Monday, November 21, 2016

Just Killing Time by Julianne Holmes

I may not always get around to reading a book the month I receive it, or, in this case, even the year I receive it. But, my sister picked a mystery out of my TBR pile last weekend, and, on her recommendation, I read it. She was right. Julianne Holmes' first Clock Shop Mystery, Just Killing Time, is terrific. There's no romantic triangle. The amateur sleuth does not set out to be a heroine. And, she isn't too stupid to live. I'm ready to read the second in the series, Clock and Dagger.

After Ruth Clagan's beloved grandmother died, she and her grandfather had a falling out. She hadn't seen him in five years, but she wrote to him after her divorce, asking him if she could come visit. She never has that chance. Instead, she hears from his lawyer, saying he had a heart attack while someone attacked him, and the police are viewing it as murder. Now, Ruth, who shares her grandfather's passion for clocks, has inherited the master craftsman's clock shop, the Cog & Sprocket. But, Orchard, Massachusetts isn't exactly the welcoming town Ruth remembers from her years visiting, and then living, with her grandparents.

It seems G.T., Grandpa Thom, was actively stirring up trouble in town. Or, to be more precise, he and a friend were fighting the town manager and the people who wanted to develop Orchard. Then, G.T.'s old friend died, leaving him to fight the battle. A few townspeople, including the new owner of the hair salon, were on G.T.'s side. And, the more Ruth pokes around in her grandfather's records, the more she's convinced the town problems might be the cause of G.T.'s murder.

Holmes does an excellent job introducing the small town to the reader. Ruth herself is an outsider, back after a lengthy absence, so we see the changes and the townspeople through her eyes. And, we see her grandfather through her eyes, and the eyes of a newcomer. He was an important figure in town, and, as his granddaughter, she never saw the activist side of him. Ruth learns a great deal about her estranged grandfather through the eyes of others. While she wants to find out who the killer is, to bring closure and peace for herself and her grandfather's widow, she isn't actively pounding the pavement, looking for a killer. She's using the clocks, her knowledge of them and the family records of clocks, to search for G.T.'s knowledge. And, the author doesn't portray Ruth as a stupid sleuth. In fact, at one point she admits to herself, "I was no hero. Let the police do their job."

It's easy to miss a new series and a new amateur sleuth. It's worth going back to pick up Julianne Holmes' Just Killing Time.

Julianne Holmes' website is, and she's one of the authors at

Just Killing Time by Julianne Holmes. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425275528 (paperback), 294p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I've noticed that you haven't had a "what are you reading?" post in a while.

I'd like to hear what everyone else is reading too. I just read Lee Child's Jack Reacher "prequel" NIGHT SCHOOL, and I must admit I was disappointed. Not that it was bad, but I expected it to be better, like his previous prequel, THE AFFAIR.

I'm also reading A WIDOW'S STORY: A Memoir, by Joyce Carol Oates, which is very good indeed.

Carol N Wong said...

I just finished listening to The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens and really loved it. Complex, bone chilling and like an old black and white movie classic to me.

Grace Koshida said...

Good idea! I also love hearing what everyone is reading. Since I am on vacation in San Francisco, I just finished Juliet Blackwell's Secondhand Spirits. And I am starting to read JL Abramo's Circling The Runway. I love Jake Diamond, and I saw that this book won the 2016 Shamus Award for best original PI paperback.

Lesa said...

Great idea, Jeff!

So, guess what will be up tomorrow. You'll have to read something else today, so you can answer the question. Thanks for the prompt. I needed that.

Grace Koshida said...

And thanks, Lesa, for the review of Julianne's first book. I met her at Bouchercon NOLA at the Wicked Cozy Authors gathering, and got a copy of her second book, Clock and Dagger on my towering TBR pile.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I liked the first two Allen Eskens books a lot, so the new one is a must-read for me.

Gram said...

I now keep a list of what I read and mark books that were really good. This book was one of my top three for that reading year. I have read the second in the series.

Anonymous said...

So glad you enjoyed it! Do you need the second in the series (back)?