Loren D. Estleman was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on September 15, 1952, to Leauvett Charles Estleman, a truck driver, and Louise Milankovich Estleman, a postal clerk. He grew up in an 1867 farmhouse whose upper floor, including his bedroom, was unheated. He began submitting short stories to publications when he was fifteen and received 160 rejections over the next eight years. After his father became disabled, Estleman’s mother went to work to support the family. To reduce expenses, Estleman commuted to Eastern Michigan University, majoring in English and journalism. After graduating in 1974, he worked as a police-beat reporter and editor for the Ypsilanti Press; Community Foto-News in Pinckney, Michigan; Ann Arbor News; and Dexter Leader until becoming a full-time fiction writer in 1980.
Estleman’s early novels include two Sherlock Holmes pastiches, but he found his true voice when he began the Amos Walker series. As a reporter, he spent considerable time with police officers, absorbing their jargon and learning the rhythms of their speech, which he puts to excellent use in his fiction. Estleman had long been fascinated by the criminal world. His Austrian-born grandmother was an acquaintance of Al Capone through frequenting gambling casinos.
Estleman eventually settled in Whitmore Lake, Michigan. He married Carole Ann Ashley, a marketing and public relations specialist, on September 5, 1987, was divorced in 1990, and married mystery and Western writer Deborah Morgan, a descendant of an outlaw in the famous Dalton gang, in 1993.
Estleman has reviewed books for several newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. He has said that his favorite writers are Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, Edith Wharton, W. Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, and Raymond Chandler. The influences of Chandler, Hemingway, Poe, and London are apparent throughout his work.