Not from the aggregate, the usual statistical perspective that keeps murder and violence at arm's length (unless your arm can't escape the thick of things), but she took on the murders, one individual victim at a time. She wrote about his background, his life -- because it usually was a man, though sometimes, of course, a woman or a child. Who killed him and how, and the possible reasons why. Then the response from police to EMT to coroner. Notification of next of kin, the effect on the next of kin and friends, the funeral, the grieving, the aftermath and possible retaliation.
Gut-wrenching is a term that gets tossed about a lot, but maybe that's just because so many things in life do that to the gut. Her stories certainly fit the bill.
When I still worked at The Times, a small group of us met with Leovy, and we asked some rather typical questions, you know, how did you research each story, gather information, meet with the families, that type of thing. And then one guy asked, "Writing these stories, week after week, does it take it's toll on you, personally?"
And she rubbed her arms nervously, up and down and up and down, and finally said, "Oh, I'm a wreck."
This Sunday's LA Times has Leovy's review of a book about the history of murder in LA from 1840-1870. Before it was a city at all. And like today in LA and the world over, sometimes violence is gang against gang, tribe against tribe, ideology against ideology, and sometimes it's got nothing to do with any of that at all.
Apparently, the book also delves into the various concepts of justice. Something of immediate fascination since the internet has already proved to be the most successful instrument of mob justice mankind has ever known.
The book is titled "Eternity Street." Even if you don't read the book, read her piece. It's something more than the parts of its sum -- better than a book review; more than a discussion of LA's history, more than just really, really fine writing.