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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Guest Post & Giveaway: Who Drives the Plot: Criminal Versus Sleuth By Joyce T. Strand

Who Drives the Plot: Criminal Versus Sleuth
Joyce T. Strand, Author

"The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only the critic."-G.K. Chesterton

Despite more than 50 years of reading mysteries beginning with my very first Nancy Drew, I never viewed them from the perspective that the criminal creates and drives the plot as Mr. Chesterton suggests. 

However, when I examined my newest mystery, The Reporter’s Story, I had to admit that the crimes themselves drove my protagonist’s actions as she responded as an amateur sleuth.  And, from Chesterton’s viewpoint, the criminals did create the plot.

But I would hastily add that the character of my protagonist contributed to how she responded, or in Chesterton’s words, how she became the criminal’s critic. She had multiple options open to her in her response to the crimes. Her character traits, driven by her intense desire to become a world-class front-page reporter, pushed her to make the choices to solve a crime—to get her story—that many others might walk away from.

The same can be said for Sherlock Holmes and the infamous Moriarty. Of course, the villain creates the crime, but how Holmes responds is also unique with many options available in his “critique” of the evil deeds of his adversary. We know that he used the powers of deduction. It’s elementary, so to speak.

So there’s more to a compelling mystery than the criminal’s creativity.

This is especially true of the amateur sleuth’s story. A detective dedicated to solving crime could be viewed as a responder or a critic. It’s his job to solve the crime, and he acts in response to the criminal’s behavior in order to stop him.

 But an amateur sleuth has so many more options, not the least of which is to ignore the crimes. For example, as we read about Mary Higgins Clark’s innocent characters being pulled into a quagmire of crime, we see them behave in a very different manner than Stieg Larsson’s vengeful and tough Lisbeth Salander. Or, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch pursues his criminal in a different manner than Dick Francis jockeys drawn into the latest horse racing mystery.

Regardless, whether we view a mystery as driven by the crimes of the antagonist, or led by the reactions of the amateur or professional sleuth, we become intrigued by the puzzle itself.  We welcome red herrings and thrive on eliminating them as the solution. Most of the time we cheer for the sleuth to solve the crime—unless the criminal is Robin Hood. Then, maybe not.

We love the challenge and the intrigue. Some of us enjoy more suspense and bloodshed. Others prefer a more “cozy” approach.

But we appreciate a well-developed criminal and sleuth—a despicable villain or more thoughtful one just trying to make a living. And we turn the pages faster when the sleuth has difficulty uncovering the criminal and makes some mistakes along the way and maybe even gets into some danger.  We love our characters to be fleshed out by a well-conceived plot.

So, yes, maybe we can view our criminals as the creator of our mystery and our protagonists as the critic. But, oh my, there’s so much more to it—highlighted by the characters themselves and the puzzle pieces they choose to solve the mystery.


1st Prize: Kindle Fire 7” WiFi 8GB Black plus ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story

2nd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story
3rd Prize: ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story

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About The Author

Joyce T. Strand is the author of who-done-it contemporary and historical mysteries set in California. All of her published six novels are inspired by actual events and/or real people, although they are definitely fictionalized.

Strand headed corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in California's Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike her protagonist Jillian Hillcrest, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. Strand 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.

About The Reporter’s Story

A house burglary in 1912 San Francisco that the victim denies happening piques Emma Matheson’s reporter instincts. Why would a not-so-wealthy businessman deny that recovered loot was his and forego collecting his $8,000 worth of stolen jewelry? Why did he fire his maid and butler who originally reported the theft? The more she pursues the burglary that wasn’t a burglary, the more she sees it as a major story, involving murder, intrigue, and smuggling. Can she solve it and write the story that could project her to become the world-famous reporter she so covets? Or will she become one of its victims?
Additional info about Emma:  Emma Matheson is a young woman determined to be a star front-page reporter despite the bias against women in her day.Her mother died when she was born. She was reared by her father who runs a newspaper in Sacramento. She grew up learning about the newspaper business. Her father valued education and insisted she attend university before starting her career. She is bright, determined, a great writer — but a bit naive.

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  1. Hello Stephanie,
    On behalf of Joyce Strand and Book Marketing Services, I would like to thank you for hosting Joyce today on Must Read Mysteries. She is thrilled to be your guest today. If any of your followers have 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 The Reporter’s Story; 2nd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Reporter’s Story; 3rd Prize: ebook or paperback copy of The Reporter’s Story. Click here to enter: http://gvwy.io/46exxhl
    Joyce has an interview and excerpt today on Lisa Hasleton’s Reviews and Interviews. Please join her there as well: http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/2016/06/interview-with-mystery-author-joyce-t.html
    Please join Joyce tomorrow, Friday, June 17th. She will have the guest blogger on Lori’s Reading Corner. Her topic is entitled Mystery Exploits the Past, http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/.
    Check where Joyce is each day on her tour by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/JoyceTStrandAuthor?fref=ts
    Best regards, Della

  2. Thank you for the opportunity to meet your readers via your mystery blog. I have been a reader of mysteries since my childhood. I so enjoy getting drawn into the puzzle and rooting out those red herrings. You offer a bridge from author to reader, which I so very much appreciate. Enjoy my newest mystery. There are only a few red herrings!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Joyce, and good luck with the new book!

  3. Great opportunity to join in on the fun with your work.

  4. Thanks, Kathleen Costa. I appreciate your joining in!

  5. This is really amazing chance for me that I've joined you on the site and get best books material from you. The need is to focus on the trusted material and now you can meet with professional dissertation writers which is easy to manage all type of task. Keep it up!


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