Book Review: "When the Killing's Done" by T. C. Boyle
What do you get when you cross influential, determined biologists, well-to-do, radical animal lovers, eccentric-yet-lovable retirees, wild animals, attractive rollicking seas and the beautiful California central coast region? Another one of T. C. Boyle's tales with a purpose.
In When the Killing's Done, alternating chapters are narrated by the level-headed protagonist Alma Boyd Takesue, a National Park Service biologist, and by her foil, the hot-tempered antagonist Dave LaJoy. Dave is a local businessman who, in fierce opposition to the schedeled "elimination" of invasive animals, will go to great lengths to sabotage the aims of the park service and the work of Takesue.
What both of these determined characters forget, though, is the impartiality of nature and its powerful ability to upend the most carefully laid plans of man. These three forces at odd lead to some riveting scenes that involve several fascinating people, wild and breath-taking scenery and intricately woven events. In classic Boyle style, controversial topics are examined in a very personal way through the eyes of complex characters with competing interests.
With a timeline that spans several generations, this story set in the beautiful Northern Channel Islands and neighboring Santa Barbara is rich with the detailed observations and passionate reflections of two very strong characters whose paths sometimes cross in unexpected ways. As with many of Boyle's works, the reader is left with many questions, including "Who is the bad guy here?"
-- Review by Jennifer Callow, Belt Branch reference assistant