Robert Crais Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Robert Kyle Crais grew up near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in a blue-collar family made up largely of Gulf Coast oil refinery engineers and beat police officers. An avid reader as a child, he purchased at the age of fifteen a used copy of Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister (1949), in which a distraught woman from Kansas approaches Philip Marlowe to help find her brother. The hard-edged prose style entranced the young Crais, and he decided that he would be a writer. While supporting himself through a series of menial jobs and attempting college, he produced homemade comic books, amateur films, and even short fiction, for which he received scores of rejection letters. Crais decided he needed to head West to achieve whatever writing success he could. In 1976, he arrived in Hollywood and found work almost immediately writing for television—ironic as he did not own a television at the time and learned scriptwriting by watching department store televisions and studying sample scripts. Eventually he worked on landmark law-and-order series, including Baretta, Cagney and Lacey, and Hill Street Blues; a script developed for the latter was nominated for an Emmy.

Given his childhood dream of being a novelist, Crais grew uncomfortable with the collaborative dynamic of television production. It was the sudden death of his father in 1985 that ultimately convinced Crais to try novel writing. His mother, long dependent on his father, was suddenly left vulnerable, a complex dilemma that Crais would treat fictionally in his first novel, The Monkey’s Raincoat (1987), which introduced private investigator Elvis Cole, who helps a distraught wife in her thirties find her husband and son who disappeared after her...

(The entire section is 718 words.)