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Jonathan Wyatt Latimer (October 23, 1906 – June 23, 1983) was an American crime writer noted for his novels and screenplays.


Born in Chicago, Illinois, he attended the Mesa Ranch School in Arizona (1922–25) and later studied at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1929. Latimer became a journalist at the Chicago Herald Examiner and later for the Chicago Tribune, writing about crime and meeting Al Capone and Bugs Moran, among others.[1] In the mid-1930s, he turned to writing fiction, starting with a series of novels featuring private eye William Crane, in which he introduced his typical blend of hardboiled crime fiction and elements of screwball comedy.[citation needed]

During the Second World War Latimer served in the United States Navy. After the war, he moved to California and continued his work as a Hollywood screenwriter, including 10 films in collaboration with director John Farrow.[2]


Latimer died of lung cancer in La Jolla, California on June 23, 1983, aged 76.

Select bibliography

The William Crane series

  • Murder in the Madhouse (1935)
  • Headed for a Hearse (1935)
  • The Lady in the Morgue (1936)
  • The Dead Don't Care (1938)
  • Red Gardenias (1939)

Non-series novels

  • Solomon's Vineyard (1941)
  • Sinners and Shrouds (1955)
  • Black Is the Fashion for Dying (1959)

Non-crime novels

  • The Search for My Great Uncle's Head (1937) (as Peter Coffin)
  • Dark Memory (1940)


  • The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt (1939) (based on a novel by Louis Joseph Vance)
  • Topper Returns (1941) (original screenplay)
  • The Glass Key (1942) (based on the Dashiell Hammett novel)
  • Nocturne (1946)
  • They Won't Believe Me (1947) (based on a story by Gordon McDonell)
  • The Big Clock (1948) (based on the Kenneth Fearing novel)
  • Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948) (based on the Cornell Woolrich novel)
  • Plunder of the Sun (1953) (based on the David F. Dodge novel)
  • The Unholy Wife (1957) (co-authored with William Durkee)
  • The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays (1957) (with Frank Capra)
  • The Unchained Goddess (1958) (with Frank Capra)
  • 32 episodes of the Perry Mason television series
  • The Greenhouse Jungle (from the second season of the Columbo television series, 1972)

See also

  • Hard boiled American crime fiction for a discussion of Solomon's Vineyard, the publication of which was suppressed in the United States for a long time.

External links


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