An American detective novelist, he is best known for works such as The Canary Murder Case and The Greene Murder Case. He also had a career as an art critic.
At age twenty-one, he became the literary editor of the Los Angeles Times.
An admirer of the naturalistic work of Theodore Dreiser, Van Dine wrote a novel that emulated Dreiser's literary style.
He was born Willard Huntington Wright in Charlottesville, Virginia. He married Eleanor Rulapaugh in 1930.
While working for the literary magazine The Smart Set, Van Dine published a short story by Joseph Conrad.