featuring Susanna, Lady Appleton

sixteenth-century gentlewoman, herbalist, and sleuth




Long out of print in hardcover and mass market paperback, trade paperback editions of all ten books in the Face Down series are being newly edited by the author and are scheduled to be published in 2024 and 2025. Each one will be priced at $15.99. Since these books are published by print-on-demand, they are not likely to be on brick-and-mortar bookstore shelves, but any bookstore or library can order copies. Online bookstores will list them, but beware of sellers who charge more than $15.99. Autographed copies may be purchased direct from the author. Click here to inquire about shipping and handling charges.



Available Now


ISBN 979-8-224-04118-3



Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie is the first of ten historical mystery novels featuring Susanna, Lady Appleton, gentlewoman, herbalist, and sleuth. She's an expert on poisonous herbs, just what's needed to solve the crime when the steward on her husband's estate in Lancashire is found face down in a dish of marrow-bone pie. Lady Appleton is aided in her sleuthing by her faithful servants, Jennet and Mark, and hampered by the political ambitions of her duplicitous husband, Sir Robert. The story is set in England at the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth Tudor. 





ISBN 979-8-224-45012-1




Face Down upon an Herbal is the second book in the Face Down mystery series. Susanna, Lady Appleton, an expert on poisonous herbs, has written a book to warn people about them, although it had to be published anonymously because her husband, Sir Robert Appleton, doesn't approve of women authors. Unbeknownst to Susanna, he's taken credit for it himself. In this adventure, set in 1561, he's sent to Scotland on a mission for Queen Elizabeth. While he's gone, the queen gives Susanna a task as well. She's asked to assist a noblewoman, Lady Madderly, with the herbal she's writing. Accompanied by her young kinswoman, Catherine, Susanna travels to Madderly Castle, where the Yuletide season is just getting under way. When a Scots lord is found dead, face down upon a copy of the cautionary herbal Susanna wrote two years earlier, she feels a personal obligation to solve the crime.



Available June 6, 2024



ISBN 979-8-223-88799-7



Face Down Among the Winchester Geese is Book Three of the Face Down series. When Susanna's husband, Sir Robert, is one of the suspects in the murders of several Southwark prostitutes (known as "Winchester Geese"), Susanna resolves to uncover the identity of the real killer. Her goal is to prove Robert innocent, but as so often happens in an investigation, other secrets also come to light. Is it possible that Susanna's spouse has committed an even more heinous crime than murder? The year is 1563.



Face Down Collections

available as e-books only



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All three volumes of collected novels and short stories

are now available as e-books

from all the usual online stores


Some minor edits have been made and

notes from the author have been added


Volume One: ISBN 979-8-201-17638-9

Volume Two: ISBN 979-8-201-34325-5

Volume Three: ISBN 979-8-201-84683-1

$9.99 each




Titles in Volume One of The Face Down Collection are:


"The Body in the Dovecote"

"Much Ado about Murder"

Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie

"The Rubaiyat of Nicholas Baldwin"

Face Down Upon an Herbal

"Lady Appleton and the London Man"

Face Down Among the Winchester Geese

"Lady Appleton and the Cautionary Herbal"



Titles in Volume Two of The Face Down Collection are:


Face Down Beneath the Eleanor Cross

Face Down Under the Wych Elm

"The Riddle of the Woolsack"

Face Down Before Rebel Hooves

Face Down Across the Western Sea

"The Reiving of Bonville Keep"

"Lady Appleton and the Cripplegate Chrisoms"



Titles in Volume Three of The Face Down Collection are:


"Lady Appleton and the Bristol Crystals:

Face Down Below the Banqueting House

Face Down Beside St. Anne's Well

"Encore for a Neck Verse"

"Confusions Most Monstrous"

"Death by Devil's Turnips"

Face Down O'er the Border

"Any Means Short of Murder"

"A Wondrous Violent Motion"

"Lady Appleton and the Creature of the Night"

"The Curse of the Figure Flinger"

"Lady Appleton and the Yuletide Hogglers"




Links to Buy


For Volume One:


Barnes & Noble



For Volume Two:


Barnes & Noble



For Volume Three:


Barnes & Noble







Here are the individual novels and the collection

of short stories in their original formats



Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie

The First Lady Appleton Mystery

In 1559, Susanna, Lady Appleton, an expert on poisonous herbs,
suspects murder when the steward of her husband's Lancashire
estate is found face down in his marrow-bone pie.
While Sir Robert Appleton is off in France on a diplomatic mission,
Lady Appleton heads north from Kent with her faithful band of servants to solve the mystery,
capture a "ghost" and unearth a few secrets Sir Robert would just as soon have left buried.


