Tag Archives: Julianne Holmes

A day in the life of Ruth Clagan by Julianne Holmes

When I moved back to Orchard, Massachusetts last fall, it was to run the Cog and Sprocket after my grandfather’s death. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure I’d run the shop since GT (Grandpa Thom) had married Caroline Adler shortly after my beloved grandmother’s death, and GT and I had fallen out over the marriage. I half expected to come back, close up, and move on.

But the Berkshires worked their magic on me. The minute I walked into the shop, and saw the inventory waiting to for a clockmaker to take care of it, I was sold. Add to that reconnecting with the Reed family, being fed at the Sleeping Latte, liking Caroline a great deal, and Ben the handsome barber next door, and how could I leave? With a lot of help I got the Cog and Sprocket refreshed so I could live there, and Bezel the shop cat let me move in.

The only thing that still haunted me? The Town Hall across the street. The Town Hall was not the hub of government in Orchard, though some town meetings were still held there. So was the Holiday Bazaar, Orchard Glee Club concerts, Girl Scout meetings, some classes, and a few other events. The building needed some sprucing up, but that was going to happen thanks to some budget wrangling. What wasn’t in the budget was refurbishing the old clock tower. That’s where I came in.

When I took over my grandfather’s shop, I started looking through his old notebooks, and realized he’d been obsessed with reopening the clock tower. His drawings reached out, and pulled me into his dream. I began to do some research, and found out that the dream wasn’t as farfetched as it first appeared. Over the years, my grandfather had been collecting the bits and pieces to do the replacement. I could have waited, I should probably have waited, until it made more sense to try and reopen the clock tower. But, as with all things clock related, making sense wasn’t really the point.

Clocks were partially about keeping time. But for clockmakers, they are about the craft of capturing time. Getting a clock tower up and running is a mechanical feat. It also requires a commitment to climbing the tower once a week, every week, winding it 350 revolutions, and making fine adjustments to ensure accuracy. So many folks had moved their clock towers to electric mechanisms because of the work required to maintain them. But where’s the fun in that? No, Clagans are clockmakers. The clock in the Town Hall was the largest clock in Orchard. How could I not honor my grandfather, and make this happen?

Now, I’m weeks away from reopening it. All I have to do is raise some more money, get the rest of the pieces manufactured, install the clock itself, get the bell in the tower, wind it, and hope it all works. All of that, plus dealing with any new hurdles the town manager, Kim Gray, throws at me. I’ve never been one to wish someone ill, but Kim sure isn’t making friends these days.

It would be a lot easier if she wasn’t around. . .


You can read more about Ruth in Chime and Punishment, the third book in the “Clock Shop” mystery series.

Expert clockmaker Ruth Clagan has another murder on her hands in the third Clock Shop Mystery from the author of Clock and Dagger.

Years ago, the serenity of picturesque Orchard, Massachusetts, was shattered by a fire that destroyed the town’s beloved clock tower. Ruth inherited the dream of repairing it from her late grandfather. Now that she’s returned home to run his clock shop, the Cog & Sprocket, she’s determined to make it happen, despite wrenches that are being thrown into the works by her least favorite person, town manager Kim Gray.

A crowd of residents and visitors are excited to see the progress of the tower at a fund-raiser for the campaign, until Kim is found crushed under the tower’s bell, putting an end to all the fun. The list of suspects is so long it could be read around the clock, and it includes some of Ruth’s nearest and dearest.

Time’s a-wastin’ as Ruth tries to solve another murder in her beloved Orchard while keeping the gears clicking on her dream project.

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About the author
Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. The first in the series, the Agatha nominated Just Killing Time, debuted in October 2015. Clock and Dagger was released in August 2016, and Chime and Punishment came out on August 1, 2017. As J.A. Hennrikus, her Theater Cop series will debut in the fall of 2017 with A Christmas Peril. She has short stories in three Level Best anthologies, Thin Ice, Dead Calm and Blood Moon. She is on the board of Sisters in Crime, and is a member of MWA and Sisters in Crime New England.

