Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets PDF/EPUB Ã A


Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets From the creator of HBO s The Wire, the classic book about homicide investigation that became the basis for the hit television showThe scene is Balti 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 worldDavid 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 girlOriginally 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 Believe the hype this is a truly excellent book An in depth examination of one year in the life of the Balti Homicide department Undoubtedly it s gritty and earthy and contains many gruesome moments, but it s also a very human book with the key detectives brought to life as the reader is made to understand the bizarre world they inhabit It s a place where death is serious but is nearly always a joke, where despite these men and they are pretty much all men having compassion it s a d Believe the hype this is a truly excellent book An in depth examination of one year in the life of the Balti Homicide department Undoubtedly it s gritty and earthy and contains many gruesome moments, but it s also a very human book with the key detectives brought to life as the reader is made to understand the bizarre world they inhabit It s a place where death is serious but is nearly always a joke, where despite these men and they are pretty much all men having compassion it s a dull evening s shift when somebody isn t murdered Okay, some of the prose has clearly been boiled forthan fifteen minutes, but this is an entertaining and thought provoking look at a job and a life which most people only ever get a glimpse of It s a large tome that enthralled me so much I raced through it in half a week.Like most people these days I ve come to this after watching The Wire , which, of course, is an excellent series As in the TV show, Simon manages to fully evoke the world of the Homicide team, with its jokes and tensions and bigger than life characters Much like the TV show there are diversions into the areas around the department, such as the morgue and the courts, and Simon expertly conjures those worlds In addition Snot Boogie, and other pieces of dialogue, make their first appearances here And just like The Wire it has an ending which suggests that crime and murder in Balti is a beast unstoppable and will just keep destroying all in its path I m going to go out on a limb and say that most of us don t know much about the Street Not streets, in general, but the Street, proper noun I make that assumption based on the fact that I m writing this and you re reading this on Goodreads, which is just about as far from the Street as you can possibly get I was born in the mostly white suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota I lived across the street from a park, where people ice skated in winter and played little league during the summer If a co I m going to go out on a limb and say that most of us don t know much about the Street Not streets, in general, but the Street, proper noun I make that assumption based on the fact that I m writing this and you re reading this on Goodreads, which is just about as far from the Street as you can possibly get I was born in the mostly white suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota I lived across the street from a park, where people ice skated in winter and played little league during the summer If a cop came into my neighborhood, it was because our night games capture the flag, ghosts and goblins were disturbing the sleep of our neighbors I went to a private school, along with all my friends We all had stable families until our parents divorced, right on cue, as we entered college and we all entered college Such is the suburban life I led The Street is different, as night is different from day, and as a punch in the groin is different from a bite of cake I make no claims to any knowledge of the Street Whatever faint knowledge I pretend to have comes from the bits and pieces gleaned from my clients in the public defenders office It s a place without young men and fathers, who are in jail, or absconded, or dead As a result, there is no such thing as a regular peer group Twelve year olds hang out with nineteen year olds, with predictable results It s a place where the commercial markets to which we ve grown accustomed do not exist There aren t supermarkets, so if you want to go shopping, you better have a car or be willing to take the bus If you want to shop local, the goods you purchase, from a store with iron gates over the windows, and the clerk behind bulletproof glass, you will oddly, since this is an impoverished place paythan you would elsewhere There aren t banks, so if you re lucky enough to get a paycheck, you have to go to EZ Check or Payday Express, where you lose up to 20% of that money Since the normal cabs won t come to this place, there are jitneys unlicensed taxis to ferry you from place to place The jobs that exist here are service oriented and strictly local hair stylists, child care, lawn care Based on our whacky drug laws, the sharpest capitalists get into drugs, where you can makein a couple hours than you could in a month.So, that s the Street And no Street compared to Balti in the 1980s where, in some years, there was almost a murder a day That s where David Simon s classic, gripping, surprisingly powerful piece of journalism, Homicide A Year on the Killing Streets, takes place Homicide belongs to that narrow genre of year in the life of journalism, of which I am a devotee I ve read books about a year in the life of a firehouse, and a courthouse, and a public defenders office Though I keep reading them, I m always a little disappointed The