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Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets Paperback – 4 Jun 2009
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"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)
A true crime classic from the creator of THE WIRESee all Product description
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One or two cases stand out as central positions for the whole year. They are fascinating. The portraits of individual detectives are also strongly delineated.
This second time around, I found it longer and occasionally less of a page turner, but if it's your first time, I think you will enjoy the procedure, the integrity of Simon and for a short time, walk the streets of Baltimore.
Simon's experience is so finely described and characters portrayed so vividly from the smallest touches that I really believed I was in Baltimore. It is not a book just highlighting the most fascinating cases etc it is far more than that.
It is a deep portrayal of everyday life in one of the most challenging environments. Yes, on the beat, at the crimes scenes, hunting for suspects- all the exciting stuff, but also the procedures (and subsequent frustrations), personal lives and goals of each individual in an unbiased yet very thoughtful tone. I could smell the smoke, feel the emotions of the different detectives and felt so part of the team I never wanted it to end.
Superb book, one of my favourites, I was gutted when it ended.
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.
Day after day after day, Simon followed, lurked in the shadows, listened, observed, filled multiple notebooks. Marshalling those notes into a coherent narrative has been a painstaking triumph. From it all emerges a gripping account of what that year was like on the inside: the successes and failures, the togetherness that over-rode the jealousies, the black humour that anaesthetised the horror, the moments of inspiration, the hours of dogged routine, the cost in human life on both sides of the street. Simon dodges no issues: gun law madness, drugs, corruption, racism are all reported as seen. So, too, the strengths and weaknesses of the detectives.
Unlike many readers, I have never seen an episode of The Wire, the vehicle which belatedly was spawned by the author's year on the streets with the men from Homicide. My own recollection of Baltimore is dominated by the warmth and hospitality I was shown by a man called Joe Hamper and others when I invited myself at the shortest of notice to a night with the Orioles at the old Memorial Stadium. Apart from a small, slightly scary mistaken route, I saw nothing of the dark side of the city. David Simon's book lays it bare. Read it and prepare to be profoundly moved.
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