Clock and Dagger
Clock Shop Mystery, Book #2
By Julianne Holmes
Author Website: jahennrikus.com
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…(Goodreads)
It was such a delight to read this second book in the Clock Shop Mystery series! I had enjoyed the first in series, and Clock and Dagger exceeded my expectations. Ruth Clagan, expert horologist (one who has studied the art / science of measuring time), has come a long way in the few short months she has lived in Orchard, Massachusetts and managed the clock shop that her grandfather left her, the Cog and Sprocket, started by her great-great grandfather.
While updating the clock shop and her living quarters upstairs at the shop, she lived with her grandfather’s widow, Caroline and the shop cat, Bezel. She has been preparing for the grand re-opening as well as some local events, and has hired two people. Mark specializes in working with watches, which Ruth has less experience with, and Nadia to prepare a website and work on various special projects. Nadia’s boyfriend Tuck did some photography and digital work for Ruth.
There are a couple people in Orchard who don’t want the other small businesses to prosper. One such is a relative newcomer, Beckett Green, who is opening his new bookstore. He now gives away coffee, and sells snacks and other treats, clocks and watches, all of which would cut into the livelihood of nearby shops, including Ruth’s. Even Ruth’s new hire, Mike, has been offered a job at Becket’s, which he turned down.
One of the big nights to the community has finally arrived, the open house for the various merchants who chose to participate. Mike didn’t appear at the shop as planned during the festivities. The open house was very successful if the amount of people going through each shop was any indication. When it was over, Ruth went to the hair salon belonging to Ben, who had let everyone stage the paper products and various food items, including the cake for Caroline’s surprise birthday party. The surprise was on Ruth, however, when she found the power off and tried to find her way through the salon. The cake was upended, overturned on the floor, and next to it was the murdered body of Mike.
The shock and sorrow the friends and co-workers of Mike expressed following the grisly find and beginning of the investigation was immense. Even as each shop owner tried to keep business as usual, suspicion and fear were present.
Caroline continued to do the books and payroll for the shop. A woman of many talents, Ruth was startled to learn another skill she can offer to the shop when necessary. Caroline was very quiet and didn’t tell much of her life before being married to Ruth’s grandfather, and Ruth respected that, not being open about much of her life before moving to Orchard, either. What Caroline revealed about her past could very well have caught up to her in the present. And that could just set her up to be murdered, also.
The author has given us mostly people who are likable, and even the minor roles are defined perfectly. While I feel I know Ruth better than before, I definitely know Caroline better than before and appreciate her reasons for being cautious. I like her even better for being open when it matters! She is definitely a stronger woman than I would have thought, also. The problem I had with the various characters was determining who the real bad guy/ gal might be, wanting to point a finger…which might have ended the novel too quickly!
This series grabbed my attention in the first book. I was captivated in the beginning with the thought of the workings and beauty of so many clocks, reminding me of a Black Forest clock shop in a small town back home. It is the various timepieces which are central to the plot in this novel.. The twists and turns must be what driving on snowy mountain roads is like – relief at a level spot, then stressed on slippery slopes! While much of the story is serious, there are spots of humor that show how living in a small town can be interesting at times. The mystery was definitely puzzling, especially when my ‘pet’ suspects were eliminated. While the resolution was not entirely a surprise as I had just a tiny suspicion, the situation was more frightening than I had anticipated, giving many tense, edge-of-the-seat moments when I simply had to stay awake longer to finish the novel. Clock and Dagger has a more than satisfactory resolution.
I highly recommend Clock and Dagger; it can be read before the first-in-series, but some nuances of family relationships might be better understood if reading them in order.