(Elizabeth Eyre, a joint pseudonym; Susannah Stacey, a joint pseudonym)
PERSONAL: Born in London, England; daughter of Percy Angelo (an artist) and Emilie Horatia (a homemaker; maiden name, Coote) Staynes. Education: Oxford University, B.A., 1948.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Curtis Brown, 162-168 Regent St., London W1R 5TA, England.
MEMBER: Crime Writers Association.
Out of That World (juvenile), Faber and Faber (London, England), 1979.
(With Margaret Storey) Quarry, Robert Hale (London, England), 1999.
"INSPECTOR ROBERT BONE" MYSTERY SERIES; WITH MARGARET STOREY, UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM SUSANNAH STACEY
Goodbye, Nanny Gray, Summit Books (New York, NY), 1987.
A Knife at the Opera, Bodley Head (London, England), 1988.
Body of Opinion, Bodley Head (London, England), 1988, Summit Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Grave Responsibility, Summit Books (New York, NY), 1990.
The Late Lady, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Bone Idle, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Dead Serious, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
"SIGISMONDO" MYSTERY SERIES; WITH MARGARET STOREY, UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM ELIZABETH EYRE
Death of a Duchess, Headline (London, England), 1991, Harcourt Brace (New York, NY), 1992.
Curtains for the Cardinal, Headline (London, England), 1992, Harcourt Brace (New York, NY), 1993.
Poison for the Prince, Headline (London, England), 1993, Harcourt Brace (New York, NY), 1994.
Bravo for the Bride, Headline (London, England), 1994, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1995.
Axe for an Abbot, Headline (London, England), 1995, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Dirge for a Doge, Headline (London, England), 1996, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997.
SIDELIGHTS: Jill Staynes writes primarily under two pseudonyms with her friend Margaret Storey. Their first pseudonym, Susannah Stacey, is the name used in writing their books that feature Superintendent Robert Bone, a deeply intelligent man who solves crimes in a typically sedate British fashion. A Publishers Weekly contributor who reviewed The Late Lady, the fifth book in the series, wrote that the writing team "spins a fine mystery distinguished by complex, intriguing family relationships." Bone investigates three murders at the Kent home of author Jake Marsh. His housekeeper, Anna, is the first to go when she falls down a flight of stairs after tripping over a skateboard. Next comes the grisly murder of his second wife, followed by the discovery of the body of his first wife, who had been missing for fourteen years, and whose body had been hidden by a now-crumbled garden wall. The reviewer concluded by calling this "a literate, finely tuned story."
Bone is on his honeymoon in Bone Idle, and he and his bride, Grizel, are the guests of Lord Roke and his wife at their castle. Also in residence is a tour group, one member of which falls to his death. Lord Roke is then murdered, and Bone is forced to investigate. There is no lack of suspects, with whispered-of affairs and a long-suffering wife. A Publishers Weekly writer called this outing a "delicious whodunit."
Staynes and Storey, under the pseudonym Elizabeth Eyre, also have a series set in medieval Italy and featuring Sigismondo, a master of disguise and soldier of fortune who shaves his head, and whose dimwitted sidekick, Benno, has deplorable hygiene. The first two entries, Death of the Duchess and Curtains for the Cardinal were reviewed by Publishers Weekly contributors. The first book was described as an "uneasy hybrid of historical romance and detective story," and the second was said to suffer "from its indeterminate identity." The third entry, Poison for the Prince, however, was said to be "rendered with a lighter touch," by a Publishers Weekly critic. In this story, Sigismondo becomes involved in murders that involve alchemy and poison.
Dirge for a Doge is the sixth entry in this series, in which Niccolo Ermolin, a wealthy Venetian nobleman, is found murdered shortly after his marriage to a much-younger woman. Sigismondo discovers the clues to his death in a secret diary in which the victim recorded his business transactions. The code therein could expose a series of deals that involve Niccolo's family, the church, and the governments of Venice and Rome. Booklist reviewer Margaret Flanagan called the story "an exquisitely crafted blend of history, humor, and suspense."
Staynes once told CA: "Margaret Storey and I write detective stories because we are interested in structure, suspense, and psychological motivation."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armchair Detective, winter, 1994, review of The Late Lady, p. 17; winter, 1997, review of Bone Idle, p. 19.
Booklist, February 1, 1993, review of The Late Lady, p. 975; March 15, 1997, Margaret Flanagan, review of Dirge for a Doge, p. 1229.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1991, review of Grave Responsibility, p. 441; December 15, 1992, review of The Late Lady, p. 1540; July 15, 1995, review of Bone Idle, p. 988.
Library Journal, March 1, 1993, review of The Late Lady, p. 112; August, 1995, review of Bone Idle, p. 124.
New York Times Book Review, March 10, 1991, review of Body of Opinion, p. 28; April 4, 1993, review of The Late Lady, p. 17; March 5, 1995, review of Bravo for the Bride, p. 20; September 3, 1995, review of Bone Idle, p. 15.
Publishers Weekly, January 1, 1992, review of Death of the Duchess, p. 49; February 22, 1993, review of The Late Lady, p. 85; June 21, 1993, review of Curtains for the Cardinal, p. 88; September 26, 1994, review of Poison for the Prince, p. 55; February 6, 1995, review of Bravo for the Bride, p. 80; July 17, 1995, review of Bone Idle, p. 223; January 15, 1996, review of Axe for an Abbot, p. 449.