For fifteen years, David Corbett worked for the San Francisco private investigation firm of Palladino & Sutherland, and played a significant part in a number of high-profile criminal and civil litigations, including the Lincoln Savings & Loan Case, The DeLorean Trial, the Coronado Company marijuana indictments, The Cotton Club Murder Case, The People’s Temple Trial, the first Michael Jackson child molestation case, and a RICO civil litigation brought by the Teamsters against former union leaders associated with organized crime—as well as numerous other drug, murder, and fraud cases.
In 1995, he eased out of private investigation work to serve as office manager and “Man Friday” for his wife, Terri, as she launched her own law practice, specializing in probate litigation, estate planning, and small business law. (For more on Terri, see Cesidia on this website.) She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in September, 2000, and in January, 2001, passed away at age 46.
Six weeks before Terri’s death, Ballantine purchased David’s first novel, The Devil’s Redhead. Widely praised, it was nominated for both the Anthony and Barry Awards for Best First Novel of 2002.
His follow-up, Done for a Dime,was also broadly acclaimed (“the best in contemporary crime fiction … one of the three or four best American crime novels I’ve ever read.”—The Washington Post), was named a New York Times Notable Book, and was nominated for the Macavity Award for Best Novel of 2003.
His third novel, 2007’s Blood of Paradise, was compared to the work of Graham Greene and Robert Stone, was chosen by Admiral James Stavridis, then Commander of the US Southern Command, for the SOUTHCOM reading list. It was also selected one of the Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers of 2007 by The Washington Post.
His fourth novel, 2010’s Do They Know I’m Running?, instantly garnered widespread praise, and was selected as Best Novel—Rising Star Category for the Spinetingler Award.
This past year, David has published both his fifth novel, The Mercy of the Night (“Superlative hard-boiled crime fiction with a strong emotional center.” — Booklist, Starred Review), and a novella featuring the same male protagonist, Phelan Tierney, titled The Devil Prayed and Darkness Fell.
David’s short fiction has also been widely praised, with stories appearing twice in Best American Mystery Stories, and another, “It Can Happen” from San Francisco Noir, nominated for the Macavity Award for Best Short Story of 2005. He also contributed chapters to The Chopin Manuscript and The Copper Bracelet, serial audio thrillers that now have been combined in a single hard cover version titled Watchlist.
In 2013 he published his writing guide The Art of Character, which national bestseller Elizabeth Brundage called “a writer’s bible that will lead to your character’s soul.” He teaches and gives seminars and workshops at conferences throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico; he’s a regular contributor to the writers’ blog Writer Unboxed; and his articles on craft and theory have appeared in the New York Times, Narrative, Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Zyzzyva, MovieMaker, Bright Ideas, Crimespree and other outlets.