An American novelist and short story writer whose crime fiction inspired numerous film noir screenplays, he sometimes published under the pen names of George Hopley and William Irish. His numerous works include Phantom Lady (1942), Hotel Room (1958), and Savage Bride (1950).
He briefly studied at Columbia University, dropping out when his debut novel, Cover Charge, was published. He subsequently worked as a screenwriter in Los Angeles.
He suffered from alcoholism and died weighing only 89 pounds.
A closeted homosexual, he was briefly married to Violet Virginia Blackton (the marriage was annulled after several months).
His 1940 novel, The Bride Wore Black, was made into a film by Francois Truffaut.