Jack Olsen, 77, a former sheriff's deputy and journalist who won awards for his true-crime novels, died after suffering a heart attack at his island home near Seattle.
Mr. Olsen wrote 31 books on topics ranging from sports to the problems troubling society and had recently finished the first part of a trilogy about his childhood years, said his wife, Su Olsen.
She found him dead at their Bainbridge Island, Wash., home Tuesday.
Mr. Olsen, a former sheriff's deputy in Gilpin County, Colo., disdained fictionalized crime writing, preferring instead to stick to the facts as he uncovered them through research and interviews.
"He took true-crime writing to new levels," said Steve Weinberg, a former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a nonprofit organization for investigative reporting.
Mr. Olsen, who also had written for magazines including Time, Vanity Fair, Life and Sports Illustrated, was known for getting subjects to talk and for plumbing the psychological and sociopathological depths of killers, rapists and other criminals.
Olsen's account of a serial rapist in Wyoming, Doc: The Rape of the Town of Lovell, won a 1990 Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America.