The former pastor of Calvary
Baptist Church and religion editor for the Daily Journal
newspaper in Tupelo, Mississippi, John Armistead turned his writing
talents to a different field when he published his first mystery
novel, A Legacy of Vengeance, in 1994. Set in the fictional
Chakchiuma County, Mississippi, Armisteads debut novel introduces
Sheriff Grover Bramlett, a Southern lawman who finds himself involved
in, and ultimately endangered by, the mysterious killings of local
ex-Ku Klux Klansmen.
Armistead was born June 14, 1941,
in Mobile, Alabama. At an early age he cultivated a taste for reading
and writing, but it was religion which was to be his principal calling
for the first part of his life. He earned a B.A. from Mississippi
College in 1963 and a Master of Divinity from Golden Gate Baptist
Theological Seminary in 1966. In 1975, he received the D.Min. degree
from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
His career as a Baptist minister
took him to Hawaii from 1975 to 1979, when he moved to Tupelo, Mississippi,
abd became pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, a position he held
until 1994. At the age of 52, he published his first novel, A
Legacy of Vengeance. When told by a deacon at his church that
if he published another book, he was “out of here,”
Armistead resigned from the church and took a position as a religion
journalist for the Tupelo Daily
In 1995, Armistead published A
Homecoming for Murder and followed that with Cruel as the
Grave in 1996, both of which featured Sheriff Bramlett. Kirkus
Reviews called the latter novel “an appealing, locally
grounded mystery marred only by a repetitive attention to irrelevant
detail.” Since then, he has published two juvenile novels,
The $66 Summer and The Return of Gabriel.
He is a member of the Mystery Writers
of America, the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy
of Religion, and the Harley Owners Group.
Article updated October
- A Legacy of Vengeance. Carrol & Graf, 1994;
Dell Paperback, 1997.
- A Homecoming for Murder. Carrol & Graf, 1995.
- Cruel as the Grave. Carrol & Graf, 1996.
- The $66 Summer. (Juvenile Fiction) Milkweed Editions,
- The Return of Gabriel. (Juvenile Fiction) Milkweed
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