The Wire is perhaps the best show ever to grace the small screen, Gritty, realistic, a no holds barred look at the different facets of Baltimore, from the drugs trade, the school system through to internal machinations of the police force and newspapers, amongst others.
This accompanying tome is an absolutely compelling beast of a book. David Simon creator of The Wire narrates his journalistic account of life in Baltimore’s homicide department (which would later provided the basis for his excellent (and aforementioned) TV show) in grim and sometimes harrowing detail.
Amongst some fascinating and often senseless stories, my highlights would have to be stories of the jury, Geraldine the life insurance woman and Latonya Wallace. However to go into any detail of these stories would perhaps be unfair to anyone who is willing to engage in one of the finest sociopolitical books of the last century in any genre.
That is not to say the book is without humour albeit mostly of a gallows nature, but working in a city with almost more murders than days of the year (at the time of writing) will probably do that to you.
Simon spent a whole year with the Homicide department and gradually introduces you to all the detectives, how they think and work and their cases, yet remains detached enough to show you everything in detail without prejudice. Each separate case is, as you would expect, told with journalistic detachment and a great eye for detail. Although Simon can’t help but sympathise with people on both sides of the law, the reporting is well balanced.
Simon doesn’t elevate the police either he tells it like it is, faults and all and that’s what makes this such a fine piece of work, it’s just another year for these men doing a job that most couldn’t handle. In an ideal world this would be recommended reading for everyone, detailing as it does not only the aforementioned police work but also the class, race and political divides that pervade the text.
If you haven’t watched The Wire this book is still accessible giving you a grounding for the show and an idea of the storylines and procedures that go on in real life. If like me you saw the show first then this is more of the same fascinating storylines, with paperwork. This book really does add depth and a heightened sense of realism when you rewatch the show.
This should really be required reading for everyone, especially those people associated with hack journalism that has invaded and degraded our newspapers. This is how to report a story of public interest, which I always thought was supposed to be what real journalism was all about. All in all I can’t really fault this book suffice to say I wish it was longer and i was still reading it.