Crais was born in Louisiana in 1953. He moved to California in 1976,
where he worked in the television industry for more than a decade.
Crais was drawn to crime fiction when he was a teenager, and began
writing short fiction. However, his first work as a writer was in
television. He wrote for a number of crime dramas, including Hill Street
Blues, for which he received an Emmy nomination. He also worked on Miami
Vice and Cagney & Lacey.
Crais also worked on the scripts of made-for-television movies. He wrote
Cross of Fire, a 1989 miniseries about the rape and murder of a
schoolteacher by a Ku Klux Klan leader.
In the mid-1980s, Crais began work on his first novel, The Monkey’s
Raincoat, which was published in 1987. The book launched his Elvis Cole
series, and was soon followed by Stalking the Angel and Lullaby Town.
The Elvis Cole series, currently made up of fifteen titles, has earned
Crais many awards and award nominations. His 1996 novel, Sunset Express,
was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 1996.
Crais’ novels are also notable in the way they have incorporated real
events. Sunset Express was inspired in part by the O.J. Simpson murder
trial. In Free Fall, his 1993 novel, the Los Angeles riots and the
Rodney King case are reflected.
In addition to his Elvis Cole novels, Crais has written three non-series
novels. One of these, Hostage, was adapted for film and was a New York
Times Book Review Notable Book.