reason, I think, is that the main story the events taking place during that particular year often aren t interesting enough to support a narrative thus, you get a lot of filler historical context, biographies, etc Unfortunately for the dead souls in Homicide, David Simon never came across that problem There are enough murders to support a television show for seven seasons A new case is breaking every other day, so that the detectives that Simon follows the focus is on a single shift comprised of three squads are always busy The big case of the year is the rape and murder of a young girl, who s eviscerated body is found dumped in an alley In the afterword, Simon calls this case the spine of the book I hate to disagree with the author, since he wrote this and all, but no single murder, not even one as horrible as the dead of a child, stands out Indeed, they all start to blur together, which is sort of the point In my opinion, the true framework of the book is a list of rules for a homicide detective Rule One Everyone lies These rules are a jumping off point for various discussions on topics such as Miranda warnings, probable cause, autopsies, and justifiable force Simon deftly blends theses discussions into the narrative, so that things that would feel like digressions or filler in other books instead seamlessly becomes part of the story For instance, here s Simon s inimitable way of explaining Miranda s Fifth Amendment protections The detective offers a cigarette, not your brand, and begins an uninterrupted monologue that wanders back and forth for a half hour , eventually coming to rest in a familiar place You have the absolute right to remain silent Of course you do You re a criminal Criminals always have the right to remain silent At least once in your miserable life, you spent an hour in front of a television set, listening to this book em Danno routine You think Joe Friday was lying to you You think Kojak was making this horsesh t u No way, bunk, we re talking sacred freedoms here, notably your Fifth Fu ing Amendment protection against self incrimination, and hey, it was good enough for Ollie North, so who are you to go incriminating yourself at the first opportunity Get it straight A police detective, a man who gets paid government money to put you in prison, is explaining your absolute right to shut up before you say something stupid Homicide begins with a murder on January 19, and ends with a murder in December In between, there are shootings, stabbings, beatings and suicides Some get bludgeoned, others strangled Every once in awhile there s even a natural death these still has to be investigated by the homicide squad if it appears suspicious It s a catalogue of darkness and evil, and for the first hundred pages or so, I found the book almost unbearably suffocating It s like the movie Se7en, all darkness and rain and inhumanity, but without the ability to get lost in Brad Pitt s eyes All the detectives tend to blur together they all talk tough, with a certain coarse indifference that is a shield against the grim realities of their calling The victims are dehumanized and, just as important, so are the detectives It doesn t help that so many of the detectives have similar names at the start, it s tough to separate your Worden from your Waltemeyer, or tell McLarney from McAllister And good luck differentiating Edward Brown from David Brown They all seem as one hard, unfeeling, tough, and eloquently blasphemous Over time, and 500pages, that starts to change Despite the fact that you almost never learn about these men s personal lives, and never follow them home though you follow them to many, many bars , all nineteen of the detectives in Lieutenant Gary D Addario s shift become sharply etched individuals You get to understand their strengths, their weaknesses their talents and their shortcomings how they investigate crimes and how they interact with their colleagues Homicide subtly gains power as it moves forward, so that by the time the final page comes, and you have to leave these detectives behind, you re grateful that your edition of the book comes with Simon s 2006 afterword, so you can find out what has happened to these men in the decades following publication Simon is best known for HBO s The Wire As such, it was no surprise that Homicide wonderfully catches the hilariously profane, idiomatic, and often surprisingly evocative dialogue heard on the Street But Homicide is muchthan premium cable ready one liners It is a work of reporting so impossibly detailed that it boggles my mind how Simon was ever able to compile this information, and then shape it into a coherent work At six hundred pages, Homicide qualifies as an epic of the Street Simon takes you, as expected, to dozens of murder scenes, in a variety of alleys, tenements, and curbsides He also provides a retrospectively nostalgic glimpse into an 80 s era precinct house, complete with bw analogue television sets, typewriters, and cops who weren t afraid to have a beer on the job Beyond that, Simon leads you Virgil like into the autopsy room, and the prosecutor s office, and, in a great set piece, through the trial of an alleged cop shooter This is a masterpiece Simple as that It resonates It gets beneath your skin It takes you someplace you ve probably never been, and you start to get that vicarious thrill until you realize, as hard as it is, that this is a real place, and not a nightmare conjured from a dark imagination A couple parting thoughts First, Homicide was written during the advent of DNA analysis If you believe Simon, in the afterword, police work hasn t changed much in the years since publication He writes that cops still rely on their gut instincts, their intuition, and their