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Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets Mass Market Paperback – January 23, 1993
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This 1992 Edgar Award winner for best fact crime is nothing short of a classic. David Simon, a police reporter for the Baltimore Sun, spent the year 1988 with three homicide squads, accompanying them through all the grim and grisly moments of their work--from first telephone call to final piece of paperwork. The picture that emerges through a masterful accumulation of details is that homicide detectives are a rare breed who seem to thrive on coffee, cigarettes, and persistence, through an endlessly exhausting parade of murder scenes. As the Washington Post writes, "We seem to have an insatiable appetite for police stories.... David Simon's entry is far and away the best, the most readable, the most reliable and relentless of them all.... An eye for the scenes of slaughter and pursuit and an ear for the cadences of cop talk, both business and banter, lend Simon's account the fascination that truth often has."
From Publishers Weekly
Baltimore Sun reporter Simon spent a year tracking the homicide unit of his city's police, following the officers from crime scenes to interrogations to hospital emergency rooms. With empathy, psychological nuance, racy verbatim dialogue and razor-sharp prose, he offers a rare insider's look at the detective's tension-wracked world. Presiding over a score of sleuths is commander Gary D'Addario, "connoisseur of survival" who grapples with political intrigue, massive red tape and "red balls" (major, difficult cases). His detectives include Tom Pelligrini, obsessed with solving the rape-murder of an 11-year-old girl; Rich Garvey, whose "perfect year" is upset by a murder case that collapses in court; and black, cosmopolitan Harry Edgerton, a lone wolf, son of a jazz pianist. This hectic daily log reveals the detective's beat on Baltimore's mean streets (234 murders in 1988) to be brutal, bureaucratic and, occasionally, mundane.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
Top customer reviews
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.
The best part is that, like real life, not all of the storylines get neatly tied off in a bow. Just like life, politics dictates that resources are shifted from one case that has gone cold to the next hot case.
The bits about interrogation are also amazing, tackling interview techniques used by cops, discussion around Miranda warnings and the 5th Amendment, and how cops have to ork around these limitations.
Really awesome stuff. If you have ever been interested in Law & Order, The Wire, Radley Balko, or issues of police brutality or effectiveness, or if you have ever lived in an American city, or in America, I consider this a must-read. Do it!
In case you weren't aware of that, this book is actually the story of one of Baltimore's homicide units in 1988. Simon went around with the detectives for the entire year and have put their stories down in this book.
At times it is quite sad to read about the brutal atrocities that people are committing against each other. At times it is satisfying to read about the detectives tracking down or lucking in to catching those responsible for the many deaths. But it is always engrossing and fascinating to follow the process and the people involved in one of the uglier jobs possible. This book is a must for any fan of police stories, criminal investigations or anything related to law and order. And in case you further didn't realize it, this book was the basis for the tv show of the same name. It makes the show even scarier to know that not only is it based on real life, but many of the stories from the show are taken straight out of the book. If you were a fan of the show, you will easily recognize many of the exact same cases here in the book. (Or rather vice versa since the book was first.) Easily one of the best books that I've read in a while!
Watch the HBO series The Wire to see many of the real people in the book portrayed.