Cover Image: A Clock Stopped Dead

A Clock Stopped Dead

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Member Reviews

Thank you NetGalley for a copy. The plot sounded really interesting as I am a teacher but I struggled with the plot. The beginning hooks you in with a mysterious shop that appears one foggy night but vanishes the next. 3 friends try to discover if their friend Maggie is crazy or not. I wanted to love it but there was a lot of dialogue with the three woman with significant others/children. It felt like it didn't advance the plot and I sadly didn't finish. I wanted to love this book but for me personally, I needed a bit more action. I also know this is the third book and maybe having more background would be helpful so I will definitely read the first and learn the style of the author.

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This is the third book with the same main characters but can be read on its own.

Thelma, Pat and Liz are friends who all used to work together at a school and meet every week in a garden centre cafe to catch up and set the world to rights.

One of their friends tells them a story of how she visited a very strange charity shop on a foggy day. They visit it the next day and it is not there and in the same alleyway a woman dies after driving out of the alleyway at high speed and crashes into a car on the main road. The friends decide to investigate. Add to the mix, family problems, a village play, friendships and ghost stories.

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A disappearing charity shop is the scene of a tragic car accident one foggy January evening. Pat, Thelma and Liz investigate the spooky goings-on and encounter events which put their friendship to the test.

A Clock Stopped Dead by J. M. Hall is the third book in a series featuring retired primary school teachers Pat, Thelma and Liz, and is set in North Yorkshire. The book sits well in the cosy crime genre and can easily be read as a standalone novel, however, reading the previous two books will give you an insight into a few of the characters mentioned in this book.

The story has a supernatural element right from the beginning and this thread is continued throughout the book. Marguerite, an ex-colleague of the investigative trio, wanders down an isolated country lane and stumbles across a mysterious charity shop. Upon entering the shop she feels that something isn't quite right, and when a strange apparition appears she bolts. Returning the next day Marguerite finds only a piece of waste ground, the charity shop has disappeared.

Hearing about the eerie event Pat, Thelma and Liz are sceptical until they learn that a woman was killed in a car accident in the same spot at the same time. The trio begin to wonder if there is something to their friend's story and begin to investigate.

The investigation leads to a troubled family and a house that seems to be frozen in time. Pat in particular is affected by the house, she has a sense of deja vu, and this maintains the ghostly theme.

Strong feelings about whether they should be supporting Marguerite's belief that mysterious forces are at play causes a rift in the trio. The rift is widened as they go off in separate directions investigating and Pat makes a new friend, Jamie. I did like Jamie, although he was stereotypical, as he allowed us to see a different side to Pat.

Set around North Yorkshire means that the places mentioned are familiar and I felt as if I was with the trio when places were visited. What really endears me to the books though are the characters. I love how Pat, Thelma and Liz use their skills developed as primary school teachers to help them solve crimes; organised, teacher stares, using silence as an interrogation technique and knowing when someone, even an adult, is lying.

All the different threads come together in the conclusion. What had happened and why were not a surprise but I certainly hadn't figured out how and who.

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A Clock Stopped Dead is the third instalment of the adventures of retired teachers and part-time sleuths Liz, Pat and Thelma.
When Marguerite, a somewhat scatty friend of the trio, tells them about an odd & somewhat scary experience that she had, they are intrigued. On a foggy night, she stumbled across a strange charity shop, but when she tried to find it again the following day, it had disappeared. Not closed, but completely disappeared. After telling the friends about the experience, Marguarite wonders if it was a psychic experience, and pursues this thought but when the trio visit the spot, they are convinced that there is something more to this story. This thought is compounded when a woman dies in a car accident at the same spot, and they can’t help but wonder if the 2 incidents are connected.
Over coffee and cake at the garden centre café, the three friends start to piece together snippets of information that they come across. Initially they seem to be bumbling along, making little progress with the investigation & domestic issues such as grown up children with marital issues taking much of their time, but things somehow start to fall into place.
The friendship between the women and the way they bring their own strengths and experiences to the puzzle is key to this series’ success. The characters are all quite different with a good depth to them & they are rounded enough that you can believe that they really exist.
The storyline itself is original but a little odd! It rambles slightly in the middle with side-stories but it does draw the reader in & make you want to find out what happens.

