When the Killing's Done
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From the bestselling author of The Women comes an action- packed adventure about endangered animals and those who protect them.
Principally set on the wild and sparsely inhabited Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara, T.C. Boyle's powerful new novel combines pulse-pounding adventure with a socially conscious, richly humane tale regarding the dominion we attempt to exert, for better or worse, over the natural world. Alma Boyd Takesue is a National Park Service biologist who is spearheading the efforts to save the island's endangered native creatures from invasive species like rats and feral pigs, which, in her view, must be eliminated. Her antagonist, Dave LaJoy, is a dreadlocked local businessman who, along with his lover, the folksinger Anise Reed, is fiercely opposed to the killing of any species whatsoever and will go to any lengths to subvert the plans of Alma and her colleagues.
Their confrontation plays out in a series of escalating scenes in which these characters violently confront one another, and tempt the awesome destructive power of nature itself. Boyle deepens his story by going back in time to relate the harrowing tale of Alma's grandmother Beverly, who was the sole survivor of a 1946 shipwreck in the channel, as well as the tragic story of Anise's mother, Rita, who in the late 1970s lived and worked on a sheep ranch on Santa Cruz Island. In dramatizing this collision between protectors of the environment and animal rights' activists, Boyle is, in his characteristic fashion, examining one of the essential questions of our time: Who has the right of possession of the land, the waters, the very lives of all the creatures who share this planet with us? When the Killing's Done will offer no transparent answers, but like The Tortilla Curtain, Boyle's classic take on illegal immigration, it will touch you deeply and put you in a position to decide.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
Ok, but not his best
I'm a huge fan of T.C. Boyle, having first read his short story "Greasy Lake" as a freshman in college. I was hooked and fascinated ever since. Boyle shows his uncanny ability to capture local detail and exhibit almost innate knowledge of his subject in this novel. His character development is also, as usual, quite strong. However, I don't think Boyle ties the various story lines that he engages in together well enough; the reader is left wanting a bit more finality and resolution. As with "tortilla curtain", I was so excited toward the end of the book, only to be disappointed and bewildered by the ending, as if Boyle simply decided that the book was getting too long, and he should simply end the story. I had hoped for a little more follow-through toward the end. This is a solidly average book, but nothing more.