occasion, but I hadn’t seen them in a couple of years. Again, Kristen didn’t respond to my silence, but instead moved on.

“I’m sorry you had to hear the news from me that way. But I know you have a few voice mails and I thought you should hear it from a human being.”

“Thank you, I barely listened to my messages. I just wanted to get here.”

“Well, you should know, he didn’t suffer. He got hit in the head and then he had a heart attack. It was pretty quick.”

“Where was he?”

“Out in back of the shop, getting into his car. There had been a robbery a couple of weeks before, and the police are assuming that the robbers came back for a second round and ran into Thom.”

“A robbery? What did they steal?”

“The first time? Five clocks. I don’t have the descriptions handy, but Caroline says they were worth about a thousand dollars each.”

“Wow. What was he doing with that kind of inventory?”

“He had bought out a couple of estate sales recently. Including the Winters’ house. Do you remember Grover Winter? He passed three months ago, and his son, Jonah, has been selling off the estate. Apparently he and his late wife were clock fanatics.”

“I remember him. Wasn’t his nickname the Chairman?”

Kristen nodded.

“I don’t remember her that well.”

“Harriet,” Kristen supplied. “She passed last fall. She’d been sick for a long while. But the Chairman, his death took everyone by surprise. Anyway, Thom has a full shop.”

“He always did,” I said, sadness overwhelming me.

My life with my grandparents had been filled with clocks. Both real and imagined. We used to spend hours designing clocks that would do all sorts of things. And dream of building them together once I finished my education. I thought about the drawings I’d made while I was on retreat and realized I’d give anything to show them to my grandfather and talk to him about what I’d been working on lately. But that was never going to happen.

Kristen handed me a box of tissues, and I wiped my eyes.

“He’d actually cut back on the inventory last winter, but then he bought a couple of estates of collectors lately. He called them his swan song before retirement. Not sure if it helps or not, but he was making noise about offering to let you buy him out. I offered to help him find you, but he wanted to get things cleaned up first. His words, not mine.”

“I’m not sure if that helps or not either. Makes me sadder.”

“Well, then, this isn’t going to help at all.” She handed me a thick envelope. “His will was pretty straightforward. Caroline gets the house and everything in it. You get the Cog & Sprocket and everything in it. According to the will, you need to come to terms regarding the contents of the workshop at the house. There are some other bequests, but they can be taken care of easily. Right now his estate is tied up in inventory, so there isn’t any cash to speak of. But he owned the shop; taxes are paid. If you want to sell, it should get a fair amount.”

“The shop? I don’t know what to say.”

“Well, I have a couple of things to say. First, you should know that Jeff Paisley—he’s the chief of police in Orchard—he’s working on this case morning, noon, and night. Second, Caroline Adler has an alibi, just in case you were wondering. She was also in Vermont, visiting her son.”

Again, I didn’t respond directly. “Anything else?”

Kristen shook her head slightly and smiled. “You remind me of your grandfather. There are a couple of codicils to the will. Not binding, but Thom’s wishes. He made Caroline promise to give you first dibs if and when she sells the house. And he asked that you consider keeping Caroline and Pat Reed on in the shop, if you chose to run it. She’s been helping Thom run it for the past few years, keeping the books. And Pat has been working there part-time for a while.”

“Forever. When I was young I never understood what Pat did. G.T. called him a handyman and the most important part of the operation.”

“Pat and Nancy Reed are part of the backbone of Orchard. They helped see the town through some hard times. Now that things are turning around, I hope they benefit. But times are still tough for a lot of folks. Your grandfather kept Pat on the payroll even when he was slowing down. Pat’s taking his death very hard.”

“I haven’t seen Pat in a while, since my grandmother’s funeral.”

“Well, he’s looking forward to seeing you. Ruth, I know you are processing a lot right now, and I don’t want to overwhelm you. But there’s a lot going on in Orchard, mostly having to do with rezoning the historic district.”

“Historic district?” I couldn’t help but smile. “Since when does Orchard have a historic district?”

“Since the new town administrator decided to make Orchard a Berkshires destination town. The Cog & Sprocket is central to the district in more ways than one. Anyway, I know you’re going to have questions, so take this packet with you and go through it when you have a moment. I put all my contact information on the envelope. C...

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Holmes, Julianne
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Descrizione libro Berkley Prime Crime, New York, 2015. Soft cover. Condizione libro: New. No Jacket. 1st Edition. First edition first printing of the first novel in the Clock Shop series. In fine unread condition. Codice libro della libreria 19477

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2017. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. First in a new cozy series that ticks with excitement and mystery! Ruth Clagan may be an expert clockmaker, but she s always had a tendency to lose track of time. And when trying to solve a murder, every minute counts Ruth s beloved grandfather instilled in her a love of timepieces. Unfortunately after her grandmother died and he remarried, Ruth and Grandpa Thom became estranged. She s wanted to reconnect after her recent divorce, but sadly they ve run out of time. Her grandfather has been found dead after a break-in at his shop and the police believe he was murdered. Now Ruth has been named the heir to Grandpa Thom s clock shop, the Cog Sprocket, in the small Berkshire town of Orchard, Massachusetts. As soon as she moves into the small apartment above the shop and begins tackling the heaps of unfinished work, Ruth finds herself trying to stay on the good side of Grandpa s bossy gray cat, Bezel, while avoiding the step-grandmother she never wanted. But as old secrets and grudges start to surface, Ruth will have to kick into high gear to solve the killer case before someone else winds up dead. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780425275528

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2017. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. First in a new cozy series that ticks with excitement and mystery! Ruth Clagan may be an expert clockmaker, but she s always had a tendency to lose track of time. And when trying to solve a murder, every minute counts Ruth s beloved grandfather instilled in her a love of timepieces. Unfortunately after her grandmother died and he remarried, Ruth and Grandpa Thom became estranged. She s wanted to reconnect after her recent divorce, but sadly they ve run out of time. Her grandfather has been found dead after a break-in at his shop and the police believe he was murdered. Now Ruth has been named the heir to Grandpa Thom s clock shop, the Cog Sprocket, in the small Berkshire town of Orchard, Massachusetts. As soon as she moves into the small apartment above the shop and begins tackling the heaps of unfinished work, Ruth finds herself trying to stay on the good side of Grandpa s bossy gray cat, Bezel, while avoiding the step-grandmother she never wanted. But as old secrets and grudges start to surface, Ruth will have to kick into high gear to solve the killer case before someone else winds up dead. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780425275528

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2017. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. First in a new cozy series that ticks with excitement and mystery! Ruth Clagan may be an expert clockmaker, but she s always had a tendency to lose track of time. And when trying to solve a murder, every minute counts Ruth s beloved grandfather instilled in her a love of timepieces. Unfortunately after her grandmother died and he remarried, Ruth and Grandpa Thom became estranged. She s wanted to reconnect after her recent divorce, but sadly they ve run out of time. Her grandfather has been found dead after a break-in at his shop and the police believe he was murdered. Now Ruth has been named the heir to Grandpa Thom s clock shop, the Cog Sprocket, in the small Berkshire town of Orchard, Massachusetts. As soon as she moves into the small apartment above the shop and begins tackling the heaps of unfinished work, Ruth finds herself trying to stay on the good side of Grandpa s bossy gray cat, Bezel, while avoiding the step-grandmother she never wanted. But as old secrets and grudges start to surface, Ruth will have to kick into high gear to solve the killer case before someone else winds up dead. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780425275528

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