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abookaweek 2012: week sixteen

2012 April 22

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, by David Simon

Category: Non-fiction

Story: 1988: David Simon spends a year with Baltimore’s homicide department, riding in cars, eavesdropping on interrogations and looking over the detectives’ shoulders as they try to solve two new murders every three days. The homicide department in The Wire, along with a bunch of its characters (most notably Jay Landsman) was based on Simon’s experiences here.

Opinion: I think it’s almost impossible not be fascinated by Baltimore after watching The Wire, and in truth that is the main reason I picked up this book. If you’re expecting wire taps and year-long investigations then you’re in the wrong place, but what you’ll get instead is a frank look into how a homicide department in one of the US’s most violent cities operates. Simon was working for The Baltimore Sun while he wrote this, and that background really paid off for this book.

Not only do you get to read about the cases themselves (some of which are sad, some of which are funny, most of which are run of the mill), but more interestingly, you learn all about departmental politics and team dynamics — which is a lot more fascinating than it sounds!

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