Barbara Parker was born in Columbia, South Carolina and grew up in western North Carolina before moving with her family to Florida. She attended the University of South Florida, majoring in theatre arts, then graduated from the University of Miami School of Law. She became a prosecutor in the office of the Florida State Attorney before establishing her own independent legal practice. To spend more time with her son, she quit her law practice and took a job as a paralegal, while developing her writing career. She took courses at Florida International University, where her master's degree thesis became the genesis for her first novel, Suspicion of Innocence (1994). It was a finalist for the Edgar Award for best first mystery novel by an American author and was adapted into a television film called Sisters and Other Strangers. She went on to write a total of 12 novels in her "Suspicion" series revolving around Miami lawyers Gail Connor and Anthony Quintana, some of which became bestsellers. She served on the national board of the Mystery Writers of America and was the chair of its membership committee for two years.