Richard Montanari was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to a traditional Italian-American family. After university, he travelled extensively in Europe and lived in London, selling clothing in Chelsea and foreign language encyclopedias door-to-door in Hampstead Heath.
Returning to the US, he started working as a freelance writer for The Chicago Tribune, The Detroit Free Press, The Seattle Times, and many others. He wrote his first book in 1996 and it won the OLMA for Best First Mystery. His novels have now been published in more than twenty-five languages.