John Sinclair (German fiction)

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John Sinclair is the name as well as the protagonist of a popular German horror detective fiction series (of the pulp fiction or penny dreadful variety). Sinclair, a Scotland Yard chief inspector, battles all kinds of undead and demonic creatures. The series appears weekly and has been running since 1973. The full title is Geisterjäger John Sinclair, ghosthunter John Sinclair. While falling into the category of 'pulp fiction', the ongoing series is yet remarkable for the relatively wide range of its vocabulary and the inventiveness of its plots.

Almost all John Sinclair stories in the series have been written exclusively by Helmut Rellergerd under the nom-de-plume of Jason Dark. Only a few of the earliest stories have been written by other authors. As of late, creation of new stories is divided among Rellergard and several new authors, each of them writing separate full episodes; the new writers are attributed for their respective stories. Over the decades the Spanish painter Vicenç Badalona Ballestar has created numerous paintings and illustrations for the bestselling series.

Rellergerd narrates the stories in first person from Sinclair's point of view whenever he is involved. At all other times a neutral narrator style is used. In some stories Sinclair does not appear and one of his friends takes the leading part.



  • John Sinclair is of Scottish descent and the reborn soul of both King Solomon and Knight Templar Hector de Valois. He is a direct descendant of Henry I Sinclair, Earl of Orkney. John Sinclair is described as 1.90m tall and blond in his middle thirties. Like most characters he does not age during the course of the series. He is called the Son of the Light and wields an extremely blessed cross as well as a Beretta handgun with silver bullets. He has acquired and lost other weapons during the series.
    Sinclair is a bachelor, never really having a girlfriend during the series. The one time he did fall in love, his fiance turned out to be a trap set by his enemies.
  • Suko is Sinclair's colleague as a Scotland Yard inspector. He is a Chinese proficient in martial arts. As an additional weapon, he carries a whip made from the skin of demon which instantly kills all undead or demonic beings except the strongest. He has no first name, being called just Suko or Inspector Suko.
    Suko was brought up in a Shaolin temple somewhere in China where he learned his martial arts and discipline. Originally the driver of a powerful Chinese patron in London, he joined Sinclair after his patron and the latter's sole daughter were killed by a dragon-worshipping cult.
  • Sir James Powell is the direct superior of Sinclair and Suko. He rarely gets involved directly into the action, mostly giving information and valuable support and cover from his office. Sir James can arrange a lot of things due to his status in society and his connections. He has complete confidence in his team.
  • Glenda Perkins is the office secretary, especially famous for her coffee. She has served as one of several love-interests of Sinclair. During 2006 she was injected with a nano-tech serum enabling her to teleport. At first she could not control her teleport ability, but recently she has begun to master it quite well and is even capable of taking one or two persons with her.
  • Shao is Suko's permanent girlfriend. She is Japanese and the reincarnation of the Japanese Goddess Amaterasu, also known as the Phantom with the Crossbow.
  • Bill Conolly is a close personal friend of Sinclair's. They have studied together and been friends ever since. Bill is a freelance investigative reporter and sometimes gets involved in Sinclair's cases. He married early in the series.[1]
  • Sheila Conolly, née Sheila Hopkins, is the wife of Bill Conolly. Her father was a rich industrialist killed by the demon Sakurro.[1]
  • Johnny Conolly is the only child of Sheila and Bill Conolly, and John Sinclair's godson. He is the only character to age during the series, growing up into a good-looking young man currently attending the University of London. Johnny Conolly occasionally gets involved in Sinclair's cases, much to the dismay of his mother.
  • Jane Collins is a former witch who switched sides during the course of the series. When an agent of Asmodis cut out her heart, she had to have an artificial heart. Collins works as a successful private detective, only occasionally appearing in the series. After the death of Lady Sarah Goodwin, she inherited her Mayfair home and other possessions.
  • Lady Sarah Goldwyn, also called the Horror-Grandma, was a collector of horror books and films as well as antiquarian volumes on magic and the supernatural, making her an expert in the field. She took Jane Collins into her Mayfair home, bequeathing it to her when she was killed by the monster vampires of the Black Death.

