An American author known for his award-winning detective novels, he is most famous for The Monkey's Raincoat (1987), Sunset Express (1996), and The Watchman (2007). He also had a screenwriting career; his television credits include episodes of Miami Vice, Quincy, and Hill Street Blues.
He studied mechanical engineering at Louisiana State University before moving to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. He began his career writing scripts for shows such as Cagney & Lacey and L.A. Law.
His novel, The Monkey's Raincoat, won the 1988 Anthony Award for Best First Novel.
He grew up near Baton Rouge, Louisiana as an adopted, only child. He and his wife, Patricia, later became parents to a daughter.
He cites Raymond Chandler as one of his biggest influences.