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

45 responses to “Meet Ruth Clagan by Julianne Holmes

  1. Barbara Hackel

    What an interesting topic for a cozy mystery! I am happy to learn about the new author and series. Thanks Dru! Thanks also Dru and Julianne for the chance to win a copy of JUST KILLING TIME. 🙂

  2. Thank you for introducing me to a new mystery series, and the cover is lovely. I am adding the book to my TBR list. Thank you for the giveaway.

  3. Thank you for the chance. Love the name of the cat too in the story. 🙂

  4. I subscribe to the “Wickeds” and so have been looking forward to this book…among others.

  5. Peggy Hyndman

    Thank you for introducing me to another new author. This series sounds one I’m going to enjoy reading … added to my TBR list. Thank you for the giveaway.

  6. I would love to find out who killed grandfather! Thanks for a chance to enter.

  7. Brian Frauenknecht

    Thank you Dru for introducing another great author and what looks to be another great series. I would love to win this. If not I am still going to purchase it. Can’t wait

  8. This sounds really good and had totally slipped under my radar. Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Mystery, murder and yoga – I look forward to reading it!

  10. Tried yoga one time at a meeting (the instructor was trying to drum up business). My bones don’t bend that way. Sounds like an interesting story. This would be a new one for me.

  11. Hi Dru Ann. Thanks for the information about this story. It sure sounds interesting and has been added to my to be read list. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of it.

  12. Doward Wilson

    Great post. I can’t wait to start this new series. Thanks for the chance to win.

  13. This book sounds so interesting, can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  14. I love the sound of the story.

  15. Grace Topping

    Congratulations, Julie. This is only the first of many.

  16. Nancy Roessner

    This series will be great! I love the premise of this book. Digital clocks are handy, but I’m firmly in the camp of old fashioned time pieces. I can’t wait to meet step-grandma.

  17. I love being introduced to new authors–thank you, Dru! This book sounds very interesting. Can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of Just Killing Time.

  18. This is a new-to-me author and the premise of a clock maker is very different. I will be adding it to my wish list. Thanks for the giveaway.

  19. elainehroberson

    Sounds like a series I would love to try. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  20. What a fascinating premise.

  21. Congratulations on your book! I love the Berkshires and the time/clock aspect is interesting so I have included Just Killing Time on my Goodreads “to read list”.

  22. Celia Fowler

    This book sounds like a great read — definitely going on my TBR list. Thanks for the giveaway, Dru!

  23. Thank you everyone! So thrilled that everyone gets to meet Ruth Clagan!

  24. Peggy Rancilio

    I had already put this on the to be read list. It sounds like a wonderful beginning to a new series. Looking forward to having a chance to read it.

  25. mary robinson

    This sounds like a great series. Would love to win this one. mThanks for this opportunity.

  26. Thanks for this captivating feature and giveaway.

  27. Mary Jane H.

    Sounds like a great new series!

  28. So fun to ‘meet’ Ruth! I am looking forward to this new series, thanks for the chance to win!

  29. Celest Mattis

    I can’t wait to read this one. It sounds like so much fun with a lot of twist and turns. Would love to win it, thanks for the opportunity.

  30. Looks like a fun new series. Thanks.

  31. Barbara Landrum

    Looks like a great book! Thanks Dru!

  32. This is a new author to me and that is always so exciting!!!! Looks like a really awesome book just from the cute cover with the kitty on it!!!! Looking forward to reading it!!!! Thanks for the chance to win it dearest Dru!!!! God bless!!!

  33. I like starting at the beginning. I hope to win this book so I can start this series.

  34. Oh yeah! This sounds like an amazing new series. I’ve never read a series set in a clock shop – I’m so excited to check this one out. Thank you for sharing, Dru!

  35. I have never tried yoga but I think I would be a yoga retreat failure too! Thanks for the giveaway.

  36. I love to read new cozy series….sign me up!!

  37. Sherilyn Leath

    Thanks for the opportunity – really like the clock shop idea…

  38. Count me in on a spanking-new series!!!!
    Thank you!!

  39. Now this one, I could really get in to…I found two antique clocks at a garage sale 4 yrs ago…both dating from the 1800s….one still works, the other needs to have it’s gears sleeved in gold to it can maintain time…thank you for this intro…

  40. New series – SCORE! I’ve read Julie’s blogposts on Wicked Cozy Authors. Looking forward to reading!

  41. It is an interesting plot.

  42. I have an antique clock sitting on top of my china cabinet—maybe it has a history or mystery, too. I’d love to read this book.

  43. Darlene Peterson

    Sounds like a good read. Thanks for the chance to win.

  44. Contest is closed.