Author(s): David SimonDownload
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.
Some Reviews: 1081 in Goodreads.com
One of my most prized possessions is my first edition hardcover of this book which is signed by many of the detectives mentioned in it. I also own the first mass market paperback and one of the later trade paperbacks (the one that had a new forward and afterward or something like that). Plus the Kindle eBook. And the audiobook (read by Reed Diamond).
If that first paragraph didn’t clue you in, this is one of my favorite books ever. In the newsgroup alt.tv.homicide we just referred to it as The Book as among fans of the TV show Homicide: Life on the Street, that’s what it was and is. When the show drifted further away from the realities shown in The Book, it wasn’t nearly as good.
David Simon spent a year with a shift of Homicide detectives in Baltimore and wrote about it. Truth can be stranger than fiction, it can also be more entertaining than fiction when a good writer covers it.
As with the TV show, there’s dark depressing stuff and then there’s the hilarious stuff, usually smack up against each other. That’s the stuff I love. I still love that some of the storylines on the show which some thought “too out there” are lifted straight from this work of nonfiction.
If you enjoy dark humor, enjoyed the TV show, enjoyed The Wire, or like true crime you’ll probably like this.
I’ve just finished this incredible piece of journalism from David Simon. The voice that comes through in his writing feels wonderfully authentic, the people and places and situations so vivid in my mind that I almost came to think of these homicide detectives as friends or people I know.
I was thoroughly entertained throughout, only I was also grateful that I had finally finished it. It’s heavy work at times but it rewards you for your perseverance. I look forward to reading The Corner in the future. But in the distant future. Perhaps something a little lighter after this.
“A good investigator, leaning over a fresh obscenity, doesn’t waste time and effort battering himself with theological questions about the nature of evil and man’s inhumanity to man. He wonders instead whether the jagged wound pattern is the result of a serrated blade, or whether the discoloration on the underside of the leg is indeed an indication of lividity.”
There was never any way that this was going to be anything other than great. Simon, creator of the best television show ever (The Wire, in case you’re an ignoramus), spent 1988 following the detectives of the Baltimore homicide department. This is probably the best book you’re ever going to read as far as getting an insight into the Sisyphean world of policework. It’s also the best way to understand the crumbling institutions of contemporary America, from the streets and the cops. It is enlightening, frustrating, funny, outright disturbing, and then somehow even funnier despite that, Simon gives us a frank glimpse at the detectives, their work, their victims, and the city they all live in. Nothing is romanticized or glorified, this is the real shit as it is, including the shady political dealings with cases, unsolved cases, unclear cases, and even courtroom shenanigans.
644 pages later, I didn’t want this to end. Fiction writers, unencumbered by journalistic ethics, can only dream about creating something this compelling and moving. In case there are a few other fans out there who didn’t know that Homicide: Life on the Street was based on a nonfiction book, I am noting it here so that you can discover the original Frank Pembleton, John Munch and Al Giardello yourselves. The research was done in 1988, but the action doesn’t seem dated. DNA analysis and cell phones came later, but I’m betting good detective work has never been better.
I re-read this because I am going to teach it this fall. In a book about how homicides are investigated, Simon looks at race, class, politics, police, residents, drugs, sexism, racism, and any another ism. There is plently in this book to chew over.
I finally read this. I loved the NBC series based on this book. Honestly, if you are debating reading this book, read it. Simon is fair, and his writing is compelling. You get a real sense of people he writes about as well as the department as a whole. If you watched the series, you will be amazed about how much was used from the book in developing plot lines. It is a book that I will think about using in class.
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