Harrison is the author of seven novels: Break and Enter (1990), Bodies Electric (1993), Manhattan Nocturne (1996), Afterburn (2000), The Havana Room (2004), The Finder (2008), and Risk (2009), which was first published as a fifteen-part serial in The New York Times magazine in 2008. Four of his books were selected as Notable Books by The New York Times Book Review. All are atmospheric novels of violence and suspense that explore the underside of city life, most particularly in New New York
Although his novels invariably involve the money and power that is concentrated in Manhattan, his stories usually snake through the boroughs outside Manhattan as well, in particular through Brooklyn, which has served as a setting for scenes in Bodies Electric (Park Slope and Sunset Park), Manhattan Nocturne (East New York), The Finder (Marine Park, Bensonhurst) and Risk (Canarsie).
A movie version of "Manhattan Nocturne," directed by Brian DeCubellis and titled "City of Night," is scheduled for release in 2016. The movie stars Adrien Brody, Campbell Scott, Jennifer Beals, and others
His short nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Vogue, Salon, Worth, and other publications and anthologies. He was an editor at Harper"s Magazine from 1989 until 2001 and in that time worked with such writers as David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Jane Smiley, Russell Banks, Michael Paternite, Lucy Grealy, Thom Jones, Scott Anderson, Sebastian Junger, Ken Kalfus, Verlyn Klinkenborg, Barbara Ehrenreich, Charles Bowden, Joy Williams, David Quammen, William H. Gass, Joe Conason, David Guterson, Bob Shacochis, Joyce Carol Oates, Lewis Lapham, and many others
In 2001 he was appointed senior editor at Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, where he edits both fiction and non-fiction.
In 2013, he became Scribner"s editor-in-chief Among the many writers he has worked there with are Anthony Swofford, Jeff Hobbs, Jason Matthews, Nic Pizzolatto, Helen Thorpe, Ted Fishman, Kem Nunn, John Dalton, Greg Iles, Bruce Weber, Craig Unger, Steven Johnson, Alexandra Horowitz, Rick Perlstein, Carol Sklenicka, Linda Fairstein, Robert Ferrigno, Daniel Okrent, Doug Stanton, South.G. Gwynne, and Chuck Hogan. Harrison attended the University of Iowa Writers" Workshop (Master of Fine Arts, 1986), Haverford College (Bachelor, 1982), and Westtown School (1978), a coeducational Quaker boarding school, where his father, Earl Harrison, was headmaster.