Homicide

Simon, David. Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991.

Reason read: There is a book festival held in Baltimore every September.

Question: What happens when a reporter, already on the Baltimore police beat, is allowed to have unlimited access to the city’s homicide unit for a full year? Answer: Homicide: a Year on the Killing Streets, a 600 page play by play of what it is like to work a murder from start to finish. From the first report of a cold body to (sometimes) solving the case, Simon was there to witness and document every little moment. He followed various detectives as they got the call, examined the victim for cause of death, poured over the crime scene for clues, canvassed the neighborhoods for reluctant witnesses, stood over autopsies waiting for more evidence, paced the halls in hospital emergency rooms impatient for first-hand accounts from survivors, went on death notifications, stared at their murder boards trying to put the pieces together…These police officers portray the grim reality of crime but they also share moments of humor, sarcasm and a genuine love of the job. I found myself liking Detective McLarney and thinking it would be cool to have a beer with him.

Probably the hardest cases to read about were young Latonya Wallace and police officer Gene Cassidy.

Line I liked, “A heavily armed nation prone to violence finds it only reasonable to give law officers weapons and the authority to use them” (p 108).

Book trivia: This is an informal reporting on crime in Baltimore. No index, photographs or footnoted references.

Author fact: At the time of publication David Simon was a reporter with the Baltimore Sun. He took a leave of absence to write this book. In the time he took him to write Homicide 567 additional murders occurred.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the obvious chapter called, you guessed it, “Baltimore” (p 34).



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