tried and true interrogation techniques I have a hard time believing that Not the part about the DNA, necessarily, but certainly the enhanced interrogation techniques practiced by Balti s finest Some of the stunts these detectives pulled come straight out of LA Confidential Nowadays, most police forces, as a matter of practice, record all interrogations on video I know, at least, that this is the practice of our police department, and we re not exactly on the leading edge of things Any defense attorney who saw a recording of one of these interrogations would have a hard time believing he or she wasn t in heaven It s not just that the things these guys were doing were unconstitutional, it s that they were so unconstitutional as to defy belief Secondly, the streets of Balti are an alien world to most readers of Homicide Simon makes it all thealien by telling his story entirely from the point of view of the mostly white detectives who enter and exit this mostly black enclave While we eventually learn a great deal about these detectives, we never learn anything about the victims, or the people who populate these mean streets The effect is to humanize the cops while turning the victims and the criminals into animals This isn t a criticism so much as it is an observation Indeed, Simon switched points of view in his follow up, The Corner Yet it s worth bearing this one sidedness in mind while reading Homicide It is so relentless, so committed to its story, that you start to lose the larger context of failed drug laws, failed schools, poverty, and the legacy of racism that has created these streets You also forget that when you close the book, finally able to escape, that the streets do not disappear They are still out there, whether we are thinking about them or not this contains Wire spoilers, but not Homicide spoilers The Wire is over The Wire, which salvaged so many depressing Sunday nights The Wire, which was the only reason we subscribed to HBO The Wire, one of the few television dramas where I ve repeatedly found myself thinking of all the characters and their situations as real.I m sure I m not the only one who feels the same way Fictional or not, Omar got obituaries in publications across the country when his character died a few weeks this contains Wire spoilers, but not Homicide spoilers The Wire is over The Wire, which salvaged so many depressing Sunday nights The Wire, which was the only reason we subscribed to HBO The Wire, one of the few television dramas where I ve repeatedly found myself thinking of all the characters and their situations as real.I m sure I m not the only one who feels the same way Fictional or not, Omar got obituaries in publications across the country when his character died a few weeks ago Whole NFL teams gather together to watch And even Barack Obama has mentioned his love for the show on the road several times What do we do now that it s over I have at least a temporary solution A few weeks ago, Ben bought Homicide A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon, one of the two creators of the show and a former Balti Sun journalist The non fiction book follows 30 or so Balti detectives through a year of cases starting on New Year s day in 1988 and ending on New Year s Eve 1988 When Ben started reading it, it did nothing less than take over his life, and when I started reading it the day he finished it, it took over mine In the good way.Reading Homicide is like reading the true story behind the myth of The Wire You meet the real characters who where mixed up and re pieced together to create Bunk, McNulty, Lester, and Keema More than that, it offers a back stage pass into the details of detective work that are only glimpsed during the show whole chapters are devoted to what it s like to work in the city morgue and what it s like for a detective to testify in court Vocabulary words from The Wire that you always wondered about like a yo and a redball are finally clearly defined.In short, Homicide makes me better understand why we loved The Wire so much it is truthful and as much as a television drama can be it is real No wonder that the world has taken Omar s death as if it he once actually lived No wonder it was heartbreaking to know that Bubbles makes it but Dookie doesn t.There weren t any fireworks at the end of Homicide some of the biggest murder cases of the year are never solved and none of the hardworking detectives are recognized or even given enough overtime There also weren t any big fireworks at the end of The Wire and Homicide helped me understand that that s how it should be.So if your schedule is still empty on Sunday nights, or if you start missing the late night antics of detectives waiting for the phone to ring, don t worry there s still Homicide, and it s a solid 650 pages long An obsession of the narrator in When we were Orphans is that there is a cause to the crime that he sees As a famous private Detective at least in his own mind he sees himself as sitting across a chessboard, grandmaster against grandmaster in a battle of wills Good eventually triumphing over evil.That attractive notion that evil acts, although a disruption in orderly and peaceful lives, are meaningful the product of an evil will keeps us watching crime stories on TV and reading detection st An obsession of the narrator in When we were Orphans is that there is a cause to the crime that he sees As a famous private Detective at least in his own mind he sees himself as sitting across a chessboard, grandmaster against grandmaster in a battle of wills Good eventually triumphing over evil.That attractive notion that evil acts, although a disruption in orderly and peaceful lives, are meaningful the product of an evil will keeps us