The Acme Indemnity Op

Created by Jan Dana
Pseudonym of John Frederick Brooks Lawrence

Sssshhhhh…. don’t tell the Hammett folks.

But in 1937, Dime Detective started publishing a series of short stories featuring a nameless hard-boiled, cynical claims investigator who worked for a national insurance agency. No similarity to Hammett‘s very popular and influential hard-boiled, cynical Continental Op, of course, whose final short story had been published only seven years previously in Dime Detective chief rival crime pulp, Black Mask.

Based in New York City, THE ACME INDEMNITY OP (do we ever learn his real name?) nonetheless made his way all over the country, investigating embezzlers, jewel thieves and insurance fraud.

He was a hardboiled lone-wolf investigator whose real name was never revealed. And he was a true company man, identified only by the name of the business he worked for, with an “Op” tagged at the end. His stories were tough and violent, and while they sometimes revealed him to be indecorous or not particularly heroic, he laid them all out in a straightforward, first-person style. He was, however, not the Continental Op.

Credited as the author was the mysterious Jan Dana, whom at least one pulp fan speculated was actually a “she.” It turns out, however, that Dana was actually John Lawrence, a former stockbroker and the creator of numerous other series inthe crime and detective pulps, including private eyes, Cass Blue,  Sam Beckett and Joey Saphir. But Lawrence is probably best known for his tales of the Marquis of Broadway, a hard-boiled NYPD Lieutenant Martin Marquis and his hand-picked Broadway Squad, the “toughest, most vicious cops in pulp-fiction history.”


  • “Riddle of the Rats” (Dec 1937, Dime Detective)
  • “To the Murder Born” (Jan 1938, Dime Detective)
  • “Murder for Not Much” (July 1938, Dime Detective)
  • “Green Eyes for the Corpse” (September 1938, Dime Detective)
  • “The Judas Touch” (January 1939, Dime Detective)
  • “Single Indemnity” (February 1939, Dime Detective)
  • “Moveable Alibi” (May 1939, Dime Detective)
  • “The Second Loop” (July 1939, Dime Detective)
  • “Storm Signal” (September 1939, Dime Detective)
  • “Too Weak to Kill” (November 1939, Dime Detective)
  • “One Vote for Murder” (February 1940, Dime Detective)
  • “The Murder Was a Pleasure” (July 1940, Dime Detective)
  • “Hate Wave” (September 1940, Dime Detective)
  • “Double the Body” (November 1940, Dime Detective)
  • “Postscript to Murder” (February 1941, Dime Detective)
  • “Cheese It — The Corpse!” (April 1941, Dime Detective)
  • “Death in the Center” (August 1941, Dime Detective)
  • “Death with Father” (October 1941, Dime Detective)
  • “The Corpse with Two Left Feet” (December 1941, Dime Detective)
  • “Half a Life” (February 1942, Dime Detective)
  • “Corpse of a Different Killer” (March 1942, Dime Detective)
  • “All Those Men Are Dead” (April 1942, Dime Detective)
  • “The Case of the Meek Millionaire” (June 1942, Dime Detective)
  • “Supercharger” (August 1942, Dime Detective)


  • The Complete Cases of the Acme Indemnity Op, Volume 1 (2020) | Buy this book
    Collects the first six stories in the series. Includes an all-new introduction by John Wooley.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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