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Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets Hardcover – Jun 1991

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 599 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (T) (June 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039548829X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395488294
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 16.5 x 23.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 726 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #569,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

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." --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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.

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By Scoopriches TOP 500 REVIEWER on Sept. 7 2012
Format: Paperback
One of the principle rules of any society is to not kill another. Ancient religions and governments preach and rule against it. It seems like a natural impulse we can all collectively abide by.

But we don't.

This breaking of a societal covenant happens everyday, every hour, and every minute somewhere around this little blue marble we all call home. Many thoughts have been spent trying to understand this phenomenon, which seems unique to our human race among all the species present here. One book does delves into the how, why, and wherefores of this most heinous crime.

This treatise on murder is a thick tome called Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets, a massive 646 page volume jam packed with facts, thoughts, truths, and skullduggery. And that is on both sides of the law. During a newspaper strike in 1987, Baltimore Sun police reporter David Simon wanted to kickstart a pet project of his. He sought unfettered access to the Baltimore Homicide Squad for a full year, and despite some objections inside the unit, the brass rubberstamped the idea. Simon began 1988 trailing detectives around all aspects of their job. Crime scenes, autopsies, interrogations, deliberations, and arrests all became fodder for this tale. Throw in a huge whack of inter-office and inter-department politics, and you have a true dramatic tale of Shakespearean proportions.

Simon finished his time studying the unit, then proceeded to spend the next two years pulling the narrative threads together. One particular murder, a brutal unsolved killing of a precious little girl named Latonya Kim Wallace, became the backbone of the book. Evidence and suspects are gathered by the diligence detectives, feverishly working the case, but to no avail.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is an excellent book! The characters in it are engaging. The dialogue is wonderful. And the situations are both scary and amazing: amazing in how so stupid some people are and how little it takes for someone to kill someone else, scary because it is all true.
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!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A fan of the TV show that was based on this book, I decided to read the book. I was satisfied in many ways but disappointed in some. This book, first of all, is superb journalism. Simon has guts to do what he did--go inside a major urban homicide department and live the life of a detective for a year. Guts because of the sensivity required to deal with the people involved: the detectives, the police department and the city government, the victims and the families, the witnesses and the suspects. Guts because of the horrible nature of the job of a homicide detective, dealing every day with death. Simon does an excellent job describing the nature of the detectives' jobs and the events of the year he chronicles, while remaining for the most part even-handed in his treatment. He does tend to favor the detectives' point of view (not that they get off easy by any means), but that can be explained by the fact that they are the primary focus of the book and that the suspects and victims were rarely willing participants in the process.
This book covers the city of Baltimore, which is about an hour's drive from where I live. It describes the dark underbelly of the city, something most of us thankfully never see. When I go to Baltimore, I see a living, functioning city. From this book I learned that there a whole dimention to the city that I, again thankfully, know nothing about. I find it in a way shocking that the horrible crimes that Simon describes take place not in some far-off location, but basically in my own backyard, involving people I could possible bump into on the street. I do not generally suspect the worst about people, so to read about the things people are capable of doing to each other, in my own country, in my own state, is mind-blowing.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this amazing true account, David Simon follows one shift of Baltimore's homicide detectives for one year. As a passive observer, he followed them from the crime scene to the emergency rooms, to the medical examiner's office, to the victims' homes and the courtroom. He has a real eye for details and he has an incredible knack for picking up dialogue and personality of individuals. I didn't notice till almost the end of the book that he wrote the entire book in present tense. This well-thought out move made the book that much more real and intense.
I had real misconceptions about this book before I read it. I thought it was all about killing and the gore of killing. As a female in my 20's, this was not a book I would have reached for on my own. Had my husband not insisted, I would not have read it and now I can't praise it enough and I would recommend it to everyone who cares about their society, everyone who wants to experience the amazing lives of people they would otherwise never know.
Read it for the writing, the superb organization, the accessible language, the incredible details. David Simon is an excellent writer and journalist. This book was long, but it was never boring because David Simon experimented with it. Sometimes he wrote from the detectives' point of perspective, sometimes the victims', sometimes the criminals themselves and sometimes from his own. He really captured Baltimore in the late 80s with his keen observation and perception of what is relevant. Some of the stories he covered are crazy, if it didn't say in large print that this was all true, I would not believe it.
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