first ten years in his home town of New Orleans, Louisiana have been
and will remain shrouded in mystery. His first recorded activity
occurred during his eleventh year, when, in the course of his sixth
grade studies at Holy Name of Jesus grammar school, he entered and
won a citywide essay contest sponsored by a local FM classical music
radio station. The subject of the essay was Richard Strauss’s
Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, a symphonic poem about the
wacky adventures of a 14th Century Ashton Kutcher. As a result of
the win, a photo of Dick appeared in the New Orleans Times
Picayune -- on the comic strip page, but IN the paper -- and he was
presented with a Merry Pranks album.
It would be nice to suggest that this exposure to classical music,
in particular to music about a picaresque rogue who traveled from
town to town pranking the pompous and having one hell of a good
time, informed Dick’s outlook on life. Perhaps it did, but the
real significance of the event was his realization that if he put
words on paper in a satisfying way, people gave him things,
hopefully things of a longer lasting nature than an album of four 78
RPM records that was so heavy it slipped from his stubby little
pre-teen fingers and broke on his way home from the radio station.
Regardless, like a compulsive gambler catching that first ace, or an
alcoholic getting his initial whiff of a gin martini, Dick was
hooked on writing. The compulsion carried him through grammar
school, Jesuit High School (where he received a gold medal for short
story) and Tulane University (where he also edited the off-campus
humor magazine, The Urchin, and was awarded the Thilo Von
Kurnitowski gold medal for excellence in editorial writing).
It got him his first fulltime job, penning little one- or two-line
synopses of local television shows in the
Louisiana-Mississippi-Florida editions of TV Guide. It got
him to Chicago and Playboy, where he happily squandered much
of his youth, but also managed to write for the magazine and to
moonlight essays for The Chicago Tribune, The Sun Times and
the Daily News.
Eventually his penchant for the pen took him to Southern California
and a career as an independent journalist, with articles and reviews
appearing in numerous publications, including the Washington
Post, Playboy, TV Guide and Salon Internet Magazine. He
spent several decades as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times,
most recently as a reviewer of crime fiction for which he received
the Ellen Nehr Award for Excellence in Mystery Reviewing. He has
served as a contributing editor and theater critic for Los
Angeles magazine, receiving an Ovation Award from The Los
Angeles Stage Alliance for body of work, the only critic so honored
in the award’s twenty-six year history. Presently, he is a columnist
for Mystery Scene Magazine and a contributor to both the
Los Angeles Times and Publishers Weekly.
As a screenwriter, he has provided scripts for films starring such
actors as David Niven, Roger Moore, Martin Sheen and Jodie Foster.
Shortly after selling his first crime story to Ellery Queen’s
Mystery Magazine, he began his career as a novelist in 1985 with
the publication of the mystery, SLEEPING DOG, which won the Nero
Wolfe Award and was short-listed for the Edgar, Shamus and Anthony
Awards. It also was a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year” and
was selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers of America as
one of the 100 Most Popular Mystery Novels of the Century.
He has published thirteen other crime novels, four of them
co-authored with attorney Christopher Darden and three with the
Today Show’s Al Roker. His current titles are the noir thriller
BLUES IN THE NIGHT and new
trade paperback and eBook editions of his New Orleans crime novels,
BLUE BAYOU and
THE NEON SMILE.
A Los Angeles Times bestselling author, Dick has served as
president of the Private Eye Writers of America and of the American
Crime Writers League. He is also a member of Mystery Writers of
America, P.E.N., National Book Critics Circle, International
Association of Crime Writers, and the Writers Guild of America.
Dick lives in Southern California with his wife and son, enjoying
the sun, sand, surf and occasional earthquake.