James Ellroy's latest work is LAPD '53, is a nonfiction photographic history produced in collaboration with Glynn Martin of the Los Angeles Police Museum.
From Ellroy's Q & A with Kevin EG Perry for Vice:
Did you have a personal favorite of the stories in LAPD '53?--Marshal Zeringue
The Mabel Monohan case [the murder of a 64-year-old widow who was thought to be sitting on a fortune in cash]. I went into that in great detail. LAPD assisted on that case, but it was actually a crime from Burbank, an LA suburb which has its own police department. It was made into a ridiculous anti-capital-punishment weeper called I Want To Live! with Susan Hayward, directed by Robert Wise, in 1958. It's got a great jazz soundtrack by Gerry Mulligan, the king of the baritone sax. It's a real hophead soundtrack. It made me want to shoot up.
What was it about that case that made it stand out?
The viciousness of it. They beat an old woman to death for a stash of $100,000 that never really existed. It was also the fact that the two killers, Jack Santo and Emmett Perkins, had killed six people up in Sacramento County, including an entire family: a grocer, his wife, and two of his children. Barbara Graham, Jack Santo, and Emmett Perkins were all sent to the gas chamber in '55.
In the past couple of years we've seen incident after incident where the actions of American police officers have served to increase social tension and unrest. Does the American police need to be reformed?
I don't think the police need to...[read on]