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.
-- Hugh B. Cave, creator of Peter Kane
-- Bill Kelly
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks, Bill.
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