Barry Maitland was born in Paisley, Scotland, and raised in London. He studied architecture at Cambridge University, graduating in 1966, and worked as an architect in the United Kingdom for a number of years before attending the University of Sheffield, where he earned a doctorate in urban design. In 1984 he accepted a position as dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Newcastle, in New South Wales, Australia, where he remained until 2000. He became a full-time writer settled in the Hunter Valley region of southeastern Australia, two hours north of Sydney.
Maitland’s first novel, The Marx Sisters (1994), was short-listed for the John Creasey New Blood Dagger award by the British Crime Writers’ Association. The Marx Sisters, which was translated into several languages, also established the series characters, David Brock and Kathy Kolla, who would become the mainstay of Maitland’s subsequent crime fiction. Maitland’s second novel, The Malcontenta (1995), was awarded the New Kelly Award for best crime-fiction novel by an Australian author.
Before his 1994 debut, Maitland had already published several academic works on architecture and design. One of these, Shopping Malls: Planning and Design (1985), is a study of how shopping malls have evolved, architecturally, out of more traditional urban retail spaces and how they might become more amenable to a broader range of human social uses.