Born in Chicago, Illinois, Jonathan Wyatt Latimer (1906-1983) attended school in Arizona and college in Illinois. He was a reporter at the Chicago Herald Examiner and, later, the Chicago Tribune, where he wrote crime and met Al Capone and Bugs Moran. He began writing fiction in the mid-1930s, and his early novels were hardboiled screwball comedies - among the first of their kind - which follow the exploits of hard-drinking yet surprisingly successful private eye, Bill Crane. Later he turned to an altogether darker style, to such an extent that his masterpiece, Solomon's Vineyard, was suppressed for years in the United States and only published in unexpurgated form in the early 1980s. Latimer served in the United States Navy during World War Two, after which he moved to California and worked as a Hollywood screenwriter on shows such as Perry Mason and Columbo. He died of lung cancer in La Jolla, California.