Maine native and US Army veteran Ovid Demaris (1919-1998) dedicated a majority of his literary work to non-fiction accounts of Mafia operations. Between 1957 and 1988, Demaris also authored a number of crime-fiction novels, two of which were adapted to film - “Hoods Take Over” as the film “Gang War” and “Candyleg” as “Machine Gun McCain”. Based on the author's research on organized crime, it's no surprise to find “The Enforcer” in his published works, a mob-themed crime-noir originally released by Fawcett Gold Medal in 1960 and now available as an affordable reprint through Cutting Edge.
Bender is a ruthless mob enforcer living in a bright and cheery apartment complex in Hollywood. When he's not breaking the legs of debtors and traitors, Bender spends his time with a stripper named Nicki while also lusting over a nearby resident named Eileen. However, the police are on to Bender and have him under investigation for a neighborhood double-homicide. To finalize their case, the police ask Detective Mark Condon to go undercover as a resident at the apartment complex. While it's never really explained what Condon is hoping to discover, readers will forget the story-line due to the narrative's abundant sleaze and sexy oscillation. The apartment complex’s pool is like the porn palace of Los Angeles. Resembling a dirty episode of “Friends”, roommates spend 127-pages attempting to get laid. There's also the sex-starved whacko who observes from afar with one hand on his...windowsill.
“The Enforcer” was my first experience with author Ovid Demaris and by all rights should be the last. I'm a sucker for punishment and unfortunately bought a four-pack of his vintage novels on Ebay. But just to be fair, Demaris may have intended this to be a smutty romance novel and Fawcett just dressed it up to resemble a vengeful crime-fiction offering. Even the book's title may have been something entirely different. We'll never know. But that doesn't dismiss the notion that Demaris is a good author. His fragmented, multilayered narrative has way too many shallow characters. The author spends multiple pages on poolside antics and immature jokes that hinder the pace. Nothing is remarkable, and Demaris doesn't have a story to tell. It's just a random amount of nonsense about young hotheads stripping, dancing and boning.
It goes without saying, but I'll state for the record that “The Enforcer” has joined the Hall of Shame. Avoid this one like a scorching case of California Clap.
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