Adam's Reviews > The Enforcer

The Enforcer by Wesley Morgan
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's review
Mar 20, 09

it was ok
bookshelves: novelizations-and-media-tie-ins, crime-fiction
Read in March, 2009

I just finished reading this. I only remember the last 10 pages, so I'll review them.

There are so many things I find easier to swallow in movies than in books. The Enforcer has never been my favorite Dirty Harry movie (it's a tie between the first two), but it's competent entertainment, and the denouement, in which Inspector Harry "Dirty Harry" Callahan and his partner, Inspector Kate Moore, save the mayor of San Francisco from a bunch of militant punks who are holding him hostage on the island of Alcatraz, is as good a way to end the picture as any other.

When written in book form, however, its ridiculousness becomes much more apparent. Harry, armed with a six-shot .44 Magnum, and Kate, armed with a service revolver, go up against four men, each of whom is armed with a fully automatic AR-15. This would be fine if some sort of stealth were involved, but Harry stages a frontal assault on the island. He doesn't even have much a plan. According to Wesley Morgan, the credited writer for this novelization, he looked at maps of the island while in the fireboat that dropped him off.

Novelizations are a disposable medium, but very often they're not nearly as bad as they could be, and the writers who made a buck writing them gussy up the action so that characters have internal lives and motivations not implicit in the film version. And very often the writers take pains to stage action scenes that actually make more sense than the versions that made it to the screen. Not so with Morgan. He's content to recite the action in roughly the same way a child will who's seen a film and is describing its action verbatim to classmates. Also like a child, Morgan pads his book report. The first page and a half of the last chapter, which immediately follow the scene in which Harry finds out where the mayor is being held, grind the action to a screeching halt with a brief history of Alcatraz island. Did you know that the Spanish discovered the island in 1775, and named it Isla de los Alcatraces, which means "Island of the Pelicans"? Or that in the '70s, Indian activists occupied the island? Yeah, so did I. I took the tour when I was in San Francisco. Now stop wasting my time and get to the scene where Dirty Harry blows up the last bad guy with a LAW rocket.
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03/05/2009 page 14
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