A famous and prolific writer of detective stories comes to life in this objective and thorough biography, written by a daughter-in-law. His was an extraordinary story, that of a bastard child of a third rate vaudeville actress, brought up by a haphazard family in the London slums. His schooling continued to his fourteenth year, and then began a seesaw career of odd jobs. Then followed years in the army, the meeting with the girl who later became his wife, and the beginnings of his career as a reporter. The Boer War gave him his chance, but his was a life of ups and downs, from bankruptcy to lavish extravagance on the racetracks, with shifting background from England to South Africa to Canada to the Congo -- finally back to London. A second marriage began the second period of 27 years of frenzied output. He spread his genius over multiple activities, a life of relentless acceleration, instability and abounding vigor. Wallace fans will be intrigued by the analysis of his methods of work. Readers of literary biography will not find this a conventional literary memoir, but rather the story of a man of action.