An American fiction writer and poet, he is best known for his crime novel series featuring the openly gay private eye, Dave Brandstetter. Under the pen name of Rose Brock, he also wrote a duo of gothic novels.
He published his first poem in The New Yorker in 1952. Two decades later, he published his first Dave Brandstetter novel, Fadeout.
He sometimes wrote under the pseudonym of James Colton (alt.: James Coulton).
He was gay and had several long-term male lovers while he was married to his lesbian wife, Jane Bancroft. In 1943, he and Bancroft had one daughter together.
He and Dorothy Parker both contributed to The New Yorker.