Authors: Julianne Holmes
“A fast-moving story, and a great start to an intriguing new series.”
New York Times
bestselling author of the Orchard Mysteries, the Museum Mysteries, and the County Cork Mysteries
“Perfect timing! In her charming debut, Julianne Holmes creates the perfect contemporary cozyâwith a smart and engaging heroine, a quirky and mysterious Berkshires town, and a cast of characters to rival any who live in Cabot Cove. Don't waste another minuteâthis is your new favorite series!”
âHank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark awardâwinning author of the Jane Ryland series
“The clock ticks ever faster in this delightful debut mysteryÂ .Â .Â . The story, with a hunky barber, Ruth's childhood friends, and conflicts between the new town manager and the âold' Orchard, winds up to a suspenseful and satisfying end.”
âEdith Maxwell, Agatha Awardânominated and national bestselling author of the Local Foods Mysteries
“Take one tightly wound plot, a charming clock shop in the Berkshires, a woman you want to be your best friend, and you have
Just Killing Time
. Don't waste any time, read this book.”
âSherry Harris, Agatha Awardânominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries
“With its bucolic setting, engaging characters, and clever plotting, Julianne Holmes has crafted a mystery to stand the test of time.”
âJessie Crockett, national bestselling author of the Sugar Grove Mysteries
“The Clock Shop Mystery series has zoomed to the top of my must-purchase-on-release-day list.
Just Killing Time
offers an intriguing premise, a fun mystery, and a town and heroine with heart.”
âBarbara Ross, author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries
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JUST KILLING TIME
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright Â© 2015 by Penguin Random House LLC.
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eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-16428-4
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / October 2015
Cover illustration by Cathy Gendron;
Â© by harlowbutler.
Cover design by Danielle Abbiate.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
To Paul and Cynthia Hennrikus. They passed on their love of mysteries. And they made me believe anything was possible. Thank you for being wonderful parents.
That you are holding this book in your hand is a dream come true. I'd like to thank two people who played a critical role in this effort, Allison Janice, my editor; and John Talbot, my agent. Thank you both for your support, your attention to detail, and your belief in me.
I would not be on this journey were it not for Sisters in Crime, especially the New England chapter. This wonderful organization has provided me mentors, friends, and a cheerleading section over the years. I am a proud board member. I am also a member of Mystery Writers of America, another wonderful organization for crime writers.
In 2013, Sherry Harris wrote to a few of us and asked about starting a blog. The Wicked Cozy Authors (wickedcozyauthors.com) were born. Being a part of this group has made such a difference in my life. All of these women forged the path I am now on and have been instrumental in helping me navigate it. Thank you to Jessie Crockett, Liz Mugavero, Barbara Ross, and Edith Maxwell for friendship and support. And a special thank-you to Sherry Harris for her editor's eye.
Thank you to Jason Allen-Forrest, my first reader. To Sergeant Patrick Towle of the Bedford Police Department. To David and James Roberts of the Clockfolk of New England. To Liz Bolton, for her guidance on real estate matters. To my blogmates at Live to Write/Write to Live (nhwn.wordpress.com): Lisa J. Jackson, Diane MacKinnon, Lee Laughlin, Jamie Wallace, Susan Nye, and Wendy Thomas. And to everyone else who gave me guidance and advice while I was working on this book. Your help was invaluable, and any mistakes are my own.
And finally, a huge thank-you to my friends and family. Where would I be without parents like Paul and Cindy Hennrikus? Sisters like Kristen Spence and Caroline Lentz? Brothers-in-law like Bryan Spence and Glenn Lentz? Nieces and nephews like Chase, Mallory, Harrison, Becca, Tori, Emma, and Evan? My amazing friends? I am one of the luckiest women in the world. None of this would be as much fun without all of you in my life.
he 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
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.”