Lawrence Sanders was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1920, and was reared and educated in the Midwest, specifically Michigan, Minnesota, and Indiana. He was graduated from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, earning a bachelor’s degree in literature in 1940. The literary allusions in Sanders’s works attest his formal education. It was the encouragement of a ninth-grade English teacher, however, that caused him to entertain seriously the notion of becoming a professional writer. The English teacher published in the school paper a book review written by the young Sanders; once he saw his byline in print, he knew that he wanted to be a writer.
After four years in the United States Marine Corps, from 1943 to 1946, Sanders returned to New York City and began working in the field of publishing. He worked for several magazines as an editor and as a writer of war stories, men’s adventure stories, and detective fiction. He eventually became feature editor of Mechanix Illustrated and editor of Science and Mechanics. Utilizing information that he had gained in the course of editing articles on surveillance devices, Sanders wrote The Anderson Tapes, an audaciously innovative first novel for a fifty-year-old man—and one that foreshadowed the Watergate break-in.
Since 1970, the year in which The Anderson Tapes was published, Sanders produced novels at the rate of one or more per year. His first novel made him wealthy enough to devote himself full-time to his own writing. Most of his crime novels were best sellers, and several of them were made into successful films. Sanders died in Florida in 1998; however, the Archy McNally series continues under the authorship of Vincent Lardo.