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David Levein Books In Order

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Publication Order of Frank Behr Books

City of the Sun (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Where the Dead Lay (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Thirteen Million Dollar Pop / The Contract (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Signature Kill (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Standalone Plays

Aside from being a novelist, David Levien is also hailed as a screenwriter, producer, and director. He is best known for the movies he has written (Ocean’s Thirteen, and Rounders), and films he has produced (The Illusionist, and The Lucky Ones). Most of his projects in the world of film are done in partnership with his best friend, Brian Koppelman. Both he and Koppelman have also produced the television series “The Street Lawyer” (2003) and “Tilt” (2005), which he also write and directed. As a novelist, Levien’s works include the Franz Behr series and a few standalone novels. Many of his works, both on the screen or on the written page, have been widely acclaimed and were awarded numerous prizes.

Little is known about his life when he was a child, but Levien was born in New York around 1971. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he spent 3 years in Los Angeles working in the film industry. After this stint, Levien began to write his own screenplays. He has said that he sometimes spends a few months each year working on a project in Los Angeles.


David Levien met his best friend and lifelong partner in films, Brian Koppelman, on a summer trip when they were teenagers. They constantly kept in touch in spite of the differences in what they were pursuing: Koppelman was working his way through the music business and Levien was concentrating on his first novel. They were in their early twenties when one day Koppelman expressed that he wanted to write a screenplay. Levien, with his experience as a script reader in LA, thought it was a good idea and proposed that the two of them collaborate on the project. After visiting numerous casinos and getting into the world of poker, both friends were able to come up with the screenplay for “Rounders” (1998), their first movie starring Edward Norton and Matt Damon.

Levien attributes his success in collaborating films with Koppelman to the fact that they knew each other for so long, watching almost the same movies and reading the same books. This similarity in their preferences for story material fueled their creative synergy which led to a natural collaboration in their work.

In the films “The Illusionist” (2006) and “Interview with the Assassin” (2002) Levien collaborated with Neil Burger, also a Greenwich resident. Burger had met the Levien-Koppelman duo and told them about a script he had been going over in his head. Since the duo thought it had great potential, they agreed to shoot the film on a tight budget. The film however was widely acclaimed. The three made one more collaboration in the film “The Lucky Ones” (2008) where Burger was the director.

David Levien has confessed that among his works in the film industry, he is most proud of “Rounders” (which cemented his status as a solid scriptwriter in Hollywood and gained a cult following), “Ocean’s Thirteen”, “The Illusionist”, and “Solitary Man”.


Levien’s first novel, “Wormwood”, was published in 1999. The novel is somehow a commentary on Hollywood, and is obviously drawn from the author’s firsthand experiences in the film industry. The story centers around Nathan Pitch, a man who works in a movie studio and is plodding his way towards becoming the head story editor. Pitch is swept away into a world of work 24/7, and soon begins to detest even recreational nights, which apparently are part of the job. He loses his idealism, becomes addicted to absinthe, but an encounter with a novel leads his to start disrupting the system. Levien illustrates how the naturally talented Pitch starts to get eaten up by the system of “Wormwood”, which is the name he uses instead of “Hollywood”.

Another standalone novels written by the author is “Swagbelly: A Novel for Today’s Gentleman” published in 2003. Swagbelly is another satirical tale, about Elliot Gruber who is a wealthy pornographer in search of a normal life.

When Levien was in his 30s, he felt that he wanted to write a crime novel. Since childhood he had been reading stories on child abductions. Some of the most influential crime fiction writers for Levien were Cormack McCarthy, Donald Westlake, Chandler and Hammett, and Lawrence Block to name a few. Eventually, he decided that he wanted to come up with his own spin to the crime fiction genre. He then conceived his main character: a retired, enigmatic former cop with a mysterious past. This was how the Franz Behr series came to life.

The first Franz Behr book, City of the Sun, was released in 2008 and told the story of a 12-year-old boy who disappeared without a trace one day. When the boy’s parents had almost lost all hope in the police force, they turn to the retired detective Franz Behr as their last hope. Behr, who has been battling his own personal demons, agrees to help them look for their missing son.

Due to the success of the first novel in this series, Levien published a second book in 2009, featuring the same detective. Entitled “Where the Dead Lay”, this sequel leads Franz Behr into a more personal tale. His friend and mentor has been brutally murdered and before he can carry out his intent to retaliate, he is requested by the police to investigate two other deaths: both victims were also police officers. Behr gets swept into another world, a deeper and darker side of the city, where he faces a new kind of crime.

The third Franz Behr novel is known in the US as “Thirteen Million Dollar Pop” but was published in the UK as “The Contract”. The book was released in 2011 in the US and 2012 in the UK. Franz Behr now works for a private investigation firm and is hired as the bodyguard of a huge business mogul. When an attack on Behr’s client ensues, he is able to deflect the attack and is celebrated as a protector. However, Behr is driven to investigate the incident further and once again the readers are swept into the dark underground world of Indianapolis.

Levien has said that among his novels, he is most proud of the Franz Behr series. The novels have also been received well by readers.

David Levien currently works in New York and works simultaneously on projects for films, and on his novels. He lives in Greenwich, Connecticut with his wife Melissa and their three young sons.

Book Series In Order » Authors » David Levein

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