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"Homicide" A Great Book That Inspired Even Greater TV
on August 27, 2016
In the opening scene of the classic HBO series "The Wire" a Baltimore homicide detective interviews the witness to a seemingly senseless murder of a teenager in the street and wants to know why the victim's street name was "Snot Boogie" and why he was shot. Reading "The Wire" producer David Simon's journal of a year spent with the Baltimore homicide department when he was a crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun, I was certain that scene was so real it had to be in the book somewhere. And it was, toward the end.
Simon was attuned to life on the gritty, city streets of Baltimore with an ear for the argot unlike any other producer of a TV crime show or crime writer. It showed in the TV series "Homicide: Life on the Streets," "The Corner," and lastly his masterpiece, "The Wire," and it shows in this pull-no-punches book. The senseless killings, the frustration of the detectives when confronted with a stone-cold "who-dun-it" they knew would never get solved, the anger when obviously guilty people they had arrested went free after trial ... it's all here, and more. As I read this book, I could see the models for the characters who appeared in the TV shows (I didn't even need to see the photos of the actors playing these models to figure out who they were) being developed. It isn't easy to make non-fiction a gripping read, but David Simon makes it look easy.