When the Killing's Done by T.C. Boyle
A Novel

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Synopsis

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.
 

About T.C. Boyle

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T.C. BOYLE is the author of nine short story collections and twelve novels, including World's End, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award; Drop City, finalist for the National Book Award; and the New York Times bestselling The Women. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he lives near Santa Barbara, California, and is a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.
 
Published February 22, 2011 by Penguin Books. 396 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for When the Killing's Done

Kirkus Reviews

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A provocative premise delivers considerable literary dividends.

Feb 08 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

The New York Times

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In a narrative fueled by high-octane symbolism, we first get to know LaJoy as he is gobbling eggs delivered by a dodo-like waitress, prior to loading up the vitamin K and heading to the islands for a hard day of rat salvation.

Feb 18 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

The Guardian

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Well, when DDT finished off the native bald eagle, which isn't much of a hunter, the carnivorous golden eagles moved out from the mainland to prey on the wild pigs thriving in the great stands of fennel that sprang up after the island was closed to sheep-ranching (pigs, fennel and sheep all, of c...

Mar 19 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

Examiner

And when everything else is gone, and the rats are trapped on an island, they will either swim away, clinging to anything that floats, or they will eat each other and leave the island desolate and uninhabited.

Apr 18 2012 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

Book Reporter

Rats, Alma argues, are a non-native species, brought to the islands by humans and now threatening the very survival of many of the island's rare bird species.

Mar 28 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

AV Club

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If Boyle intended to suggest any ambiguity on whose path is wisest, he failed, but When The Killing’s Done nonetheless feels true to its characters and startlingly clear-eyed in its assessment of a tough environmental issue.

Feb 17 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

Los Angeles Times

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"It takes a moment for her eyes to adjust, the shapes manifesting themselves all at once — furred, quick-footed, tails naked and indolently switching, a host of darkly shining eyes fastening on her without alarm or haste because she was the interloper here, the beggar, she was the one naked and w...

Feb 20 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

The Telegraph

Related Articles San Miguel by TC Boyle: review Their conflict forms the backbone of the novel, but there is much pleasure to be extracted from Boyle’s long diversions into the backgrounds of the minor characters – the grandmothers, the g...

May 03 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

Dallas News

Even as the death of one of the animal rights activists turns the novel dark and darker, the natural setting remains what it has always been: “The night is like the first night the island ever saw,” Boyle writes, “still, enveloping, silent but for the regular thump of the waves, the sky close and...

Feb 24 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

Oregon Live

As the leader of the FPA, Dave attempts to sabotage Alma's endeavors.

Feb 26 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

Review (Barnes & Noble)

In the end, Alma comes to her senses, or at least reveals that she has some: "She is a killer, of pigs, of rats, of fennel and star thistle and of the introduced turkeys that will have to be removed in good time, a killer in the service of something higher, of redemption, salvation, but a killer ...

Feb 22 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

About.com

(The astute reader will notice the rats that Alma's grandmother encountered when she clambered her way onto Anacapa Island after the shipwreck.) Of course, Alma's nemesis, Dave LaJoy, intends to save the animals that the park service wants to remove.

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Seattle PI

So for those of us happily stomping about in our leather boots and chomping away at our steaks and even - heaven forbid - a hot dog or two, there is something compelling about the concerns of these vegetarian defenders of animal rights.

Nov 30 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

The New Yorker

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Mar 21 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

Rolling Hills Consolidated Library

In classic Boyle style, controversial topics are examined in a very personal way through the eyes of complex characters with competing interests.

Aug 15 2012 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

The Ecologist

Boyle’s latest opus might be a bit of a bonkbuster but it makes a serious point about the threat posed by non-native species to the world’s ecosystems The controlled extermination of non-native species on the islands of Anacapa and Sant...

Apr 07 2011 | Read Full Review of When the Killing's Done: A Novel

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