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Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by…

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (1991)

by David Simon

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If you’re a fan of The Wire - the greatest show on TV - and you’re jonesing for more of that multilayered urban poetry, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of David Simon’s 1991 narrative nonfiction classic which launched the (lesser) namesake show and The Wire itself. The real stories are here, the real Jay Landsman, McNulty, The Bunk. Snot Boogie, even.

Even if you haven’t seen The Wire - and what are you waiting for - you shouldn’t skip this. It’s easily the best book I’ve read in years: gripping, funny, real, and told with the sort of sober, sincere humor all news should be made of. It’s a police procedural and a what-evil-lurks type of crime book, sure, but it’s fetishistic of only one thing: humanity itself.

(I strongly recommend getting the 2006 Holt edition; it comes with several invaluable afterwords by Simon and Detective Terry McLarney. It’s also much easier to hold and read than the super-cheap paperback which fell apart on me only about 400 pages in.) ( )
  mrgan | Oct 30, 2017 |
This book was long and somewhat slow moving but was a great read due to the fact that it was like it was you were involved in the investigations and they were true stories. Some were pretty gruesome but overall was a good book, if you like that sort of thing. ( )
  ablaze5 | Mar 28, 2017 |
Baltimore police were followed for an entire year, resulting in this nonfiction book. The writing is uneven, and not compelling. I found myself skimming. It's 600+ pages long and only about 250 of them captured my attention. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 29, 2016 |
I don't have anything new to add to the many reviews written about Homicide since it was first written in 1998. So I'll just list my thoughts here

This true crime non fiction book reads like a novel, with the same powerfully moving paragraphs.

It is a police procedural outlining every nuanced incident in the day to day lives of the Baltimore homicide unit

I was previously a fan of the TV series, Homicide and the HBO series, The Wire. I agree with many reviewers that if you're already a fan of these video works, best leave them aside so you can enjoy the fine writing and stop continually looking for parallels. You'll really miss out on the excellent writing that way.

It's easy to lose your way in the maze of detectives and cases, especially when the author veers off to provide context for police reactions and policies by way of previous cases and prior working history of the various detectives. I wished I'd kept a note of the individual cops, their distinguishing characteristics and and their cases for greater clarity.

I didn't feel the material was dated except in the respect of technology and updated forensic techniques. The story of what it takes to break a murder case stands ie intellect, instinct and doggedness above all else. Proficiency in the art of interrogation plays a huge role as well.

A very worthwhile read for me. ( )
  Zumbanista | Sep 15, 2015 |
What a megalith of crime and miserable reality! This book is totally dated now, being from the late 1980s/early 1990s -- full of politically incorrect masculinity and alcoholism -- but wow. Again, I'm kinda new to the journalism in book form genre, but reading this is like an overwhelming assault of information and knowledge on the topic of urban crime in Baltimore. It is really excellent, and takes on all the different aspects of homicide investigation and prosecutions. Everything from evidence, investigation techniques, interrogation, politics, forensics, psychology, prosecutions, trials. Well written and lyrical in places. And perhaps above all else it focuses helpfully on the people, mostly the homicide detectives, but also a range of other people across Baltimore.

I read it as a consequence of watching and loving the HBO TV show which the author David Simon wrote called "The Wire", but found that it wasn't really "the book of the show" so much as being tangentially related. Of course there is a separate show actually based on the book, called Homicide, which I haven't seen.
  seabear | Sep 12, 2015 |
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If a man is found slain, lying in a field in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess, and it is not known who killed him, your elders and judges shall go out and measure the distance from the body to the neighboring towns.

Then the elders of the town nearest the body shall take a heifer that has never been worked and has never work a yoke and lead her down to a valley that has not been plowed or planted and where there is a flowing stream.

There in the valley they are to break the heifer's neck.

The pirests, the sons of Levi, shall step forward, for the Lord your God has chosen them to minister and to pronounce blessings n the name of the Lord and to decide all cases of dispute and assault.

Then all the elders of the town nearest the body shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley and they shall declare:

"Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it done. Accept this atonement for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, O Lord, and do not hold your people guilty of the blood of an innocent man."

Deuteronomy 21:1-9
In contact wounds, the muzzle of the weapon is held against the surface of the body. . .the immediate edges of the entrance are seared by hot gases and blackened by the soot. This is embedded in the seared skin and cannot be completely removed eithe rby washing or vigorous scrubbing of the wound.

Vincent J.M. DiMaio, M.D.,

Gunshot Wounds: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics and Forensic Technique
For Linda
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Pulling one hand from the warmth of a pocket, Jay Landsman squats down to grab the dead man's chin, pushing the head to one side until the wound becomes visible as a small, ovate hole, oozing red and white.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805080759, Paperback)

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."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:15 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"The scene is Baltimore. Twice every three days another citizen is shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned to death. At the center of this hurricane of crime is the city's homicide unit, a small brotherhood of men confronted by the darkest of American visions." "David Simon was the first reporter ever to gain unlimited access to a homicide unit, and his remarkable book is both a compelling account of casework and an investigation into our culture of violence. The narrative follows Donald Worden, a veteran investigator nearing the end of his career; Harry Edgerton, an iconoclastic black detective in a mostly white unit; and Tom Pellegrini, an earnest rookie who takes on the year's most difficult case, the brutal rape and murder of an eleven-year-old girl." "Originally published fifteen years ago, Homicide became the basis for the acclaimed television show of the same name. This new edition - which includes a foreword by Richard Price and a new afterword by David Simon - revives this essential, riveting tale about the men for whom murder is not an extraordinary act but the source of their calling."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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Canongate Books

2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1847673112, 1847673120

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