Member Reviews

This was my first book with Thelma, Pat and Liz as more or less enthusiastic amateur sleuths. And although I liked it, I think I must go back and read the first two books, because I was sometimes really struggling with these characters. At a certain point they all blended together and I had to go back and see who’s married to whom and what is happening with children moving back home and husbands changing careers. However, I’m a fan of these kind of books (no need I think to mention other authors/series here) and it turned out to be a nice read. Not spectacular though, but maybe this is because I couldn’t get my head around the ‘supernatural’ part of the story and thus on figuring out what was really happening.
What made this book enjoyable for me was the fact that Thelma, Pat and Liz are very unlikely crime solvers, and the setting of a small village where everybody knows everybody – and secrets galore!
Thanks to Avon Books and Netgalley for this review copy.

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This is the third outing for the trio of retired school teachers and while it could be read as a standalone novel it would probably be a richer experience to read the books in order. The previous two books concentrated on the friendship of the three protagonists but I felt this one looked at their family relationships in more detail. The change of focus, for me, led to a more disjointed approach to crime solving although the skills of primary school teachers were still functional! An easy read set in a beautiful part of the world.

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Liz, Pat and Thelma all have issues to deal with but when an ex-colleague tells them a tale of supernatural happenings they are fairly sceptical. However, a chance encounter leads them to look into a couple of suspicious deaths and the three friends are back into their sleuthing mode again.

This is a very gently cosy crime novel which is the latest in an enjoyable series. I love the North Yorkshire setting and the way that modern life impacts on a very traditional set up. It's not high fiction and it's fairly predictable but Hall's books are solid and reliable - they're also rather fun.

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'A Clock Stopped Dead' is the third time we get to hang out with Liz, Thelma and Pat. For those who don't know, these three ladies are retired teachers who meet up at a café every Thursday for cake, coffee, and a chat. But somehow they always seem to get sucked into solving a mystery, and they sure have their work cut out for them this time. I think you could possibly get away with reading this as a stand-alone, but as you should all know by now there is a law that says series should be read in order from beginning to end (😉) and if you want to get a really good feel for these characters and their relationships ... Don't skip a book.

When Marguerite's train is canceled late at night, she goes off for a walk along some foggy roads, for reasons I still can't quite fathom. She comes across a charity shop, but when she makes the visit again the next day in broad daylight, the shop is gone. Ooooh, spooky! On its own, this might not mean much to anybody. But there just happens to be a car accident in that same area on that same night, and as we all know : there is no such thing as a coincidence.

A rather intriguing mystery that probably added a few lines to my forehead along the way. I just couldn't figure out how these events were connected, what Marguerite saw or thought she saw, or even if she was entirely sane. The whole idea of spiritualism and a hint of the supernatural causes a bit of friction between Pat and Thelma as well. To believe or not to believe.

I must admit that the mystery part of the story took a bit of a backseat for me. I found I was way more invested in the lives of these three friends. There is so much going on, apart from the little differences of opinion that actually made me worry about the friendship. Someone is struggling with growing older, someone is planning a holiday, children are moving back home, someone has a change of career ... It's all quite believable and relatable. Every day issues so many of us deal with too. Despite their differences, the dynamics between Liz, Thelma and Pat work like a charm and in an odd sort of way they seem to complete one another. Even if they might not quite realise that themselves.

As for the puzzle that needed solving, it took me a while but in the end I figured things out before the reveal. Though not before Pat and Thelma, who are obviously smarter than I am. In hindsight, it all seemed rather obvious and easier to solve than the previous cases. Maybe if I hadn't been so distracted by the every day goings-on of the characters, I would have seen it earlier. Not that I'm complaining.

These three friends feel like they could easily be my friends, even if I'm not quite at their age. But it always feels as if I could just pull up a chair and join in with their conversations. Be it about what goes on at home, or solving a mystery. 'A Clock Stopped Dead' is yet another enjoyable and entertaining cosy mystery in this series and I do so hope there will be more, as I alway love spending time with Liz, Thelma and Pat.

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A disappearing charity shop. A ghostly apparition. A clock that is stopped but still ticks. A death. Thelma, Pat and Liz are on the case!

This book was basically Scooby-Doo meets the Thursday Murder Club. Three retired school teachers get sucked into a murder mystery involving a possibly haunted house. The set up was fantastic.
I really liked the relationship between the three characters. Their friendship was so solid and wholesome. They really did build each other up. The side characters were also introduced well, and despite there being a lot of them they were all fairly distinct.
As the book wore on, though, I felt that there was just too much happening. There were too many sub plots trying to throw you off and give you - and the budding detectives - red herrings that I just ended up a bit confused. I also started to struggle to tell the three main characters apart. At points in the story they split up, and chapters would jump between each of them describing concurrent events. I liked the writing style, but I found myself struggling to remember which character was which. None of the had any really distinctive traits, and more than once I found myself doing mental gymnastics trying to remember whose husband had suddenly popped up.
I really wanted to love this. The blurb was brilliant, and it started off so strong, but I feel it lost some of it's identity and tried to do too much by the end

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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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