Meet Pete Razanskas, 22-year veteran homicide cop and Marcella Winn, a rookie detective who grew up in the 'hood. They're an unlikely partnership whose job it is to attempt to close some of the hundreds of murder cases that happen every year in the gang-infested streets of South-Central LA. Crime reporter Miles Corwin gained unprecedented access to shadow them for the usual hot summer of endless homicide. We meet the cops, the victims and the murders (Crips and Bloods, drug dealers, psychopaths and even killer kids), witness their incredible daily lives and hear their stories in intimate detail. The Killing Season is a raw, shocking and riveting story of an extreme place not far from the ordinary world where war rages on the streets and life has little value.
South Central Los Angeles is a proving ground for homicide detectives. Taken as a city in its own right, the region would "rank among the nation's top ten" in murders, according to Los Angeles Times crime reporter Corwin in this gripping brief. During the summer of 1994, Corwin rode with two homicide cops as they raced from crime to crime, trying to keep up with the murderous pace. One, Pete Razankas, is the stereotype of a burnt-out cop: thrice-married, perpetually behind on his paperwork, a veteran of 22 years in South Central, looking forward only to his annual hunting trip. His summer duties include shepherding Marcella Winn, a gifted detective trainee, through her transition to the homicide unit. Razankas is a shoot-from-the-hip conversationalist who makes an occasional racist, ethnic or sexist remark during his perpetual razzing of his colleagues. By contrast, Winn is the rare black woman in this predominantly white male environment. Through Corwin's eyes, she appears as a font of folk wisdom, often quoting her mother's mantra, "What I don't understand would make a whole new world." Authors of insider narratives often tend to impose an artificial dramatic arc on their material. Corwin avoids this by framing his story against the change of seasons. By focusing on the hidden victims--the children of the murdered--he brings to light the traumatic effects of violent crime on the young. His occasional asides on the LAPD and the history of South Central provide welcome historical context. More than a tale of cops and robbers, Corwin's reporting brings home the hard reality of overworked cops and a stressed-out system fighting a losing battle against an epidemic of violent death.