JUST KILLING TIME:
A Clock Shop Mystery
By Julianne Holmes
October 6, 2015, $7.99, paperback, 294 pages
By Julianne Holmes
My protagonist in the Clock Shop Mystery series, Ruth Clagan, comes from a family of clockmakers and has had years of training. The field of horology is like many other crafts or trades, apprenticeships last for a long time. Ruth has just turned thirty when we first meet her, and is figuring out the next steps in her career path. We meet her just after her grandfather has died, and left her his clock shop, the Cog & Sprocket.
I love doing research, so learning about clocks has been a wonderful opportunity. Like most things, the more I learn the less I know. As it happens, a friend of mine is married to a clockmaker. In fact he and his brother own and run the Clockfolk of New England shop. Meeting the Roberts brothers, and seeing their shop in action, was a tremendous gift. No mystery writer could do her work without experts. We do take their expertise, and add story to it, but it needs to be grounded in truth.
Everyone I know has a clock they love. Some are worth money, and passed on from generation to generation. Most have emotional resonance. I have a Seth Thomas style mantel clock that is electric. I suspect it wasn’t always electric—that someone decided to modernize it at some point. Now, with all I am learning, I am sorry about that. But the memory of that mantel clock in my grandparent’s living room brings such joy, and makes it talisman for happiness.
Clocks do more than capture time. They capture memories. Horologists, clockmakers, like Ruth Clagan fix clocks. Their power is greater than that, though. They mend memory keepers, think about the precision of timekeeping while honoring the magic of time itself. That skill set helps Ruth solve a crime that has upended her family, and get the town of Orchard working again.
What is your clock story? Or is it a watch story? I’m convinced every family has one, so please share it!