Recurring villains[edit]

Most bad guys are destroyed by the end of a novel, but some arch-villains come up quite often against Sinclair until he finds a way to get rid of them permanently. Due to the horror nature of most of the creatures, some return even after being destroyed, most notably Vincent van Akkeren who started mortal and had to be killed 3 times by powers of the light before he stayed dead.

  • Doctor Tod ("Doctor Death") was the first recurring villain. He committed suicide after a lost battle with John Sinclair. Asmodina and the Spook transferred his soul into the body of Mafia godfather Solo Morasso. Sinclair kills him in a later battle.
  • Asmodina was the daughter of the devil Asmodis. Her original shape was Apep, the hell snake. However, her preferred appearance was that of a young, beautiful red headed woman with horns growing out of her forehead. During the series, she commanded Doctor Tod and his killer league. Later, Doctor Tod wanted to be independent and made a deal with the Spook to kill Asmodina. He managed to do so by taking ownership of Sinclair's silver Boomerang and beheaded her in Spook's realm.
  • Der Schwarze Tod ("The Black Death") is another major demon and one of John's enemies. He is defeated in the episode "Das letzte Duell"
  • Will Mallmann: Formerly one of Sinclair's best friends and allies, he was a commissioner in the Bundeskriminalamt, the German Federal Criminal Police Office. During a vampire hunt, however, he was captured by vampires, fatally wounded and forced to drink a distillant from Count Dracula's blood, turning him into both a vampire and Dracula's heir (he bears the official name of "Dracula II"). Will has since plagued his former friend time and again with his scheme to turn the world into a vampire realm. A magical item, the Bloodstone, also makes him immune to any conventional means of destroying vampires.[2]

Weapons and special items[edit]

  • Sinclair's weapon of choice is his blessed Silver Cross, inscribed with the initials of the four archangels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Uriel. This cross is able to take out any but the most powerful of demons. Being fashioned in biblical times by the prophet Ezekiel, it was bequeathed to John Sinclair by divine powers, making him the "Son of Light".
    The Cross violently attacks any evil force it comes into contact with while protecting any good creature. It is a very powerful artifact whose powers are not yet completely understood by Sinclair. He can further activate the cross with the spell 'Terra pestem teneto, salus hic maneto' turning it into an even more powerful area effect weapon.
  • Several characters, mostly Sinclair, Suko, Bill Conolly and Jane Collins, carry a Beretta pistol armed with silver bullets. These bullets are blessed by a Catholic abbot and can vanquish most weaker undead or demonic creatures on impact. Against vampires, air-powered pistols firing wooden darts are also used.
  • Suko's demon-hide whip is made from the skin of a defeated demon. It is more powerful than the silver bullets but less than the silver cross. Suko is an expert at wielding the whip and can take out most creatures with one hit.


Rellergerd never states exactly which Christian denomination John Sinclair or any of his team is a member of. The silver bullets are made by a Catholic abbot, even though most of the team probably belong to a Protestant variant of Christianity. Suko and Shao are Buddhists.

Critical assessment[edit]

There has been some scholarly engagement with the Sinclair novels of Jason Dark, particularly as regards their author's powers of imagination and inventiveness, and a positive assessment has on occasion been expressed. Tony Page comments:

"Jason Dark’s imaginative powers have rightly been praised. Indeed, Godden writes: ‘As regards imagination, Jason Dark towers houses high in superiority above Sherlock Holmes creator, Conan Doyle.’ (Godden, 207: 293). This is eminent praise indeed-and is justly bestowed. The sheer inexhaustible inventiveness which Dark displays week upon week, in novel after novel, is testimony to a fertility of imagination which can rightly lay claim to lie within the realm of genius."[3]


  1. ^ a b Geisterjäger John Sinclair 5, Sakurro der Dämon.
  2. ^ Geisterjäger John Sinclair 569 "Teufel im Leib"
  3. ^ Dr. Tony Page, Jason Dark: German Pulp Fiction Writer of Genius, Bangkok University 2010

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