An American author and screenwriter of pulp crime fiction, he is best known for titles such as The Killer Inside Me and Savage Night. He became posthumously known for his Black Lizard crime novel series.
Before becoming a writer, he worked as an oil field laborer and began an unsuccessful independent oil drilling operation.
He was influenced by the work of Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
With his wife, Alberta Hesse, he had three children.
He wrote the screenplay for the Stanley Kubrick film, The Killing.