"Emerson takes us on a wonderful jaunt through Elizabethan England." The Purloined Letter

"A nice rural flavor, complete with authentic rustics, living conditions, and social customs, blend with family secrets

and a slightly twisted plot to make this an enticing first historical for all collections." Library Journal



Face Down upon an Herbal

Book Two

When a Scots lord is found dead, face down upon
a copy of the cautionary herbal Lady Appleton wrote two years earlier,
she feels a personal obligation to solve the crime.
It is 1561. The place is rural Gloucestershire...and there is
a cold-blooded killer loose in the castle.

"Highly recommended for readers who appreciate suspenseful historical mysteries." Booklist


Face Down Among the Winchester Geese

Book Three

When her husband becomes one of the suspects in the murder of several Southwark prostitutes
(known as "Winchester Geese"), Lady Appleton vows
to uncover the identity of the real killer in order to prove him innocent.
The year is 1563.

"A solid bet for historical mystery fans." Publisher's Weekly


eleanor cross hc

Face Down Beneath the Eleanor Cross

Book Four

This time the victim is Sir Robert, and Susanna is the most likely suspect.
After all, she is an expert on poisonous herbs.


"An intriguing plot and a strong sense of time and place make this page turner an immensely satisfying read." I Love a Mystery

"Emerson grows more confident in each of these stories, enriching them with details of daily life, the miseries of travel,

 the uses of herbs, and the horrors of the English penal and justice systems as they existed in 1565." Booklist




Face Down Under the Wych Elm

Book Five


Under the wych elm lies a man, face down, the victim of witchcraft . . . or is he?

Susanna, Lady Appleton feels an obligation to help the accused women
even though doing so means she risks being accused of witchcraft herself.

Starred review in Kirkus:
"Exploiting the chaos for its criminal possibilities,
Emerson poses enduringly hard questions about women
and worth in this exemplary historical mystery."


rebel hooves

Face Down Before Rebel Hooves

Book Six

When Sir Walter Pendennis asks her help to stop a treasonous uprising,
how can Lady Appleton refuse?

"The most satisfying book in the series." Bangor Daily News


western sea

Face Down Across the Western Sea

Book Seven

Does England have a claim to the New World?
Queen Elizabeth I thinks so and she's gathered together a group
of scholars to prove it. Drawn into intrigue and danger
through her friendship with Sir Walter Pendennis,
Susanna lends a hand to uncover ancient secrets and solve a murder.


"Original, beguiling, and eminently readable." Kirkus

"Emerson does a crackling good job." Booklist




Face Down Below the Banqueting House

Book Eight


Queen Elizabeth is threatening to pay a visit to Leigh Abbey. Will murder change her mind?


"Spirited and studded with wry humor." Kirkus

"Emerson's plot is deft and complex; she is at the top of her form here

and leaves us with a breathless ending and lovely possibilities for future installments." Booklist






Face Down Beside St. Anne's Well

Book Nine

This time it's her twelve-year-old foster daughter, Rosamond, who leads Susanna into danger.
Set in Derbyshire in 1575.


"One of her best." Bangor Daily News

"An enjoyable, tightly plotted gem of a novel which will keep

the reader guessing until the very last page." I Love A Mystery




Face Down O'er the Border

Book Ten

Set in Scotland in 1577
When Catherine, Lady Glenelg, is accused of murdering her mother-in-law,
Susanna must travel o'er the border to discover who really committed the crime.


"This latest in a consistently rewarding series has the usual strengths in pace, plot, prose, and background detail."

Jon Breen in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

"An engaging read with well-loved characters you'll enjoy meeting again." Mystery Scene

"Historical mystery fans should find this a pleasurable read." Historical Novels Review


Murders and Other Confusions

The Chronicles of Susanna, Lady Appleton
16th Century Gentlewoman, Herbalist, and Sleuth

11 short stories featuring Lady Appleton and her friends


"A fascinating mixture of fictional and historical characters . . . there

 are twists, flashes of revelations, and some great titles. It's a fun, easy read."

Historical Novels Review

additional short stories set in the Face Down world, published elsewhere,

are included in Volumes One-Three of The Face Down Collection




set in England in the 1580s

a spin-off from the Face Down Mysteries



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available in hardcover, trade paperback, large print, and e-book


Mistress Jaffrey is Rosamond Appleton, illegitimate daughter of Lady Appleton's late, unlamented husband, Sir Robert. Now she's all grown up, married, and ready to solve crimes on her own. She was raised by Susanna Appleton, but she inherited some of the worst traits of both her parents. At sixteen, she made an impulsive runaway marriage, wedding her childhood playmate, Rob Jaffrey, once known as "Mole" and the son of Lady Appleton's steward and housekeeper, Mark and Jennet Jaffrey. Rosamond got what she wanted, control of her fortune, but now she's wed to Rob for life. There is no divorce in Elizabeth Tudor's England.


