2009: 59. Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

Pulling on hand from the warmth of a pocket, Jay Landsman squats down to grab the dead man’s chin, pushing the head to one side until the wound becomes visible as a small, ovate hole, oozing red and white.

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, David Simon

I really, really enjoyed this book, which is the story of one year in the Baltimore Homicide squad, as told by a Sun reporter who spent a year of his life living with the men and women of the police.  It is extremely well written, and while often a bleak look at American justice and American cities (well, circa 1989), it is funny and interesting and really un-putdownable.  It is also written by David Simon, who wrote the T.V. shows Homicide (based on this here book), The Corner, and, of course, The Wire.  So as much as I enjoyed the book, it was inexorably linked in my head with Bunk, McNulty, Lester, Omar, Stringer Bell, Marlo Little, and it was hard to keep the fact from the fiction - harder when you realize that Jay Landsman is the name of a real homicide detective (and that the real Jay Landsman cameoed on The Wire).  And as good as the book is, The Wire is probably the best show ever on television, and this nonfiction work can’t really compare to that.  I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in crime in America, for sure, but I think that if you were going to chose between reading this and watching the show, I’d have to recommend the show - which might just be a first for this book lover.  But if you liked the show, read the book, and even if a few things seem familiar (and you’ll need to shake the cognitive dissonance), you’ll still be fascinated by the story that really started it all.  And, part of me wished Simon would write an updated version about what being a cop is like today - but more of me hopes he makes a new T.V. series for me to watch...


Date/Place Completed: April 2009; D.C.

Categories:  Non-Fiction, Library Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017