Inspector Allhoff

Created by D.L. Champion (1903-68)

"... the unpleasantest detective who ever cracked a homicide case"

--from a July 1938 Dime Mystery blurb

Not quite a P.I., not quite a real cop, INSPECTOR ALLHOFF is actually a member, albeit unofficially, of the NYPD. He works out of a cockroach-infested dump, across the street from headquarters, swilling coffee, refusing to leave the apartment. And he'd prefer it that way. He'd rather work independently of the department, ever since he lost his legs while leading a botched police raid.

Rather than lose a brilliant, if arrogant, detective, the commissioner has set up Allhoff as kind of free-roving, unofficial homicide inspector, and assigned him two other policemen to do his legwork.

And there's the rub: one of the officers assigned to Allhoff is the rookie responsible for the screwed-up raid. Allhoff, bitter, possibly no longer even stable, delights in tormenting young Battersly, who's already wracked with guilt. And the other officer, Simmonds, an older man riding out his pension, is forced to bear witness to Allhoff's nasty psychological warfare.

What seems at first glance to be a rather mean-spirited variation on Nero Wolfe turns out to be an amazing psychological study of possibly the world's first "sadomasochistic detective team." There were twenty-nine stories in the seris in all, regularly published in the pages of Dime Detective from about 1938 until 1946, and despite the rather disturbing relationship between the lead characters, the stories are a blast to read, and some of them are a downright hoot.

Another great part of the fun is that many of the Allhoff stories had him solving that rarest of pulp mag crimes: the locked-room murder. Although a staple of classic, more "traditional" detective fiction, it was a gag rarely used in the pulps. The torrid production pace required of the writer's left little room for the tight, intricate plots and fairly-presented clues demanded of this form. Yet, story after story, Champion managed to pull it off, a further testament to his skill.

Author D'Arcy Lyndon Champion was born in Australia and educated in New York. He served with the British Army in World War I, worked in the merchant marine, and read copy for a slew of magazines, before turning to writing himself. He was also the creator of eccentric skinflint private eye Rex Sackler and Mexican detectivo particular Mariano Mercado.

UNDER OATH

  • "These Inspector Allhoff stories are great detective yarns, mostly developed via lively dialogue between Allhoff and his colleagues, and told in the first person by one of the colleagues. They'll keep you reading and surprise you with unexpected endings."

-- Hugh B. Cave, creator of Peter Kane

  • "(Allhoff) makes Don Rickles look like Mary Poppins... The character is a genius, but tough to take -- no laughs in Purgatory."

-- Bill Kelly

SHORT STORIES

  • "Footprints on a Brain" (July 1938, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead" (September 1938, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Lock the Death House Door!" (December 1938, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Cover the Corpse's Eyes" (July 1939, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Dead and Dumb" (October 1939, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "A Corpse for Christmas" (Deember 1939, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Sergeants Should Never Sleep" (Mar 1940, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Turn in Your Badge!" (June 1940, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "There Was a Crooked Man--" (August 1940, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Suicide in Blue" (October 1940, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "The 10:30 to Sing Sing" (January 1941, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Coffee for a Killer" (April 1941, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "The Corpse That Wasn't There" (October 1941, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "A Bed for the Body" (January 1942, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Tell It to Homicide" (May 1942, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Murder in the Mirror" (July 1942, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "A Leg on Murder" (November 1942, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "You're the Crime in My Coffee" (February 1943, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Thanks for the Ration Card!" (June 1943, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "The Profitable Corpse" (August 1943, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "The Diplomatic Corpse" (September 1943, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Aaron Had a Rod" (November 1943, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "The Day Nobody Died" (February 1944, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Go Home and Die!" (March 1944, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Shake Well Before Dying" (June 1944, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "A Corpse Grows in Brooklyn" (October 1944, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Upstairs to Murder" (February 1945, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Sealed with a Kris" (May 1945, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "One Killer Too Many" (August 1945, Dime Detective Magazine)

COLLECTIONS

LAST WORD

  • "Ah," said Allhoff, who always got the last word, "are you telling me I haven't got a leg to stand on?"

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks, Bill.


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