Summary of chapter 1 of Homicide: A Year on the Killing Street by David Simon.

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Chapter one takes place on Tuesday, January 19th in Baltimore and opens with Jay Landsman moving a dead man's face from side to side until the wound on him is more visible. He says to Tom Pellegrini that the corpse has a slow leak.

Pellegrini thinks to himself that Jay is a mental case. However, he does amuse the people he works with. Jay is the reason why Pellegrini has the nickname Phyllis: he pretended that Pellegrini was a woman once to get a jail to release a female prisoner to them.

The man on the sidewalk was dead when the police arrived. He was shot once in the head and once in the back; there is no wallet on the body. Pellegrini goes to speak to a woman who said she saw three men in black running away from the murder. By the time he gets back to the scene, they've identified the man from an ID card in his back pocket as Rudolph Michael Newsome.

At the station, the police speak to witnesses in another murder as they work the case. They clearly see a lot of drug cases. It's obvious that they're tired, low on resources, and having a difficult time keeping up with the crime in the city.

The narrator describes the job of being a police officer at this point in such a way that the reader understands how slow and frustrating it can be.

On Monday, January 18, the narrator describes the Big Man, Donald Worden, as being back from a long weekend. He's frustrated by not having any leads on a shooting case that's been on his desk for five weeks. Worden is concerned that the man was actually killed by a police officer and not by another assailant. He doesn't like the idea of pursuing a case that could put a cop in prison.

Worden and his partner go to the scene of another shooting. The brother of the victim lies to him about the gun. They leave, and Worden is even more frustrated than he was before.

On Wednesday, January 20, the narrator describes the murder board that shows what cases are active and who's working them. The current solve rate is fairly low. It worries Gary D'Addario, the Lieutenant. The narrator says that in homicide, the clearance rate is the most important thing.

Tuesday, January 26th finds Harry Edgerton almost stepping on an ear. There's a dead man and a shotgun on the sofa in the room. The man's wife was taken to the hospital for shock after her husband killed himself.

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