An American mystery writer, he is particularly known for his novels focusing on the character of Irwin Maurice Fletcher. His best-known Fletcher novels include Running Scared (1964) and Fletch (1974). He is also known for his Flynn series, which includes such titles as Flynn (1977) and Flynn's In (1984).
He paid for his Harvard education by operating yachts. After graduating from college, he worked as a schoolteacher and wrote for The Boston Globe.
In his later years, he bought a farm in Giles County, Tennessee.
He grew up in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He later married Cheryle Mcdonald.
His popular novel, Fletch, was made into a movie starring Chevy Chase.