As a series, this is unusual – the first book is a murder, the second one involved poison pen letters and this one is solving a puzzle.

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A mystery to keep the reader hooked!

Pat, Liz and Thelma regularly meet for coffee at the garden centre; they like nothing more than a good puzzle to work the little grey cells so when they hear of a friend who had a strange experience in a bit of a creepy charity shop, they decide to investigate - only now the charity shop has vanished. What is going on?

I loved the characters in this one; they may be ex-teachers but old habits die hard! How does a shop just vanish? That's the big question. Now, while I enjoy a really enigmatic mystery I like things to be plausible .. I'm not really a fan of fantasy or magic realism and I felt this one wandered into that. However, that's my personal preferences and it doesn't take away from the fact this this is a very well-written, well-planned novel which, I'm sure, other mystery fans will love more than me. However, for me, it's four stars.

My thanks to the publisher for my copy via NetGalley; this is - as always - my honest, original and unbiased review.

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The third instalment of the retired teachers and part time sleuths, not quite up there with the first 2 but still an enjoyable read with the 3 amateur sleuths

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Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for an early review copy.

I enjoyed reading this cozy murder mystery,

The three main characters were lovely with different personalities, when they didn’t agree on something, they stopped communicating with each other.

The storyline was well written.

I recommend this book.

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Another great book in this series and always love spending more time with Thelma, Louise and Pat who are my favourite part of every story. Don't get me wrong I love the crimes and mysteries but the women trying to solve them are the best! We get to spend a lot of time with the women as well and really get a full idea of who they are their families and it fits so nicely into the mysteries being told.
I think this mystery may have been my favourite with the little paranormal aspect of it but again the best part was seeing how each of the women acted when faced with this and how it all shook out. Also the plot seemed to make more sense than the last one. The supporting characters also helped make this book but I wish more of the supporting characters made reappearances like in the school which none of them went to in this one but was such a big part of the last one. However I do enjoy meeting more of the characters in Thirsk so enjoyable regardless.
Thelma has been my favourite since the start and this book made me doubt that and then reminded me why she was my favourite all over again.
Anyway I need to go find the nearest garden centre with a café now and wait for the next book!

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This is the third outing of JM Hall's retired teacher sleuths, Pat, Thelma and Liz. As with all 'cosy crime' amateur sleuths, there's an issue with how plausible it is that ordinary people could be incidentally involved in so many crimes - although to give him credit, Hall has tried to find different types of crime and scenarios where it's at least slightly believable that three ordinary retirees might get peripherally involved. Nevertheless, whilst 'A Clock Stopped Dead' is a harmless enough book, I think he'd be better off finding a new set of characters for his next novel.

The story is convoluted and full of coincidence. Another retired colleague of our trio has a bizarre experience on a foggy night when she wanders into what appears to be ghostly charity shop. The next day, the shop has gone, and there has been a fatal car accident on the same road. Naturally, the three women start investigating and generally sticking their noses in for reasons that don't really make sense to me given they didn't know the dead woman - my conclusion is that they don't have enough to do and perhaps shouldn't have retired so early.

It's a mildly interesting plot with a few twists and turns but there's nothing to really excite the reader here. I don't care much about the characters - they are likeable enough, but bland. Even after reading three novels about them I still get Pat and Liz mixed up, and their dull domestic dramas are hardly the stuff of exciting literature. It's also hard to feel huge sympathy for these women with their decent partners, comfortable financial situations, good health and no need to work. The days when older people retire in their fifties and can afford to gad about interfering in things that don't concern them are fast coming to an end. Yes they have their problems but really it's very hard to get too bothered about Pat's son (or was it Liz's) having an argument with his boyfriend that will clearly all be happily resolved by the end of the book anyway.

