Saturday, March 3, 2012

For the past few days I’ve had my nose buried in a thriller – ‘Guilty As Sin’ by a writer previously unknown to me (not surprising when one considers the hundreds and thousands of writers there are – can’t keep up with them all.) Anyway her name is Tami Hoag, she is American and she has written a number of thrillers, one of which ‘Night Sins’ (Ms Hoag has a thing about sin obviously. There is another one called ‘Sarah’s Sin) has been made into a mini-series by CBS. The reason why I’ve been rooted in this novel, all 605 pages of it is because plot-wise it’s great and I had to get to the end to find out how it all finishes. The fact that I had a slight suspicion who the unknown villain was is immaterial. It was only a suspicion, though finally confirmed. Isn’t that what thrillers are all about? The Agatha Christie kind anyway? Having to try and guess the identity of the murderer before you get to the end with a sigh either of frustration or satisfaction.

The book seems to follow the pattern of so much American crime writing (Karen Slaughter for example or John Grishom) in that its cast of characters consists of lawyers, cops, judges, district attorneys and, in this case, a mad professor of psychology and his protégé which makes a change. So okay, so good but why oh why do novelists feel they have to write romantic scenes, love scenes, sex scenes of the most toe curdling kind? Do we really need five pages of what he did to her and her reaction? All it does is hold up the story which, until that moment has been flowing along very nicely thank you. The writing here descends to the banal, the trite, the clichéd even. Leave romantic encounters to the Barbara Cartlands and other romantic novelists of this world and get on with the nitty-gritty. It’s no wonder there is an annual prize for the worst bit of writing on sex. I’m not saying Ms. Hoag’s is the worst but it is certainly boring.

Anyway it hasn’t put me off reading anything else by her so if I come across another title I’ll go for it and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. Just keep off the sex please. Ms. Hoag.

I will continue now though with a couple of real life sex scandals and what never ceases to amaze me is that the victims, if they may be called that, always seem to wait for years and years and years before making their allegations. The story is a veteran assistant coach for Syracuse University's basketball team has been put on administrative leave amid accusations he molested young boys. Bobby Davis, now 39, told sport network ESPN that Bernie Fine molested him repeatedly for 10 years from 1984. See what I mean? We are in 2012 – 28 years have gone by, why has he waited this long? The allegations come after a former Penn State coach, Jerry Sandusky was arrested on charges of sexually abusing young boys - accusations he denies. He says he regrets showering with young boys but denies being a paedophile. We had a master at my school that always showered with the boys but I don’t remember anyone thinking it odd and there were certainly no allegations of sexual impropriety.

Bernie Fine - who has been the assistant basketball coach at Syracuse for 35 years - was accused of abuse by two men, Bobby Davis and his step-brother Mike Lang. Both men said Mr. Fine molested them for multiple years, often reaching into their shorts and rubbing their genitals.

The incidents allegedly occurred both at Mr. Fine's home as well as on the road, including at the 1987 Final Four, the US college basketball tournament. So, if the boys knew their genitals were going to be rubbed, over ten years note, and ten years is a hellava long time to put up with something you object to, why did they go to Mister Fine’s home or hotel room in the first place? Head basketball coach Jim Boeheim defended Mr. Fine, telling ESPN the university had investigated the same allegations in 2005, and concluded they were unfounded. Nevertheless Syracuse police have opened an investigation into the allegations, saying they will interview both Mr. Davis and Mr. Lang. It wouldn’t be the first time, or the last, that teachers have been accused of misconduct and, although it must be true in some cases and serious damage can be done, the accused who are innocent find their careers blighted, their lives ruined by these allegations and I would still like to know why they are made 28 years later. The excuse that ‘we thought no one would believe us’ might be true after one or two episodes but after ten years? This ten years still makes the mind boggle. How old were the boys when the abuse started. Even if as young as seven, and they couldn’t have been much younger, that would make them seventeen when they allege the abuse ended and at seventeen they still said nothing?

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