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. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in September, 2000, and in January, 2001, passed away at age forty-six.
Six weeks before Terri’s death, Ballantine purchased Corbett’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 and 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, and was nominated for an Edgar® Award. His fourth novel, 2010’s Do They Know I’m Running? also garnered widespread praise (“a rich, hard-hitting epic” ~ Publishers Weekly, starred review), was named one of the top ten crime fiction books of 2010 by January Magazine, and was selected as Best Novel—Rising Star Category for the Spinetingler Award.
In 2015, Corbett published both The Mercy of the Night (“Superlative hard-boiled crime fiction with a strong emotional center.” ~ Booklist, starred review) and the novella The Devil Prayed and Darkness Fell (“As always with Corbett, it’s tough, compassionate, and powerfully written.” ~ Vince Keenan, Noir City), both featuring Phelan Tierney, “the St. Jude of the justice system.” Corbett’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 into 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 (where he is a contributing editor), The Writer, Zyzzyva, MovieMaker, Bright Ideas, Crimespree and other outlets.
In October 2014 he remarried. He resides in Northern California with his wife, Mette, and their Wheaten terrier, Hamley.