Brynn Bancroft’s enjoyment at running her former husband’s winery is overcast by a rash of troubling burglaries and her inability to reconnect with her ex. When she receives an urgent phone call from an old college friend requesting that she speak to an investor, she welcomes the interruption. Unfortunately, her friend’s business activities intrude on her routine. Then her ex-husband threatens her marriage hopes when he considers selling the winery. When the burglaries escalate, a sense of foreboding plagues her, hinting at trouble to come.
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About Brynn Bancroft
Brynn Bancroft evolved from the Jillian Hillcrest mysteries where she served as Jillian’s manager while Chief Financial Officer of Harmonia Therapeutics in Silicon Valley. A shapely blonde with a MENSA IQ, she had an affair with the CEO of the company.
Unfortunately for Brynn, the CEO’s wife figured out that the two were involved and asked Brynn to leave the company, which she agreed to do.
In the meantime, her husband, Liam—not unfamiliar with extramarital affairs himself but also understanding that Brynn grew up in an abusive household- grew tired of waiting for Brynn to commit to their relationship and asked for a divorce. At the same time, he solicited her assistance in developing his new winery in Sonoma County, Calif.
As the protagonist in HILLTOP SUNSET, Brynn begins to shed her past and her behavior of protecting herself by blocking emotions. We watch her transition from a shallow uncaring person to someone who starts to understand the emotions of friendship and love.
At the same time, much like Jillian—who occasionally shows up in the Brynn Bancroft mysteries—Brynn, too, attracts mystery and murders as she grows to enjoy life at her ex-husband’s Hilltop Sunset Winery.
I loved this mystery – not least because it features a female detective with a Welsh name and lots of wine. Brynn Bancroft is interesting because she combines a frustrating reticence to deal with issues in her private life, with plenty of energy when it comes to crime fighting and protecting her beloved winery and her rather ad-hoc family comprising her ward (the son of a previous romantic partner) and her ex husband who she is desperate to remarry.
The story centers around the sudden reappearance of an old friend who is looking for investors to help build their wine business but then things start to go missing, solar panel and wines, and a body turns up.
The plot is intricate and interwoven with so many threads it is occasionally difficult to keep up – but all the more interesting because Strand writes about and adapts real life events. This more than makes up for the slight lack of descriptive detail about the characters’ appearance.
Although the reader suspects quite early on who the villains are, Strand keeps the reader on the edge of their seats, teasing them with clues but never quite giving the game away. When the baddies are finally confronted it is immensely satisfying, not least because Brynn finally realises the truth about friendship.
Although Overcast Sunset is part of a series, it works perfectly well as a stand alone mystery and certain whets the reader’s appetite to return to the beginning to understand why Brynn is such a complex, occasionally annoying, but engaging character.
Hilltop Sunset: A Brynn Bancroft Mystery
A mystery set in wine country pitting financial exec Brynn Bancroft against a
determined stalker, a troubled love interest, and career clashes.
Brynn Bancroft learns that a former employee who beat her nearly to death
has returned to stalk her and her friend, Jillian Hillcrest, also a former victim.
Recently divorced, Brynn turns to a new love interest only to encounter additional unwelcome issues. Meanwhile, short-timer Brynn, who has resigned from her Silicon Valley company, becomes bored fulfilling her remaining responsibilities there. She begins to prefer supporting the launch of her ex-husband’s new hilltop winery while waiting to move to her next position. Between her stalker and her new love interest, Brynn faces a series of life-changing events.
Read an excerpt here
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Landscape For Murder: A Brynn Bancroft Mystery
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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About the Author
Joyce T. Strand is the author of who-done-it contemporary and historical mysteries set in San Francisco, Napa-Sonoma wine regions of California, or Ventura, California.
Her most recent novels, Hilltop Sunset and Landscape for Murder, feature protagonist Brynn Bancroft, a financial guru in transition to winemaker from corporate executive. Brynn Bancroft is a minor character in Strand’s first three novels On Message, Open Meetings, and Fair Disclosure—three mysteries solved by Jillian Hillcrest, a publicist in Silicon Valley whose boss was Chief Financial Officer Brynn Bancroft.
Her first historical mystery, The Judge’s Story, tells the story of a Superior Court Judge with a passion for social justice as well as the law who strives to discover the truth behind the mystery of a robbery-murder in a small California town in 1939.
All of her novels are inspired by actual events and/or real people, although they are definitely fictionalized.
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.
She lives with her two cats and collection of cow statuary in Southern California, and enjoys exploring and writing about the growing wine region in the Ramona Valley near San Diego.
She received her Ph.D. from the George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA
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Midlife mum from Cardiff. Wine Imbiber. Likes glitter, fluff and olives. Approaching tweendom with Caitlin (11) and Ieuan (10). The husband is hiding in the loft.
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