This is not your normal cop novel with LAPD officers standing on the thin blue line protecting ungrateful citizens from the ravenous predators surrounding them, then getting drunk at cop bars at night.
Will Beall is a LAPD officer who works homicide in south L.A. He’s a gifted writer with an ear for slang and jargon equal to that of Tom Wolfe (a master of the art.) His prose is almost hallucinatory as he describes the violence, vendettas, and multiple personas and loyalties of the cops, gang members, and drug cartels whose not-so-fictional lives intertwine and collide in L.A. Rex.
But the storyline has to be coming out of loonyland, right? There’s no way that LAPD officers could be stone cold gang members whose first loyalty is to the gang, not LAPD. Or that rap moguls get murdered in cold blood on a L.A. city street. Well, of course, all that happened, as witness David Mack, former LAPD officer. He was a central figure in the Rampart police corruption scandal, was named in a wrongful death suit filed by Notorious B.I.G’s family, is currently doing 14 years in prison for bank robbery, and is a self-admitted member of the Bloods.
Beall fictionalizes that twisted saga, and uses it in this dark morality tale. There’s no easy answers here, no snappy resolution of the conflicts. And yeah, he appears to be one of the good cops too.
Will Beall, quoted in The LAPD blog.
Spend enough time in South Central and you make some unpleasant historical connections. You begin to see the body count not just as the work of Crips and Bloods but as the legacy of restrictive housing covenants and economic isolation. Believe me, this nation’s history of racial oppression doesn’t feel so abstract after a few autopsies.
I know a lot of black people still don’t trust cops. Can’t say I blame them. For generations, police were the street-level enforcers of segregation and miscegenation laws. We were the guys with the dogs and water hoses at Selma. Little wonder the relationship between the black community and law enforcement in this country remains badly broken.
Read the book to view from the inside looking out, a depiction a world most of us never see (or want to see.) And read it because it’s an exciting, well-written novel too.