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Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets Paperback – 4 Jun 2009

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Frequently Bought Together

Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets + The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighbourhood + The Wire: Truth be Told
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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; 1st edition (4 Jun. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847673120
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847673121
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Simon's Homicide won the Edgar and Anthony awards and became the basis for the NBC award-winning drama. Simon's second book, The Corner: A Year in the Life of An Inner-City Neighbourhood, co-authored with Edward Burns, was made into an Emmy-winning HBO miniseries. Simon is currently an executive producer and writer for HBO's Peabody Award-winning series THE WIRE. He lives in Baltimore.

Product Description


A masterpiece . . . [Simon] has exceptional literary gifts of eye and ear. Few novelists have written so well about the corrosiveness of the modern American city. (Martin Amis)

A hard-nosed classic of modern crime reportage. (GQ)

The true genius of [his] work is its scope . . . Homicide moves beyond individual victims to tell the stories of those touched by their deaths. By staring deep into the eyes of the departed, Simon reveals the mysteries of the living. (Sunday Times)

The real delight is the discovery of Simon's perfect ear for dialogue; his masterful construction and pacing; and his empathy for his occasionally brutal but nevertheless inspirational subjects. (Observer)

This brilliant book . . . [is] desolate, sharp, poetic and passionate . . . Simon alternates between black humour and moments of bleakness, and the restlessness of the violence that lies underneath it all. (Financial Times)

A staggering work that is almost impossible to put down . . . a gripping depiction of America's culture of violence . . . Simon conjures up his subjects' individual personalities in three-dimensional detail. The detectives leap off these pages . . . A raw, revelatory and utterly real account of life and death in Baltimore. (Metro)

A remarkable psychological and personal picture of 18 men labouring under immense pressure in traumatic circumstances . . . it is not just a majestic piece of reporting, it demonstrates Simon's instinctive ability to identify how the political and psychological interact . . . It reads like a thriller as he takes you through the desperate world of inner city West and East Baltimore, slaying by slaying. (Daily Telegraph)

Homicide is as intense a work of observation as you're likely ever to find, studded with Simon's caustic, wry and suspicious personality, as well as the ability to portray people as they truly are, usually a complicated shade of gray. (Herald)

Brushes away the accretions of myth to reveal the banality of crime . . . it's a sober, unsurprised account of the desperately sad lives of people who commit most crimes and a quiet testimonial to the people who clear up the mess. (Word Magazine)

David Simon has single handedly raised the bar for writing about crime, crime-fighting and the messy and imprecise business of justice to new and nearly unreachable levels. Like the WIRE, which was easily the finest dramatic series in the history of television, a work of tremendous ambition which made everything in the genre to follow irrelevent. (Tony Bourdain)

The best book about homicide detectives by an American writer. (Norman Mailer)

Simon does an extraordinary job of getting under the skin and into the minds of the police officers. (New York Times Book Review)

Remarkable . . . A True Crime Classic . . . a journalistic masterpiece of a brutal, bloody, bewildering year in the Baltimore Police Department's homicide unit. (Associated Press)

A reporter who keeps his wits about him . . . A very good book. (The New Yorker)

Simon has captured the poetry of the meanest streets. (Los Angeles Times)

Certainly one of the most engrossing police procedural mystery books ever written, not only because the crimes and plots and personalities are real, but because Simon is a terrific writer who has mastered the necessities and nuances of his material. (Newsday)

The world of urban violence has never been so well portrayed, nor has the day-to-day craft of the detective. (Chicago Tribune)

Virtually ignored by TV schedulers and audiences in the UK, David Simon's uncompromising crime drama 'The Wire' has fan a devoted fan base on DVD in September. At the same time Canongate bring us a new UK edition of the book that started it all, David Simon's True Crime classic HOMICIDE. Unavailable for 15 years and a great read in its own right, he follows Baltimore's homicide department over the course of a year. This new 'Wire'-inspired jacket is sure to appeal to fans. (Bookseller)

Simon followed a group of Baltimore detectives through a year on the mean streets. The resulting book is a hefty volume, giving Simon cope for a huge amount of detail and it's this, I think, that makes it such compulsive reading. How the detectives work - the crime they dace, the casual murders, the hopeless lives - all seen through Simon's eyes and those of the detectives he follows so closely. Homicide became the inspiration behind the TV series The Wire, which I've not seen, but who needs fiction when factual writing is as good as this? (Publishing News)

An extraordinary book. (Vera Rule Guardian 2009-05-30)

Homicide is a beautifully-written, almost poetic observation of a desperately harrowing subject and Simon deserves the highest praise for going to the darkest places of the underbelly of the American dream and coming out with a gripping account of what it is like to live and work there. (Peter Whittaker Tribune 2009-07-31)

