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About a year ago, I asked David Simon whether the three top-flight crime novelists he’s hired for The Wire—Richard Price, George Pelecanos, and Dennis Lehane—had trouble adapting to the TV show. After all, The Wire scrutinizes Baltimore in granular detail, while those three writers are practically synonymous with other burgs: Price is New York, Pelecanos is D.C., Lehane is Boston. No trouble at all, Simon told me—East Baltimore might as well be Dempsy, the mythical, run-down New Jersey city where Price has set three brilliant novels: Clockers, Freedomland, and Samaritan. In fact, you can argue that Price has defined The Wire as much as Baltimore or even Simon. Wire talk is Price talk: Since his first novel, 1974’s The Wanderers, a seriocomic portrait of a Bronx street gang, Price has specialized in whip-crack dialogue that efficiently exposes his characters’ emotions, ambition, history, and placement on the American class ladder. Pelecanos and Lehane are no slouches in that department, as King Suckerman and Mystic River attest. But as all three convene for “Cities at Night: Detectives and Crime,” the first event in PEN/Faulkner’s 2007n08 reading series, there are good reasons to consider this Price’s evening. He’s had a two-decade head start on his colleagues, he’s done (and recovered from) much of the hard living that many crime writers only observe from the outside, and the event just happens to occur on Price’s birthday. Lehane, Pelecanos, and Price discuss their works (columnist Clarence Page moderates) at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol St. NE. $15. (202) 544-7077.