watching crime stories on TV and reading detection stories The order of the universe has been broken but through sheer brainpower the hero will identify and remove the wrong doer and make the world safe is a very satisfying and reassuring story Perhaps this is why conspiracy theories are popular they allege that there is meaning in the rush of the world s events that is explicable to the true initiate.This book is an antidote to all that Not all cases are solved Not all cases that are solved make it to court Not all cases taken to court result in a conviction No one cares about the motive, accept perhaps the jury, who know the motive is important from watching Detective dramas on TV And above all most of the crimes are stupid There are no Napoleons of crime here Instead murders committed in a moment of anger, or for a handful of money, or a couple of days worth of drugs When it comes to solving cases it is luck and good fortune that rule Hard work is good, but luck is better.David Simon spent a year in the late 1980s with the Balti police department homicide squad and this book is the resulting reportage Simple day to day police work, office and job situational humour and since this is about a Homicide department you need a fairly dire sense of humour to enjoy this, the woman with two husbands in the same house each of whom thinks the other is just the lodger is perhaps the politest example , successes and failures come intermixed It is an episodic book We experience the cases as they occur, not in neat coherent packages This makes it easy to pick up and put down or to reread sections as you please.Slowly Simon introduces some general passages, on the development of the Balti Police Force from its origins as being simply the best armed gang on the street to its state in the 1980s, the over worked court system reliant on plea bargaining to keep going, coping with disinterested jurors and the politics of the system The police and courts as a system was also one of the themes of The Wire and what Simon shows us in this book is a snapshot of a system formed and functional in some earlier time but which can t realistically cope with the number and type of murders that were occurring in Balti during the 1980s This was largely a result of the number of drug related crimes whether execution style killings with minimal if any evidence at the crime scene or street corner killings The detectives were bludgeoned with so many cases and left working as individuals rather than in teams that dealing with complex cases view spoiler one of these was a sprawling Black Widow case featuring two men living in the same house who both believed they were married to the same woman but didn t know that the other was also her husband view spoiler bedtimes must have been interesting hide spoiler which came to light only after repeated attempts to murder her niece for the insurance to which the aunt was the only beneficiary view spoiler beware of aunts bearing insurance hide spoiler a case which was further complicated by the fraudulent misburial of dozens of corpses in a cemetery hide spoiler let alone systemic issues risked derailing the work of the department as a whole, geared as it was to attempting to clear view spoiler ie to have identified a culprit and built a case against against them, this however did not require that the case be brought to court let alone a conviction to be achieved hide spoiler over half the homicides committed during the year to maintain an acceptable position in the national league tables This naturally was a political nonsense and one familiar I assume to many Goodreaders working in semi bureaucratic jobs with demi politicised objectives that are public footballs, but careers have been built out of worse.Coming to this afterThe Wireyou ll recognise his some of his source materialcan be found in The Corner , in characters, situations, anecdotes and some major themes the reactive nature of the homicide set up means that they are struggling to cope with an increasing number of homicides and the joy of statistics But this is an entirely free standing book, full of insight into a team of people struggling to cope with crimes of a scale and type that they aren t geared up to deal with So why did you marry her Childs asked him I had to, he explains She put a voodoo curse on me and I had to do what she said How did she do that Baines recalled that his aunt had cooked him a meal using her own menstrual discharge and watched as he ate Afterward, she told him what she had done and explained that she now had power over him.Childs and Waltemeyer exchange glances.I wonder if that would have made Miss Marple drop a stitch If the fictional detective from the nineteenth century onwards became a way of exploring society through a formulaic and easily consumed fiction then Simon is flipping that round to show how factual police work shows a society obsessed with the presentation of a positive message that has no possible reality to reality and in which the workers running on this particularly hamster wheel protect themselves only through black humour, failure to do so adequately results in alcoholism and or suicide

  • Paperback
  • 646 pages
  • Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets
  • David Simon
  • English
  • 11 June 2018
  • 0805080759

About the Author: David Simon

David Simon is a journalist and writer best known for his nonfiction book Homicide A Year on the Killing Streets and its television dramatization Homicide Life on the Street, which David Simon also produced and wrote for Librarian Note There isthan one author in the GoodReads database with this name See this thread forinformation.


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