Book Description

A true crime classic from the creator of THE WIRE

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Antonin Artaud on 10 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
Despite being yet another who came to this book via The Wire, I had my doubts before reading it. Could it really be as brilliant, as addictive, and most importantly as entertaining as The Wire? Surely this is a huge tome full of dry forensic details and information about hair strands and blood splashes? Maybe a grisly peek into a blood drenched hell hole of a city? Or maybe a rip roaring "warts and all" exposé of boorish, wiseguy detectives, 700 pages of foul language and Budweiser? None of those particularly appeal to me, but it turns out that this book contains a little of each and much more. What's more, these strands are woven together by David Simon into a book so readable, so addictive - words that flow so easily off the page - it seems like magic. And all this despite the subject matter - knife wounds, rape, dead infants, drugs, autopsy procedures, the very dregs of society? Of course it's as good as The Wire.

When a non-fiction author grapples with several case studies and a wide array of characters in a book like this, it usually follows that some will be weaker than others, some less interesting, some you want to skip to get onto the good stuff. It is a problem with most non-fiction of this kind. Not here. Simon pitches and paces his book to near perfection. Although the Latonya Wallace investigation forms the spine of the book, there is never the urge to skip ahead or skim over boring bits. There are no boring bits. The cases covered vary widely in nature and in significance, but they are all gripping. Simon lays out a huge spread, and it's all equally tasty. Why is it good? Why is it as good as The Wire? Why is it like The Wire? Simon cares. He has a down to earth integrity that you can feel before you hit page 10. He cares about the job, the detectives, the victims.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Mar. 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a very realistic account of a year in the lives of one shift of homicide detectives written by a newspaper reporter that reads as well as fiction. You are right there at the crime scenes with the primary detectives when they roll the body over looking for clues, when they interview the witnesses, fill out the paperwork and go out for drinks after work when the board is changed from red to black, signifying the case has been closed. You can get a real appreciation as to what it is like to be an underpaid, underappreciated and overworked homicide investigator in a major city. Interrrogation techniques are revealed in this unique book. Some trial action. Definitely worth the read. Contains real life violence. A good companion to the TV show.
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88 of 92 people found the following review helpful By s.j.tyrrell@open.ac.uk on 15 Feb. 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I furst stumbled across this book in 1996 while studying film at college. I was a fan of the TV series and had just finished reading Clockers by Richard Price and thought it might be a worthy successor. What I read was perhaps the most astounding piece of literature I had ever picked up. Unlike many police procedurals the writing never wandered into a stale environment of form numbers and procedures and instead was a revelation at how tedious and tumultuous just a normal day can be. Crimes are interwoven into a cross section of Baltimore society with such skill and craftmanship that sometimes its almost too painful to witness the events that permeate the narrative. The skill of the writing and the sheer power of the subject matter combine until it is only with great reluctance that you manage to put the book down. I could go on for ever at how a little girls death rips through the entire homicide unit that in the hands of a lesser author would have been a book unto itself. But exisitng on the periphery of the main investigations are myriad vignettes into the hearts and minds that are equally as compelling. The use of ellipsis in the writing is magical and draws you further into the world of the detectives and their work but reading you find yourself witnessing the harrowing state of mind of a community wrenched apart by crime. Simons talent lies in how he manages to plug into the veins of this community while suggesting the problems are far from regional. Reading it for the second time a month ago made a great book even better. read it or it is sadly your loss. Check out The Corner as well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book months ago and immediately put it on one side because a) I hadn't realised it was non-fiction and thought it was a novel and b) it was just so enormous - 650 pages!
However when I finished the last DVD in The Wire I felt bereft and missing the mean streets of Baltimore. So now was the time to tackle Homicide..... I was not disappointed - in fact it is one of the best pieces of factual reportage that I have ever read. Simon was given access to the Police Department Homicide team for a year during which time he came to know the individual detectives and their strengths and weaknesses, the problems of policing the city, the local politics, the tyranny of the "solved crimes" league tables. He also records the black humour that detectives use as well as the many acts of empathy and kindness.

Rarely a day goes by without a murder taking place. Many are easily solved -such as domestics. Murders involving drug dealers and customers are usually met with a wall of silence and often the culprit is never identified. Other murders (such as when the victim is a child) arouse great anger and distress and extra resources are poured into the squad in order to find the guilty person.

Although non-fiction the book is constructed like a novel. As the book progresses the reader becomes more and more involved in the life of the homicide department. I found myself willing Pellegrini to somehow find the killer of little Latonya Wallace......

The writing is superb - not a superfluous word - and the book is packed with social issues relating the crime and punishment.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes crime fiction or police procedurals.
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