An acclaimed American fiction writer and screenwriter, he is most remembered for such mystery novels as The Talking Sparrow Murders (1934), Bright Destination (1935), and The Ticking Terror Murders (1935). He received a Newbery Honor for his 1946 work, The Avion My Uncle Flew.
He toured with a French circus and was stationed in Europe as a U.S. intelligence officer before working as a screenwriter and a Stanford University journalism professor. He published his first mystery novel, Death Flies High, in 1931.
While living in Hawaii, he was hired as the assistant to the president of Dole Pineapple.
He was born in a small Illinois town called Wyanett. He later settled with his wife in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Like scientist John McCarthy, he was affiliated with Stanford University.