Robb spent his formative years in Australia and New Zealand, and between 1978 and 1992 he spent most of his time in Naples and southern Italy, interspersed with sojourns in Brazil. At the end of 1992 he returned to Sydney.
His first book, Midnight in Sicily, was published in Australia in October 1996. It won the non-fiction prize of the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, the Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-fiction in 1997.
His second book, M, a biography of the Italian artist Caravaggio, was published in Australia in 1998. The book provoked controversy on its publication in Britain in 2000. In December 1999, he published, Pig's Blood and Other Fluids, a collection of three crime fiction novellas. In October 2003, Robb published his fourth book, A Death in Brazil, which was named The Age's non-fiction book of the year for 2004. In October 2010, his book Street Fight in Naples was published by Allen & Unwin.
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