Picks and Pans Review: The Killing Season
For Los Angeles homicide detectives Pete Razanskas and Marcella Winn, solving murders in South Central's gang-infested 77th Street Division isn't a job, it's a mission. Razanskas, a 22-year LAPD veteran and squadron cutup, chose to spend his entire career in South Central—even though his grueling 24-7 work schedule cost him two marriages. Winn, a weight-lifting, 35-year-old African-American rookie detective, is serving in her home community, about which she, too, has strong convictions. Together this odd couple tracks down killers and comforts the shattered families left behind.
To write this engaging nonfiction account of life and death in a tough, urban homicide department, Corwin, a Los Angeles Times reporter, rode with the detectives from March to October 1994. What he observed defies some widely believed stereotypes about the police. Instead of cynical cops marking time until retirement, Corwin found a pair of well-trained and self-sacrificing detectives, outraged by the senseless killing around them and almost obsessed with bringing their quarry to justice. This eye-opening book's saddest insight? During the nearly eight months described in The Killing Season—in the same city and the same year as the homicide case for which O.J. Simpson was arrested—more than 400 human beings were murdered in South Central, a "quiet genocide," as Corwin eloquently terms it, that was regarded by much of the world as business as usual. The victims were noticed by almost no one except their heartbroken relatives and a few hardworking detectives. (Simon & Schuster, $23)