Guest Post with Giveaway ~ Landscape For Murder by Joyce Strand


Highlighting Hisses for Villains

“The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture.”-Alfred Hitchcock

I welcome villains in literature, movies, or on stage (not so much in real life!)

They tend to be interesting characters either when they are blatantly malevolent such as Hannibal Lector or more complex and even pitiable, such as Javert in Hugo’s Les Miserables. 

In the days of vaudeville, the louder the hisses from the audience the more successful the villain. In today’s world, however, at least outside of comic-book literature, we often see a more complex villain who has endearing character traits that almost make us want him to win over our hero. Movies and television drama portray hoodlums such as Tony Soprano with sympathy and courage. And often the villain has some redeeming quality to match a villainous one in our hero.

But I still prefer the good old-fashioned kind that we can identify and “boo” when our heroes succeed in exposing or capturing them. We get enough of the other kind in real life. Of course, a villain can be a catastrophic event, an illness, or a death in the family. But for the moment let’s set those aside and focus on the more human version.

When I write my whodunit mysteries I typically assign mostly cowardly, greedy, despicable, uncaring attributes to my bad guys—although readers may not see these until the end of the story. And I occasionally let them do something worthwhile, but not too often.

On the other hand, my heroes are flawed—at least in their personal lives. My protagonist, Brynn Bancroft, is far from perfect, although she has a plausible reason for her lack of caring—she was reared in an abusive family. So in her personal life we see her struggling. But that’s OK for a heroine if she ends up doing the right thing and overcoming the villains’ obstructions to her solving the mystery puzzle.

In my current novel, Landmark for Murder, Brynn is struggling to grow her ability to build relationships while simultaneously overcoming the intrusion of a friend’s murder into her life. The villain[s] interrupt her efforts and pull her into the murder investigation, and we slowly learn who they are—mostly not very appealing people. 

OK, you’re right. A villain who only does bad deeds is less interesting than one with more character. I admit it. For example, my favorite villains are those with a sense of humor, such as Loki in the film The Avengers, or Goldfinger in the movie of the same.

I also believe that it takes an outstanding villain to create an outstanding hero, and without villains of some sort a story—at least a mystery—can be boring. Ian Fleming certainly knew how to create interesting villains who made it quite difficult for Bond to reach his goals. And how much would we care about the successes of Indiana Jones to acquire his artifacts without the attempts of the Nazis to stop him? In my favorite novel, Shogun, the life and death chess moves of the Shogun and his enemies illustrate how villains and heroes interact to produce spellbinding literature.

Of course, the heroes and villains I’ve outlined here are fiction. Real life is not so black and white and we find that each of us has a little of both in us. But isn’t it a relief to read a story where the bad guy gets his?

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landscapeFile Size: 701 KB
Series: Brynn Bancroft Mystery, Book 2
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publication Date: November 5, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Genre: Mystery
Buy: Kindle

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?


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joyceJoyce T. Strand is the author of who-done-it mysteries.

Her most recent contemporary novel, HILLTOP SUNSET, is the first of a series featuring protagonist Brynn Bancroft, a financial guru in transition to winemaker from corporate executive. Brynn Bancroft is a minor character in Strand’s novels ON MESSAGE, OPEN MEETINGS, and FAIR DISCLOSURE—three mysteries solved by Jillian Hillcrest, a publicist whose boss was Chief Financial Officer Brynn Bancroft.

Her newest novel, THE JUDGE’S STORY, published June 23, 2015, is a historical mystery set in a small California town (Ventura) in 1939 and features a California Superior Court Judge.

Much like her protagonist Jillian Hillcrest, Strand headed corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in California’s Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. She focused on writing by-lined articles, press releases, white papers, and brochures to publicize her companies and their products.

Strand has been a mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy stories as a teenager. She admits that in between reading Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming, Erle Stanley Gardner, and John McDonald in her youth, she also checked out Tolstoy, Steinbeck, Faulkner, and Dostoyevsky, but her love of the “puzzle” always drew her back to the latest fictional detective. Today she favors John Grisham, Louise Penney, Linwood Barclay, Michael Connelly, and Stieg Larsson. She has always enjoyed the challenge of following clues to solve the puzzle of a mystery before it is revealed.

Therefore Strand relished the transition from writing marketing copy to creating fictional sleuths.

However, one other confession: her most favorite novel ever is Shogun. Even though the historical James Clavell novel is not a “mystery,” it is full of puzzles inside puzzles in medieval Japan. And the tale is told so well that readers feel like they’re actually there.

Today, in addition to creating mysteries, Strand writes and publishes a blog, Strand’s Simply Tips, is a writer for a regional wine magazine, and is working on the second Brynn Bancroft mystery, to be published in November 2015.

Strand lives with her two cats and collection of cow statuary in Southern California, and seeks out and attends as many Broadway musicals and other stage plays as she can get to.

Strand received her Ph.D. from the George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and BA from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA

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post-divider rightGiveaway

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

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  1. Hello Lori,

    On behalf of Joyce Strand and Book Marketing Services, I would like to thank you for hosting Joyce today on Lori’s Reading Corner. If anyone has any questions and/or comments they would like to ask Joyce, please leave them in the comment box. She 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:

    Please join us tomorrow, Tuesday, November 17th on A Literary Vacation,, for her guest post. Her topic for tomorrow is The “Where” and “Who” of a Whodunit.

    Landscape for Murder is now available at:

    Amazon – and paperback version is available at:

    Barnes and Noble Nook –

    Unicorn Books and Gifts (autographed paperback):!/~/search/keywords=Landscape%20for%20Murder&offset=0&sort=relevance

    We invite your readers to follow Joyce’s 10 day virtual book blog tour. Direct links for each day of the tour can be found on Joyce’s Facebook page

    Best regards, Della


  2. I would like to add my personal "thank you" to Lori's Reading Corner for hosting me and offering the opportunity to talk about my newest mystery. Of course, I love talking about my books and I welcome the platform to meet potential readers. I know it takes time and commitment on your part and I truly appreciate your contribution.  And I do hope your readers enjoy my "villains!"

  3. Cynthia E. Blain says:

    Sorry but I don't Tweet.  Low vision and too many e-mail already so cannot enter in those categories.  I am very anxioujs to get your book as it sounds wonderful.   Thank you for having such a nice giveaway and congratulations on the release.



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