Inspector Allhoff

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

“… the unpleasantest detective who ever cracked a homicide case”
–from a July 1938 Dime Detective blurb

 Not quite a P.I., not quite a real cop, Dime Detective favourite INSPECTOR ALLHOFF is under contract, albeit unofficially, to the NYPD. He works out of a cockroach-infested dump, across the street from police 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 both his legs while leading a botched 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 two other policemen to do his legwork for him.

And there’s the rub: one of the officers assigned to Allhoff is the rookie responsible for the screwed-up raid. Allhoff, seething with bitterness and resentment (and 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 series 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, amazingly, a blast to read, and some of them are a downright hoot.

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, because the torrid production schedule demanded of pulp writer’s left little room for the tight, intricate plots and fairly-presented clues required. Yet, story after story, Champion managed to pull off these head-scratchers, a further testament to his skill.

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

COLLECTIONS

  • Footprints on a Brain: The Inspector Allhoff Stories (2001) Buy this book
  • The Complete Cases of Inspector Allhoff, Volume One (2014) Buy this book Kindle it
  • The Complete Cases of Inspector Allhoff, Volume Two (2018) Buy this book

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.

Talk to me...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s