J. Robert Janes was born in Toronto. He holds degrees in mining and geology, and worked as an engineer, university professor, and textbook author before he began writing fiction. He began his career as a novelist by writing young adult books. In 1985 he began writing for adults, starting with the four-novel Richard Hagen series. He is best known for his St-Cyr and Kohler series, police procedurals set in Nazi-occupied France.