Jason Starr was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up, he enjoyed sports such as baseball, tennis, and horse racing, but didn't have much interest in literature. He began writing plays and fiction in college at Binghamton University. Starr is known for his satirical urban crime novels, set mainly in the New York City area. When asked why (until The Pack) he wrote standalone novels and didn't rely on a series character he said, "New York City is my series character."
In the 1990s, Starr had several plays performed at Off-Off Broadway theater companies in New York. In 1997, Starr's first crime novel, Cold Caller, was published by No Exit Press in the U.K. In 1998, upon its American publication by W.W. Norton, Cold Caller was selected as a Publisher's Weekly First Fiction pick and was hailed by Kirkus Reviews as "just the thing for fans who miss the acid noir that Jim Thompson dispensed in The Grifters." The French edition of Cold Caller was selected as the official gift of the prestigious 813 book group. In the critical work Twentieth Century Crime Fiction, (Oxford University Press, 2005), author Lee Horsley selected Cold Caller as one of the basic texts for discussion.
Starr's second novel, Nothing Personal, about a compulsive gambler who hatches a sick kidnapping plot to pay off debts, was hailed as the best novel of the year by Bookends. Starr's third novel, Fake I.D., concerns a bouncer's desperate attempts to join a horse-owning syndicate. His fourth novel, Hard Feelings, about a computer networking salesman, trying to do deal with a horror from his past, was a "Penzler Pick" and the first ever original novel published by the prestigious American publisher, Vintage Crime/Black Lizard.
Tough Luck, Starr's fifth novel, about a young guy in Brooklyn who gets in deep with a mob figure, was an Anthony Award finalist and won the Barry Award for best paperback. Starr's sixth novel, Twisted City, about the devastating consequences a financial journalist faces when he attempts to recover a stolen wallet, was a Barry Award finalist and an Anthony Award winner. In 2006, Starr's novel Lights Out, a tale of jealousy and murder set in Brooklyn, was first published by St. Martin's Press in the U.S. and Orion in the U.K. It was hailed as one of the best crime novels of the year by Barnes and Noble.com and Bookreporter.com. Also in 2006, the heralded American pulp publisher Hard Case Crime, published Bust, a crime novel that Starr wrote with Irish novelist Ken Bruen (BUST was an IMBA bestseller). That same year, Vintage Books published a collection of stories and essays on horse racing called Bloodlines: A Horse Racing Anthology, which Starr co-edited with Maggie Estep.
In 2007, Starr's thriller The Follower, called "this generation's Looking for Mr. Goodbar" by the New York Post, was first published by St. Martin's Press and Orion Books. TV/Film rights for The Follower were purchased by Lionsgate with Bret Easton Ells attached as writer/creator. Also in 2007, Hard Case Crime publishedSlide, a second novel co-authored by Starr and Ken Bruen. In 2008, Starr and Bruen's third novel, The Max was published in what became known as "The Bust Trilogy."
Panic Attack, Starr's thriller about the aftermath of a shooting in suburban New York City, was published in 2009 by St. Martin's Press. The German/ Diogenes Verlag edition (Panik) was a major bestseller in Austria. It was optioned by David Fincher's production company Panic Pictures with Ocean's Eleven scribe Ted Griffin adapting.
In 2010, Starr's first graphic novel, The Chill, was published by Vertigo Crime, with art by Mick Bertilorenzi. Starr also wrote many comics for DC Comics (Justice, Inc.). In 2011, The Chill won the Anthony Award for Best Graphic Novel, making Starr one of only nine writers who have won multiple Anthony Awards.
In 2011, Penguin/Ace published Starr's The Pack, the first book in a new modern day werewolf series set mainly in the New York City area. The second book in the series, The Craving, was published by Penguin in June 2012.
Starr's prose novel Ant-Man: Natural Enemy was published by Marvel in July 2015, to coincide with the blockbuster Ant-Man feature film. In October 2015, Starr's novel Savage Lane was published by Polis Books. Polis has also re-issued many of Starr's novels in new editions.
Starr has also become a prolific writers of comics and graphic novels, writing original works such as The Chill, as well as working on iconic characters such as Batman, Doc Savage, The Avenger, The Sandman for DC Comics and The Punisher and Wolverine Marvel Comics. The Chill won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best Graphic Novel. In October, 2012 Marvel launched its new ongoing series Wolverine Max, written by Starr with art by Roland Boschi. Starr's original comic The Returning launches from BOOM Studios! in March, 2014, with art by Andrea Mutti (The Executor, Star Wars, Noir).
Starr's work has been published in nine languages, including in Germany by Diogenes Verlag. Top Job (the German edition of Cold Caller) was adapted as an hour-long radio drama by Deutschland Radio, and was recently chosen as one of the top 50 novels of the past 60 years by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. As a result, in 2006 a new hardcover edition of Top Job was published as part of a popular series of crime novels (SZ Krimibibliothek) by Süddeutsche Zeitung.
- 1998 – Cold Caller – ISBN 0393317676
- 2000 – Nothing Personal – ISBN 1568581610
- 2000 – Fake I.D. – ISBN 1901982831
- 2002 – Hard Feelings – ISBN 0375727094
- 2003 – Tough Luck – ISBN 0375727116
(finalist 2004 Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original)
- 2004 – Twisted City – ISBN 1400075068
(winner 2005 Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original)
- 2006 – Lights Out – ISBN 978-0312359720
- 2007 – The Follower – ISBN 978-0312359744
- 2009 – Panic Attack – ISBN 978-0312387068
- 2011 – The Pack – ISBN 978-0441020089
- 2012 – The Craving – ISBN 978-1937007553
- 2015 - Ant-Man: Natural Enemy - ISBN 978-0785193234
- 2015 - Savage Lane - ISBN 978-1940610641
Novels (co-written with Ken Bruen)
- 2006 – Bust – ISBN 978-0843955910
- 2007 – Slide – ISBN 978-0843957761
(finalist 2008 Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original)
- 2008 – The Max – ISBN 978-0843959666
- 2016 - PIMP - ISBN 978-1783295692
- 2010 – The Chill – ISBN 978-1401212865
(winner 2011 Anthony Award for Best Graphic Novel)
- 2015 - The Returning - ISBN 978-1-60886-493-5
- 2009–2010 – Justice, Inc.. (in Doc Savage issues 1-9, DC Comics)
- 2010 – Sand (in JSA 80 Page Giant issue, DC Comics)
- 2011 – First Wave Special #1 (featuring The Avenger, Doc Savage, Batman; DC Comics)
- 2012 – Punisher Max (Special, Marvel Comics)
- 2012–2014 – Wolverine Max(issues 1-15; Marvel Comics)
- 2014 – The Returning (Boom Comics)
- 2006 – Bloodlines: An Anthology of Horse Racing (co-editor Maggie Estep) – ISBN 1400096952
- 2016 – Serial Killer (co-editor Chantelle Aimee Osman)
Film / TV
- 2010 – The Bully (short film) based on the short story by Jason Starr.
- 2016 – Cold Caller adapted by Starr and Clayton Jacobson, based on the novel by Starr, directed by Clayton Jacobson.
- 2016 – Twisted City adapted by John David Coles and Mark Malone, based on the novel by Starr, directed by John David Coles.
- 2016 - Lights Out adapted for film by Zadig Productions (France).
- 2017 - The Returning, produced by BOOM! Studios, directed by Diedrik Van Rooijen (The Birds)