-- packing heat and a pen
When LA Rex came out last fall, I read it and thought, "hey, this dude's got some style.... he's crazy, but
he can put a nice sentence together." As it turns out, I didn't know half of it, on either point. As I looked into writing
a story on him, I found that not only is he really crazy, he's got some mad style, too.
I caught him at the Festival of Books alongside T. Jefferson Parker, Denise Hamilton and Tod Goldberg in a panel discussing
the challenges about writing fiction set in Southern California. Looking at his book jacket photo and reading his prose, I
figured Beall would be a gruff, growly guy, in love with his authenticity as a cop and a novelist.
I was very, very wrong.
Beall has been a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department
for over eight years. He is currently assigned to the 77th Division. His
assignments have included patrol and the anti-gang unit, and recently he began working homicide.
When asked about why he started writing, Beall said, “I've always been
a compulsive scribbler, writing everything down that I see and feel. If I had more artistic talent, maybe I would sketch things.
I've been doing this forever, since long before I came onto the job. But when I made the decision to become a cop, I actually
decided that I had to put that behind me. My first week on the job, every night when I came home from work, I would just talk
to my girlfriend at the time, until two in the morning, about everything that happened all day. So, within a week of working
in 77th, I realized I needed to write about this. And I started filling up notebooks and legal pads. I don't remember exactly
when I decided to write the book, but somewhere along the line I had this idea of doing a story about this kid who was just
Beall’s debut novel, L.A. Rex “As far as everyone in the squad room knows, Ben Halloran is completely
fresh to the streets of the 77th Division, a soft kid from the West Side who's decided to become a cop and just happened to
draw the hardest neighborhood in L.A. But demons from Ben's complicated past catch up with him-and his tough, oddly principled
Daryl Gates-era partner, Miguel Marquez-all too quickly. From the moment Ben and Marquez hit the streets together, they're
pulled into a web of ultra-violent corruption and retribution involving hardcore Crip gangbangers and tagalong gangsta-rap
gloryhounds, L.A.'s Mexican Mafia, sleazy celebrity defense attorneys, and dirty cops with distinctly self-serving definitions
of law enfrocement. Ben is forced to choose among father figures and apparent destinies-trying to obey (and discover) his
own moral principles as well as his desperate animal instinct simply to stay alive.”