Both Dr. Alma Takesue, who works for the National Park Service and David Lajoy, a strong-minded animal activist, want to save the wildlife on Santa Cruz island which lies off the coast of California. But they can't agree on how it should be done. Takesue favors exterminating the invasive species (rats and wild boars) that are destroying the native inhabitants whereas Lajoy feels that all life, even those of rats, should be completely protected. And when their opposing ideas on the topic come into conflict, their emotions escalate until, finally, violence erupts.
T.C. Boyle, as always, expertly weaves several narratives together, creating a richly woven story in which two people who should be working for the same cause end up as bitter enemies. Boyle's depiction of the island is so vivid that the reader will want to hop the first ferry to Santa Cruz, but for all the description, the story is a page-turner.When the Killing's Done
is not only a gripping read, but a fascinating look into two characters who, despite their dedication to preserving life, don't really have much to live for. Both Takesue and Lajoy are miserable characters. Takesue, a humorless workaholic, is so gripped by worries over her carbon footprint that even brewing a cup of tea fills her with guilt. Lajoy, on the other hand, is so ego-centric and misanthropic that it's nearly impossible for the reader, or anyone else, to connect with him.
T.C. Boyle has written many wonderful novels, and When the Killing's Done
does not disappoint. I highly recommend this book.