An American crime writer, he is particularly known for his P.I. Matthew Scudder series. He also wrote several popular novels featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr, the "gentleman burglar."
He briefly attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Early in his career, he published works of erotic fiction.
He published more than fifty novels and over a hundred short stories.
He married Lynne Block; together, they had three daughters.
He co-wrote the screenplay for My Blueberry Nights, a film starring Norah Jones.