She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Killer Characters. Connect with Julianne at JHAuthors.com, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life with Moira Reed by Julianne Holmes

Clock and DaggerI’m looking forward to New Year’s Eve. I never thought that sentence would be tied to me, Moira Reed, but I’m not going to deny it. Last October, when Thom Clagan died, I didn’t think the words “Happy New Year” were possible, but that was before his granddaughter Ruth came back to town and took over the Cog & Sprocket. The Clagan family has been running the Cog for years, close to a hundred, here in Orchard. That’s a good run for anyone, but for clockmakers? Not what you’d expect to be the anchor business of Orchard, but it really is. The Clagans fix more than clocks, they always have.

Ruth used to visit her grandparents summers and holidays, and we were best friends as kids. We lost touch when she went to London to study time, and I went to college in New York City. Who would have guessed that we’d both end up living back in the Berkshires, running our own shops? Not me, that’s for sure. I couldn’t run the Sleeping Latte without the help of my mother, that’s for sure. Ruth would tell you the same thing. Not that my mother is helping her, expect maybe by feeding her a couple of meals a day and offering a ton of unasked for advice. No, Ruth couldn’t run the Cog without the help of her step-grandmother, Caroline. And my dad, Pat, of course. Ruth’s even hired a few more people—Nadia Wint, social media queen; Mark Pine, watchmaker; and Tuck Powers, hipster photographer. Not sure how’s she’s making it all work, but she is. The Cog & Sprocket has never looked as good—I can’t wait until the grand reopening January 2nd.

Lots happening between now and then, though. Orchard is party central this week. Tonight, all the downtown businesses are having an open house. Then a birthday party for Caroline, New Year’s Eve, and then the pièce de résistance, the grand reopening of the Cog & Sprocket. Ruth’s hosting all four parties, but she won’t be alone. Ben, the wicked cute barber will help her.

I never thought I’d say “I’m looking forward to New Year’s” and mean it. But this year, I do.

I mean, what could possibly go wrong?


Clock and Dagger is the second book in the Clock Shop mystery series, published by Penguin Random House, August 2016.

Expert clockmaker Ruth Clagan has another murder on her hands in the second Clock Shop Mystery from the author of Just Killing Time.

Ruth has three days to pull off four events—including the grand reopening of Cog & Sprocket, the clock shop she inherited from her grandfather—so she doesn’t have time for Beckett Green’s nonsense. The competitive owner of a new bookstore, Green seems determined to put other businesses out of business by also carrying their specialty items. He’s trying to steal Ruth’s new watchmaker, Mark Pine, not to mention block her plans to renovate the town clock tower.

Ruth is already all wound up when she’s alarmed to discover Mark’s dead body. As the denizens of Orchard each chime in as to who they think the murderer is, Ruth needs to watch her back as she investigates on her own. Despite the danger, Ruth won’t stop until the killer is behind bars and serving time. . .

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About the author
Julianne Holmes Julianne Holmes is a mystery writer. Her Clock Shop Mystery series debuted in October 2015 with Julianne HolmesJust Killing Time, which was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel . Clock and Dagger was released August 2, 2016. As J.A. (Julie) Hennrikus she has had short stories published in Level Best Books anthologies: “Her Wish” in Dead Calm, “Tag, You’re Dead” in Thin Ice, “The Pendulum Swings, Until It Doesn’t” in Blood Moon. She is a huge social media fan, and tweets under@JulieHennrikus. She is on Instagram as @jahenn, and her Facebook page. She wrestles with allusions of athleticism, is an avid theatre goer and a proud member of Red Sox nation. Her website is jahennrikus.com. Julie is a board member of Sisters in Crime and New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America and the Guppies.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Clock and Dagger. U.S. residents only, please. The giveaway will end August 11, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

Meet Ruth Clagan by Julianne Holmes

Just Killing TimeMy name is Ruth Clagan, and I am a yoga retreat failure. There, I said it. But it isn’t my fault. I had enjoyed the yoga, even though the appeal waned after day three, when my muscles started to rebel. At least the pain kept me from dwelling on my current predicament.

