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When the Killing's Done

A Novel

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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

Dec 20, 2010 – Boyle (The Women) spins a grand environmental and family drama revolving around the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara in his fiery latest. Alma Boyd Takesue is an unassuming National Park Service biologist and the public face of a project to eradicate invasive species, such as rats and pigs, from the islands. Antagonizing her is Dave LaJoy, a short-tempered local business owner and founder of an organization called For the Protection of Animals. What begins as the disruption of public meetings and protests outside Alma's office escalates as Dave realizes he must take matters into his own hands to stop what he considers to be an unconscionable slaughter. Dave and Alma are at the center of a web of characters—among them Alma's grandmother, who lost her husband and nearly drowned herself in the channel, and Dave's girlfriend's mother, who lived on a sheep ranch on one of the islands—who provide a perspective that man's history on the islands is a flash compared to nature's evolution there. Boyle's animating conflict is tense and nuanced, and his sleek prose yields a tale that is complex, thought-provoking, and darkly funny—everything we have come to expect from him.

Customer Reviews

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.

When the Killing's Done
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Feb 22, 2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 384 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings