Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Guest Post: Joyce Strand, Author of Landscape for Murder: A Brynn Bancroft Mystery

I am so happy to welcome back author Joyce Strand to A Literary Vacation! Today she has for us a delightful guest post on how important the setting is to a mystery story. Please enjoy her post and continue on after for more information about Landscape for Murder, the author herself and how to enter the tour-wide giveaway!

The “Where and When” of a Whodunit
By Joyce T. Strand, Author
Landscape for Murder: A Brynn Bancroft Mystery

"I know what kind of things I myself have been irritated by in detective stories. They are often about one or two persons, but they don't describe anything in the society outside."-Stieg Larsson

A whodunit can benefit significantly by using the setting as an opportunity to help tell a story. The “where and when” of a plot can offer meaningful contributions to create the puzzle of a mystery, deepen the understanding and engagement of villains and heroes, and supply more intricate clues for the reader.

Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller come alive as citizens of Los Angeles and solve crimes that frequently could only arise in Hollywood or on unique sites such as the concrete Los Angels River. Sherlock Holmes explores crime in the fogs of London. Or if we turn to TV shows, so many of the police procedurals exploit specific attributes of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or New Orleans to create their drama.

I have always pursued the traits of setting to create my mysteries. Before starting my whodunits I first identify my characters and the plot, but not far behind is my consideration of the setting. Jillian Hillcrest thrives best in Silicon Valley; Brynn Bancroft in the wine country north of San Francisco; and Judge Drapeau in a small California town in 1939.

In my current mystery, Landscape for Murder, my protagonist, Brynn Bancroft has quit her job as the Chief Financial Officer of a Silicon Valley biotech company to help her ex-husband manage his new winery in Sonoma Valley. The book opens in a a village called Point Reyes west of Sonoma that I visited on an artisan cheese tour. I found it intriguing. It is located near the ocean with dramatic views, but the village itself boasts a Marin County Sheriff’s office –a unique shingled building next to the fire department. I knew immediately that I would set a murder there, because it was so unlikely a locale in which one might occur.

In the meantime, the opportunity to involve wine and its production in the plot helps to draw in Brynn and her friends as they get ready to release a new cabernet. I don’t want to say too much more about the backdrop of wine production beyond suggesting that it offered a platform to present the mystery. Several scenes revolve around Brynn’s winery and her marketing of her new cabernet that also attract some negative characters. In addition, I was able to incorporate elements of several real California cases into the story.

Setting also offers the ability to create red herrings. As part of her participation in the wine industry, Brynn encounters a variety of personalities, some pleasant and some not so. Neither she nor the reader is certain about these characters and their relationship to the murder of Brynn’s artist friend. We also experience crimes and meet law enforcement specific to Marin and Sonoma Counties. We are no longer in San Francisco or Silicon Valley. But the growing of grapes, the production of wine, and its distribution relate to Brynn’s efforts to solve the case.

I know that setting may not always offer readers insight into the story or the characters of a novel. However, I find it helps enrich my whodunits by increasing the complexity that helps readers engage more with the characters and become part of solving the mystery.
Publisher: McCloughan and Schmeltz 
Publication Date: November 5th, 2015
Pages: 279

A friend's murder. An unconnected cast of suspects, including the victim's missing adult daughter. As if that wasn t enough, Brynn Bancroft s winery has been broken into. Can she deal with her co-owner ex and help the police find her friend's murder so she can finally overcome her own troubled past and enjoy family life with her teenage ward?

Buy the Book


About the Author

Mystery author Joyce T. Strand, much like her fictional character, Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more
than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder. Rather, she focused on publicizing her companies and their products. She is the author of the Jillian Hillcrest mysteries ON MESSAGE, OPEN MEETINGS, and FAIR DISCLOSURE, the Brynn Bancroft mystery HILLTOP SUNSET and the historical mystery, THE JUDGE’S STORY. Strand received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. She currently lives in Southern California with her two cats, a collection of cow statuary and art, and her muse, the roadrunner.

Find out more about Joyce T. Strand on her website and blog, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


Giveaway Time!!!

There is a tour-wide giveaway of the following:

 1st Prize: Kindle Fire 7” WiFi 8GB Black plus ebook or paperback copy of Landscape for Murder
2nd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of Landscape for Murder
3rd Prize: ebook or paperback copy of Landscape for Murder
Go HERE to enter the giveaway.
Good Luck!!!


  1. Hi Colleen,
    On behalf of Joyce Strand and Book Marketing Services, I would like to thank you for hosting Joyce today on A Literary Vacation. If anyone has any questions and/or comments they would like to share, please leave them in the comment box. Joyce will be by later in the day to respond.
    Joyce is having a giveaway during her tour. 1st prize: Kindle Fire HD 7” WiFi 8GB Black plus ebook or paperback copy of Landscape for Murder; 2nd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of Landscape for Murder; 3rd Prize: ebook or paperback copy of Landscape for Murder. Click here to enter: http://gvwy.io/gx4k112
    This is Joyce’s last day of her 10 day virtual book blog tour. If you would like to catch up on the other postings, links can be found on either Joyce’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JoyceTStrandAuthor or on her website http://joycestrand.com/.
    Landscape for Murder is now available at:
    Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Landscape-Murder-Brynn-Bancroft-Mystery-ebook/dp/B016JL5RSS/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1446743176&sr=8-3&keywords=joyce+t+strand and paperback version is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Landscape-Murder-Brynn-Bancroft-Mystery/dp/0996145427/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1446882308&sr=8-3
    Barnes and Noble Nook - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/landscape-for-murder-joyce-t-strand/1122902146?ean=2940151221658
    Unicorn Books and Gifts (autographed paperback): http://www.unicornbooksandgifts.com/shop.html#!/~/search/keywords=Landscape%20for%20Murder&offset=0&sort=relevance
    Best regards, Della

  2. It's great to be back! Thank you so much for offering your blog to help introduce my newest mystery. I truly appreciate the time and commitment you offer authors so that we can bring our stories to your readers. And I love talking about my stories! I cannot say "thank you" enough.

    1. Oh you are so very welcome, Joyce! This is one of my favorite parts about having a blog...interacting with authors! Thank you for coming back!