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Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets [Hardcover]

David Simon
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1991
From the creator of HBO's The Wire, the classic book about homicide investigation that became the basis for the hit television show

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 hard men who fight for whatever justice is possible in a deadly world.

David Simon was the first reporter ever to gain unlimited access to a homicide unit, and this electrifying book tells the true story of a year on the violent streets of an American city. The narrative follows Donald Worden, a veteran investigator; Harry Edgerton, a 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 new introduction, an afterword, and photographs--revives this classic, riveting tale about the men who work on the dark side of the American experience.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars David Simon is King Feb. 20 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
David Simon writes pretty better than pretty much anybody. If he wrote an annotated phone book, I'd buy that, too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book Ever Feb. 15 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have watched ever show associated with this book, Homicide Life on the Streets, The Wire and The Corner. All so damn fantastic. How could i not love the book. Thank you David Simon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Homicide: A Review Of The Killing Streets Sept. 7 2012
By Scoopriches TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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5.0 out of 5 stars A good learning experience Dec 21 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After watching (alas) the complete television episodes, venturing the book was an experiene on its own. Although the characters are the main focus of both television drama and the book, the latter provides more insight (i.e., the 10 rules, trade insight and various quotes). It provides a good "reality check" to the reader about humans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Always compared against May 18 2008
I first became interested in this book through the television show, but what an absolute gem to find: funny, in-depth and provides a close look at the human element behind police work that isn't often exlored in today's journalism. Five out of five, definitely one of my top books of all time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Aug. 16 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you like the show you will love the book! It follows Baltimore detectives as they solve crimes and what they go through in their daily lives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for fans of the show... April 14 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is brilliant. As a would-be journalist, I would say "life-altering". Not only is the subject matter compelling, the style is sweet enough to make Ann Rule cry like a little girl. And to think I only bought it to play "Match The Composite" with the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and readable March 9 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Here's a book that gets into the minds of homicide detectives like no other. The author is insightful and thorough, but his writing style is a celebration of brevity. Working within the law and sometimes around it or even in spite of it, the detectives are revealed as all-too-human but praiseworthy individuals. Read this with Randy Sutton's "True Blue : Police Stories by Those Who Have Lived Them" and you'll have the best writing on cops and crime available today.
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