It had been bad enough I found out my husband was cheating, and he left me for a grad student. Such a cliche for a forty year old professor, and one that forced me to camp out in my friend’s guest room. But when the museum lost that grant, and my job got cut? No job and no husband added that certain something-something to my thirtieth birthday. The yoga retreat was supposed to take my mind off of things. I chalked up another hash in the loser side of the ledger.

I’d done a lot of thinking about where things had gone wrong in my life, and what I could do to right it. Separating my failures, and deciding what needed to change, was key. Men? I had sworn off them. My divorce papers were barely dry, and my heart was still broken. Or was it my pride? I wasn’t sure anymore.

But my job? The problem was, it wasn’t just a job. It was part of my DNA. I’m part of an horology dynasty that included my great-grandfather, my grandfather, and I. We’re all dedicated to the study of time, and the repair and creation of time pieces. The Clagan family was a clock family, through and through.

I’d spent summers and school vacations at the Cog & Sprocket, my grandfather’s shop in the Berkshires, learning from a great clockmaker, Thom Clagan. I called him G.T., short for Grandpa Thom. The advent of digital watches changed the horological world forever. For a while there was fear the field might die out, but the last few years had been good ones. I don’t know if it was the turn of the century, the steam punk movement, or just an appreciation for things that worked on their own, but my work had been fairly steady for the past six years. Steady, but not booming.

In metaphysical terms, I was obsessed with capturing, or at least displaying, time. My dream was to design timepieces, mostly on a large, impossible scale. I had a good reputation as a craftsman, but there aren’t a lot of fulltime job opportunities in my field. Not the kind that both fed my artist’s passion while also providing enough funds for me to move get my own apartment, preferably one with studio space. That was why the museum job had been perfect. But now funding for that job had been cut, and I had to figure out what to do.

A couple of days ago, while enduring the pain of a pigeon pose, I had another thought.

I could always call my grandfather.

Then I dismissed it.

My grandfather and I had been close, mostly because I had inherited his horological gene, which had skipped my father entirely. I’d been studying at the British Horological Society in London when my grandmother died, breaking both of our hearts. My grandfather forced me to go back to London right after the funeral, and finish my studies. I’d reluctantly agreed, thinking the time apart would be short. Then he got married a few months later, and the tie that bound us broke. I’d been angry that he replaced my grandmother so soon, and when I found out his new wife was fifteen years his junior, I blew a gasket. It was easy to have shouting matches on the phone from thousands of miles away. Hard to heal that distance even though we lived in the same state for the past five years.

Maybe it was time to rebuild that bridge.

Then I got the message that changed it all. “Ruth, this is Kristen Gauger. I’m a lawyer here in Orchard. Pat Reed has been trying to get hold of you. I have some bad news about your grandfather. And we need to speak, as soon as possible. Call me when you get this. No matter what time.”

That was the call that changed it all. G.T. hadn’t died a natural death. He’d been hit over the head when he was getting into his car, and died that same night. I was frustrated that with all my training, I couldn’t turn back time and save him. Instead, I could head to Orchard. Back to the Cog & Sprocket, where I’d left part of my heart six years ago. Time to make amends, face some ghosts, and find my grandfather’s killer.


You can read more about Ruth in Just Killing Time, the first book in the NEW “Clock Shop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.

About Just Killing Time

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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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on Tuesday, October 13 for your chance to win a print copy of Just Killing Time. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

Meet the author
Julianne Holmes is the author of Just Killing Time, the debut novel in the Clock Shop Mystery series and is the pseudonym for J. A. (Julie) Hennrikus, whose short stories have appeared in the award-winning Level Best Books. She serves on the boards of Sisters in Crime and Sisters in Crime New England, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America. She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. Visit Julianne at www.julianneholmes.com.