In Murder in the Queen's Wardrobe, Rosamond is shocked to learn her husband, from whom she has been estranged for some time, may be in danger. To help keep him safe, she is willing to go undercover as an intelligence gatherer for the Crown. Why not, when both her father and her stepfather did their share of spying when they were young? But when another agent is murdered, Rosamond must add crime-solving to her other responsibilities. With action that moves from the English court of Queen Elizabeth the First to the Russia of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, Mistress Jaffrey's first outing is a unique combination of spy thriller and cozy historical mystery.


Murder in the Merchant's Hall continues Rosamond and Rob's story and adds a murder mystery involving Rosamond's old friend Godlina Walkenden.


Murder in a Cornish Alehouse takes place in 1584, when Rosamond and Rob travel to Cornwall following the death of her stepfather in suspicious circumstances. There they once again encounter a treasonous plot, as well as a murder or two, but this time there are pirates.



For the real story behind the fictional one in Murder in the Queen's Wardrobe, click here

For a bibliography of sources used in writing all the books in the series, click here



Here's what the reviewers have to say about Murder in the Queen's Wardrobe:


Kirkus Reviews calls this "a diverting series . . . with lots of twists and turns and Tudor tidbits."


Publisher's Weekly describes Rosamond as "high-spirited, educated, and independent" and praises the way I draw on my "solid knowledge of the period to evoke vividly daily life in late 16th-century England."


Booklist praises "first-rate storytelling, eye-opening details of the politics and customs of the time, a taut and riveting plot, unexpected humor, and a charming and admirable heroine."


Library Journal calls Rosamond "a feisty, fiercely independent, and very likeable protagonist."


Historical Novels Review says Rosamond is "brave yet vulnerable" and "portrayed as a genuine woman of the era."


About Murder in the Merchant's Hall:


Booklist says "This fine new addition to Emerson's popular historical series offers a genuinely gripping mystery, an appealing protagonist, and an eye-opening look at London life during the Renaissance."


Publisher's Weekly says "evocative period detail and the warmth of Rosamond's byplay with Rob make for a satisfying read."


Historical Novels Review says "The mystery surrounding Hugo's death is intricate, well-plotted, and full of twists."


About Murder in a Cornish Alehouse:


Booklist says "This meticulously researched, cleverly plotted story has plenty of twists and wonderfully colorful characters and will appeal to all historical-mystery fans."


Publisher's Weekly says readers will find "a lot to like."


Kirkus says Rosamond "has an almighty difficult puzzle to untangle" and also finds the novel "enjoyable for its historical insights and detailed descriptions of everyday life in Tudor England."




All these books were first published in print format and are also available as e-books.

The covers shown are of the first editions of each.

If you are having trouble finding print copies, some are still available from the author.

All email should be sent to



I can remember quite clearly my reaction to learning that St. Martin's Press had decided, after seven books, not to continue publishing my Face Down series featuring Susanna, Lady Appleton, sixteenth-century gentlewoman, expert on poisonous herbs, and amateur sleuth. I had a lot more I wanted to do with that character and was determined not to abandon her. I ended up writing three more Face Down novels and numerous short stories featuring Susanna and her friends and she also appears in the second book of my spin-off Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries. What happened to her after1586 ("Lady Appleton and the Yuletide Hogglers," included in Volume Three of The Face Down Collection). As I imagine it, she's living comfortably at Leigh Abbey, her home in Kent, devoting herself to local concerns and taking care of her long-time companion, Jennet, who has a dicey heart. She's been reconciled with her adopted daughter, Rosamond, and there's a prospect of grandchildren in her future by way of Rosamond and her no-longer-estranged husband, Rob, Jennet's son.


Will I ever write more Lady Appleton stories? Probably not. I've already done prequels (included in Volume One of The Face Down Collection), and frankly, by sixteenth-century standards, now in her mid-fifties, she's getting a little long in the tooth to gad about solving crimes. Mid-fifties in those days would be equivalent to mid-eighties today. As for Rosamond and Rob, the third of their adventures (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) left them happily returning home to London and responsible for Rosamond's young half brother's well-being. I didn't actually say so, but in my mind, Rosamond was already pregnant. Raising a family should keep her too busy to meddle in more murders.


How do I know Rosamond had children? Because my other historical mystery series, the Diana Spaulding 1888 Quartet, mentions that she's descended from a famous sixteenth-century herbalist. Given the passage of several centuries, her knowledge of her own ancestry isn't precisely accurate. Since Susanna had no children of her own, it's her adopted daughter, Rosamond, from whom Diana is descended. Rosamond and Rob's first child, Andrew, is Diana's ancestor.


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