Homicide Humour

Books

Murder isn’t a funny topic and most people balk at the idea of joking about the recently deceased. Yet, somehow the seventh chapter of Homicide made me laugh. Several times. And once out loud on a bus.

Baltimore is in the swing of summer and the heat is apparently getting to its residents. Murders over popsicles are becoming unfortunately common. The homicide detectives are just as riled about the heat and they use their dark and twisted sense of humour to deal with the influx of calls.

“Harry Edgerton takes an unattended death call from a young Southwest uniform, listens for a minute or two, then tells the kid he doesn’t have time to visit the scene.

‘Listen, we’re kind of busy right now,’ he says cradling the phone on his shoulder. ‘Why don’t you throw the body in the back of your car and bring him on downtown so we can take a look at him?’

‘Right,’ says the kid, hanging up.

‘Oh shit,’ says Edgerton, fumbling through a directory for the Southwest dispatch phone number. ‘He actually believed me.'” (348)

Leading up to this, Simon provides us with a graphic list of murder scenes. He splices the lyrics of It Takes Two between all of the gory descriptions, the homicide units song of the summer.

The tone at the beginning of this chapter is different from what I’ve read so far. Simon’s writing is casual and visual, if not a little bit goofy. It really accentuates the atmosphere of the homicide unit.

We talked about the detective’s use of humour in class earlier this week and laughing about death has never been something I’m comfortable with. I know laughter can be healing for someone in mourning, but I have a hard time knowing what to say, let alone cracking jokes.

But that’s not what Simon is talking about:

“This is CID homicide, mister, and neither heat nor rain nor gloom of night will keep these men from their rendezvous with callousness. Cruel jokes? The cruelest. Sick humour? The sickest.” (347) 

If I had to deal with death on a daily basis I’d probably need to something to take the edge off too. It’s a survival tactic.