Those of you who have been watching The Wire should already be familiar with the name David Simon. It was he, after all, who created the groundbreaking series which many critics, myself included, consider to be the best television series ever made.

However, before he was portraying the ins and outs of Baltimore’s drug problems, from the street all the way up to the powers in city hall, he was tackling things on a smaller, but no less important, scale.

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets follows a year in the life, or, if you’re being cynical death, of the Homicide Division in Baltimore. Simon was given unfettered access to every detective in the squad, including all of their previous cases and was also taken to crime scenes and sat in on interrogations when suspects were rounded up.

The book gives you a fascinating look into the world of the Homicide Detective, a job which takes a keen brain, a knack for solving puzzles, and a strong constitution, as they have to deal with death day in and day out.

Written in the style of a detective novel, rather than a journalistic effort, it allows you to get right under the skin of each man who works in the division. You get to see what makes them tick and also the dedication to their job. This is most evidenced by the case of a young girl who is raped and murdered which constitutes the backbone of the book and sees one wet behind the ears cop become a seasoned pro over a few months.

However it’s not all serious, we see how the men are often no different to jocks in the locker room, playing pranks and generally ragging on each other which defuses the horrors that they have to witness.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the aforementioned series, as some of the characters are directly taken from the detectives Simon met as well as some of the dialogue he overheard.

I would also recommend it to people who have an interest in the ‘science’ of detective work. It can be fascinating to see the leap of logic that some detectives take which lead to the closing of a case, a used glass for example. Despite the books 600+ pages it is a very easy read, the words just leap off of the page.

David Simon has another book coming out soon called The Corner, which if it’s even half as good as this will be an excellent addition to anyone’s library.