If you love cosy crime and only read books in this genre, then you might like to read 'A Clock Stopped Dead'. It's not a bad book. If you only want to read the absolute best of the genre and fit in other things, this isn't a strong enough novel to make that list. The first in the series, 'A Spoonful of Murder' was charming and had some originality and a strong plot around the exploitation of older people and those with dementia. It demonstrates Hall can write well and come up with novels that do reach the top end of this busy genre. I don't think I'd read a fourth book featuring these characters, but I would consider something different by him.

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Who can resist a piece of cake and a good cup of coffee? Certainly not, Pat, Liz, and Thelma. What’s even harder to resist he’s trying to find out more about the Charity shop that a friend tells them about. When they can’t find the shop, things got even more interesting. Will they be able to figure it out, or someone willing to kill to keep a secret?

This is a great mix of mystery, mayhem, and comedy. It makes me want to join the ladies at the café join them in future adventures. I guess I’ll have to settle for reading the books, yet even that is a great escape with friends.

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I really tried to like this book but I absolutely could not. The writing style, the grammatical errors, and the fact that it dragged on had me dreading picking up my Kindle. Every time I read another page of this book, I kept reminding myself that life is too short to read terrible books and because of that, I did not finish.

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A Clock Stopped Dead by JM Hall is a contemporary cosy mystery that follows the sleuthing adventures (and misadventures) of three retired teachers, Pat, Thelma and Liz.

There are many elements that made me chuckle, such as the Thirsk Garden Centre Cafe (Thirsk is about an hour down the A19 from me and is a very nice little town so it was easy to visualise a lot of locations in the book. But in the same vein, this also shows how well Hall describes the scenes, because they illustrate the area beautifully) So already plus points for the location!

The characters were likable and well defined with very distinct personalities and each brings a unique perspective to reflecting on the events and clues before them.

The plot is elegantly woven and interspersed well with the narrative of with these three very relatable lead characters.

An enjoyable quick read, very well written

Thank you to Netgalley, Avon Books UK and JM Hall for this delightful ARC. My review is left voluntarily and all opinions are my own

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Three former teachers solve the mystery of a disappearing charity shop in Northern England. Pat, Liz, and Thelma are three retired teachers wrestling with age, family, and future when a former colleague breezes into their lives with an outlandish tale of wandering into an odd charity shop one foggy night and having her wits scared out of her by shadowy figures, ticking clocks, and disembodied voices. When she returns the next day, the shop is no longer there. Was it, as she would like to believe, some sort of psychic vision? Or is there a more terrestrial explanation? The three ladies pick apart the odd happenings, taking them on ghost tours, on home viewings, and to amateur dramatics before they crack the case.

--SPOILER ALERT! Proceed with caution!--
Sure, the cozy mystery genre has been down this road before (perhaps not exactly, but it's not that far off the beaten track), but there was something refreshingly different about this one: there is no overblown ending with perilous confrontations or tearful confessions. The ending is actually rather pedestrian. There isn't even an arrest! And not because no one has done anything wrong. Of COURSE there was wrongdoing involved, but it was all quite... well, not normal, but also not the traditional outlandish hijinks that make you wonder what they're putting in the English water these days. In a way, that lack of uproar and official closure is genre-defying, and I am here for it. Life isn't tidy. The bad people don't always get their comeuppance. And most of the time, the bad people aren't bad through and through. They're otherwise good people who make bad decisions, many times for understandable reasons. That's what this book reflects, the messiness of human existence. Ok, so there are still contrived situations, and yes, there are times when you want to scream at the main characters for how slowly their inner monologue catches up with reality (seriously!? You didn't consider for a MOMENT that your husband is dragging his feet about the job offer because he doesn't WANT it?!). But ultimately, that's not the taste that's left in your mouth. In the end, the final sentiment is one of acceptance--of life's bumps and turns, of unresolved issues--and relief--that at least your own messes seem relatively underwhelming in comparison.

