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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 Much more enthralling than the TV show Aug. 13 2002
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling and dramatic July 19 2001
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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5.0 out of 5 stars This book deserves more than 5 stars June 17 2001
By C. Fung
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Best Police Book Ever Written Jan. 26 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Put down your police procedural murder mysteries. I don't care who wrote them because they are all fiction. If you want the REAL story, this is it. I couldn't put this book down. Every scintillating fact and detail of the killing streets of Baltimore, Maryland, as experienced by its Homicide Division in the Police Department is recounted here. The people in this book are all real and they are so well set forth that you will feel as if you live or work with them yourself. I felt as if I were the reporter on assignment with them for a year. This book was also a big award winner, as it should have been. In a curious way, by book's end, you are saying two contradictory statements to yourself. (1) How do these police people stand doing this kind of work day in and day out and (2) I can understand that the work is so fascinating that it is easy for it to utterly absorb and involve you, taking over your life. The rest of us lead incredibly dull lives compared to the homicide detectives of the BPD!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars David Simon is King
David Simon writes pretty better than pretty much anybody. If he wrote an annotated phone book, I'd buy that, too.
Published 8 months ago by Alex Carey
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book Ever
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. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Donna Robertson-Balzer
5.0 out of 5 stars Homicide: A Review Of The Killing Streets
One of the principle rules of any society is to not kill another. Ancient religions and governments preach and rule against it. Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2012 by Scoopriches
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't like it
Hard to follow and understand what the author is talking about. David Simon is all over the place with the story, not what I expected.
Published on May 28 2011 by Zeus
5.0 out of 5 stars A good learning experience
After watching (alas) the complete television episodes, venturing the book was an experiene on its own. Read more
Published on Dec 21 2008 by Paul H Aube
5.0 out of 5 stars Always compared against
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... Read more
Published on May 18 2008 by W. Patrick Bradley
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
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.
Published on Aug. 16 2004 by Travis Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for fans of the show...
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... Read more
Published on April 14 2004 by E. Jahneke
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and readable
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. Read more
Published on March 9 2004 by Timothy G. Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read
If you are interested at all in the criminal justice, police, CSI, law enforcement, or legal fields...you MUST read this book!!! Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2003 by Brandon Ching
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