The Mississippi Writers Page
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John Armistead

(1941- )

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, Armistead’s 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 Journal newspaper.

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.

John B. Padgett


Fiction: Novels

  • 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, 2000.
  • The Return of Gabriel. (Juvenile Fiction) Milkweed Editions, 2002.


Articles and Book Reviews:

Internet Resources


How to cite this page (MLA style):

Padgett, John B. "John Armistead." The Mississippi Writers Page. October 2002. U of Mississippi English Department.