Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

Journalists that go on to write books aren’t that rare, after all, they’re used to writing and often have some interesting insights that normal desk workers just don’t have. That’s why it made perfect sense that Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon would write about his experience living in one of the most dangerous cities in America as he spent a year tracking the homicide unit of Baltimore’s police department.

He details how he followed the police officers from crime scenes, to interrogations, even to hospital emergency rooms, this isn’t your every day inside story, this is someone who has really lived it and is able to examine it with the honed eye of a reporter.

The book starts by describing a number of the detectives and gives fascinating insight into how they conduct themselves while they’re at work on the streets, and even while they’re off duty. One of the detectives, Donald Worden, noticed a sailor who was walking with someone who looked suspicious, and so when the sailor was later found beaten to death and robbed, they immediately had a lead on a subject, but most cases don’t get solved so easily.

There’s also mention of the justice system failing victims because the jury allow people who walk on the basis that they seem like nice people, or even that they don’t like the sound of the prosecutor’s voice.

You can hardly talk about Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets or David Simon without talking about that fact that this book was eventually adapted into the hit TV series: The Wire. While that may have been an unintended positive side effect of Simon’s book, as soon as the TV series was released it put the book back in the lime light where it’s been afforded a new lease of life (Guardian review).