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I couldn't wait to start A Clock Stopped Dead, the next installment featuring retired teachers Pat, Thelma and Liz. Their good friend Marguerite tells them about an encounter she's had in a spooky charity shop. But when the ladies go to investigate, the shop is not there. Did Marguerite imagine things or is there something more sinister going on? Things take a turn for the worse when a young woman is killed in a car accident nearby. Is this linked or just an unhappy coincidence?

A Clock Stopped Dead is an enjoyable cosy crime read, with a good mix of the characters' own lives alongside the crime solving. At times (mostly late at night) I did get a little lost between the three main ladies, but it didn't distract from the main storyline.

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Another intriguing mystery from the Thirsk gang, this time with some amateur theatrical antics thrown in – which obviously I enjoyed! There’s a real Jonathan Creek air to this mystery and how it was pulled off – it had me guessing all the way through.

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I just couldn't follow or get into this story. The chapters moved from one person to the next and there were so many things that really had nothing to do with the story. At end I really didn't care who did what to who.

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Adorable cover but a story that never hooked me in.

This one might have suffered from me not having read book 1 or 2 but I typically find that cozy mysteries stand well on their own - because the mystery typically starts and ends in one book. But this one just did not work for me.

First, I couldn't keep track of narrators. It would change often (mid chapter, mid page, mid paragraph), each character voice sounded the same - typically the only way to tell who was who was by their kids. And WOW! The added cast of the kids and their partners and/or exes. For me, it overwhelmed the story with drama and characters I never felt connected to and was frustrated when their emotions would overwhelm the page and stop the mystery.

The fact that, at almost 90%, we're still left wondering what was going on - it was just too long and didn't hold my attention right from the get-go. I wish I'd like this one but it just didn't work for me.

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A really great mystery with some really intriguing twist and turns. I’m really glad I got a chance to read this.

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This, apparently is the third instalment in a series involving amateur sleuths. It didn’t however take long to get acquainted with the background so could be read as a standalone.
Liz, Pat and Thelma are all retired teachers who like to solve crimes. One day, Marguerite, their totally scatty friend, comes to them all in a dither, telling them she has either had an out-of-body or psychic episode. She got lost in thick fog in a part of town she did not know that well and found herself going into a strange charity shop where she could not find anyone to help, but the clock had stopped. Finding her way out, she vows to return the next day. When she does, there is no sign of said shop, just some derelict buildings. Our three sleuths, sensing a mystery, go to the area themselves, but are thwarted in investigating as a fatal car crash has occurred in the same area as the supposed shop. The victim, recently widowed, was known for being a safe and careful driver. Does her death have anything to do with the existence or otherwise of the charity shop?
This starts as a very original premise. Sadly, the momentum is not carried out throughout the book. Each new point is laboured over again and again to the point of tedium. The book could easily be a third less in length. The plot line from its promising beginning, turns out to be so basic it’s virtually banal. Then there is not so much a big reveal, but a mere whimper at the end. It is extremely disappointing.
I did like Liz, Pat and Thelma and the warm and witty relationship between them. The trope of 60-something eccentrics solving crime is becoming more than a little saturated in the cosy market, but something is endearing about them. If only the author had taken the time to actually construct a mystery with a little depth, then that would have been a much better read.
My thanks to NetGalley, Avon Books and J M Hall for the appreciated ARC in exchange for an open and honest review.

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A cozy mystery featuring three retirees. This is the third in the series, which I wish would've been made clear by either a series call-out or a numerical designation.

I love a retiree mystery, but the genre is becoming a bit saturated, and 60 is a bit young for my tastes.

This also features the cozy tropes of food, citizen sleuths, and complicated pasts.

I much prefer the Thursday Murder Club series, but perhaps that's an unfair comparison, as I didn't start this series from the beginning.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC.

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