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"Law & Order" In Memory Of (1991)

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

murder will out.

Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA
3 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Workers refurbishing a building uncover the 30-year-old remains of a young boy behind a brick wall in the basement. It's up to the detectives to identify the victim and, if possible, find his killer. Pretty unusual premise, but then it turns a bit into one of those Sherlock Holmes trails full of lucky coincidences. The body has long been skeletonized but in addition to its bashed-in skull, the detectives find an unusual button on the remnants of the victim's blue blazer. Holmes used to find traces of a rare trichinopoly tobacco used by the murderer. This particular button is out of production, very expensive, and sold only to a select and small clientèle.

It leads through various meanders to a now-elderly couple who lived in the building at the time of the murder. It becomes apparent that the husband had an attraction towards young boys and, in a panic, killed this one and hid the body. The problem is the absence of any real evidence except the eyewitness testimony of the man's daughter. She saw him washing a bloody sweater the night of the murder. Her memory has been repressed for lo these many years and she's spent some time in a psychiatric facility. She hates her father and refuses to get involved.

It's an interesting episode in that it deals with a cold case and it raises interesting questions about "repressed memories" from childhood which, we now know, has probably caused more damage than they've done good. The writers never face the question head on. It's treated as a minor, ancillary consideration. But I don't know why. It was around this time, the early 90s, that the McMartin Pre School trial was held and dozens of other child care facilities were attacked, their staff convicted and imprisoned, in what students of collective behavior call a "moral panic." This issue is even more complicated than the decades-old murder of a young boy by a child molester, yet the writers choose not to go in that direction, and the problem of childhood memories is dismissed with a snap of the fingers. Repressed childhood memories are true, according to this story, and that's all there is to it. However, sometimes a trichinopoly cigar is just a trichinopoly cigar.

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