When the Killing's Done
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

When the Killing's Done

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  2,830 ratings  ·  616 reviews
T.C. Boyle's most powerful and fully realized work yet-"terrifically exciting and unapologetically relevant" (The Washington Post).

Principally set on the wild Channel Islands off the coast of California, T.C. Boyle's new novel is a gripping adventure with a timely theme. Alma Boyd Takesue is a National Park Service biologist spearheading the efforts to save the islands' na...more
Kindle Edition, 396 pages
Published (first published 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I love TC Boyle, and he writes enough that I can pick from among his novels based on the appeal of their subject matter. This was fascinating, a book about the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara, Anacapa and Santa Cruz. They've always been just a couple of big rocks to me-- but not after reading this book. Forever after, they'll be the location of this novel, which charts the ideological battle for possession of these bioscapes--on the one side, science and ecology represented by Alm...more
My recent tangle with mice and subsequent precarious dancing on that fine line between sanitary home and genuine rodentry has got me all introspective about invasive species.

Rodents, in particular, are funny. In pet stores, they’re pretty cute, but when they scurry across your kitchen counters and eat holes in the plastic bag surrounding your loaf of sandwich bread, they become some kind of otherworldly menace bent on spreading disease and filth. Nevermind that the pet store mouse and the common...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kind of a disappointing three stars here as I'm a long-time fan of Boyle's and the first 40 pages of this are so utterly amazing, I was ready for that the entire story, but alas, it wasn't to be. The first 40 pages is as good as it gets though, but unfortunately the story jumps into the near present and switches back and forth between characters on opposite sides of the fence regarding the de-population of the Channel Islands of rats, pigs and other animals killing off the natural habitat. One c...more
Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sam Quixote
The novel is about the struggle of man and his environment - of one day (19th century) introducing non-native animals to an environment and totally obliterating species that didn't know how to cope, and years later (21st century) trying to undo the damage this introduction did by killing the non-native creatures and re-introducing the native animals that weren't wiped out.

This is the main story of the book with the real life events of the extermination of rats from Anacapa island and afterwards...more
Not sure how to rate this book. First TC Boyle book I've read and I'm not sure if he's for me. I'll need to try another of his to know for sure. Also, I listened to this one and the readers voice bugged me. Unfair but true and that colored it for me.

I liked the story, the characters, the setting and the back stories through generations, but it was too much. Too much context and detail that I felt bogged down at times and just wanted to get through it. That happened less as the book progressed b...more
David Granger
I've been reading Boyle since he was the more formal T. Coraghessan Boyle, since Road to Wellville and other earlier works. For me, When the Killing's Done is his best work in quite some time.

Some might term it an environmental novel, because both the protagonist, Alma Boyd Takesue, and the antagonist, Dave Lajoy, are, in fact, environmentalists. But they find themselves at odds when the National Park Service, for whom Alma works, plans to kill off the rats on Anacapa, one of the Channel Islands...more
This is the book that led me to finding Goodreads. I was doing a search on the title and "vegan" because I was surprised (and disappointed, to be honest) that Dave LaJoy, the character who founded and ran the fictional For the Protection of Animals, was not one. The first time this is revealed, he is complaining bitterly about how his eggs are prepared. Later, there is a scene that acknowledges that this presents an inconsistency:
That was the day he gave up meat, cold turkey, and where did that
"When the Killing’s Done" is a story about two kinds of environmental crusaders. On one side, there is Alma Boyd Takesue, Ph.D, a National
Park Service biologist. She’s got “self control. And drive. And smarts,” and she’s the face of a plan to restore the ecosystem of California’s Northern Channel Islands — “The Galapagos of America.”

Alma wouldn’t be alive if not for the islands — they’re what saved her grandmother from drowning at sea when she was shipwrecked in 1946 — and she approaches the pro...more
William Koon
The late Bobby Charles (nee Robert Guidry) wrote a song called "(I Don't Know Why) But I Do." If you know the song better by Clarence "Frogman" Henry, no big deal. But that song expresses perfectly my regard for TC Boyle. Now in my younger days, if I met Boyle in a bar, I am sure we would end up fighting –and I am pretty sure I’d put the little fucker down. That he teaches at USC is a further fantasy of “who do you think your looking at, Willowboy?” But as irritating as he dresses and looks, he...more
Few novelists possess the chutzpah (or the talent, for that matter) to write coherent novels on a wide variety of disparate subjects and themes, with little trepidation of alienating his/her fanbase. Consider TC Boyle's body of work, which avoids pigeon-holing into a particular genre; he's written about topics as varied as turn-of-the-century health spas/sanatoria, the sexual dalliances of Frank Lloyd Wright, the explosion of migrant day-laborers in Los Angeles, free-love communes, and so forth....more
Rebecca Foster
It’s always a delight to see an environmental conscience creeping into fiction. This novel (one of my favorites of recent years) reminded me most of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom; in both books the central character is a committed conservationist worried about pollution, invasive species, and overpopulation - but still displaying hypocritical lapses.

When the Killing’s Done focuses on the invasive species on Anacapa and Santa Cruz, two of the North Channel Islands off the coast of California near Sa...more
Steve Betz
I’m going to get right to the point: T.C. Boyle’s latest novel, When The Killing’s Done, ought to be the book that is the lens through which we scrutinize ourselves as a society – not Jonathan Franzen’s it-book from last year, Freedom.

Focused on the Channel Islands (often referred to as North America’s Galapagos) off the coast from Santa Barbara, the novel interweaves the stories of two protagonists: Alma Boyd Takesue and Dave LaJoy. Takesue is in charge of the National Parks Service’s attempts...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bookmarks Magazine
Like the characters in the book, reviewers of When the Killing’s Done shared a passion that also divided them. All critics expressed their admiration for T. C. Boyle and his ability to find original drama in historical and contemporary settings. But they disagreed about whether he meets his usual standards here. Some critics felt that the complexity of Takesue, LaJoy, and other characters give this novel the moral ambiguity that they enjoyed in books like Tortilla Curtain. Others felt that the c...more
This is a great example of a novel that explores a really complicated issue through the lens of specific characters and their interpersonal conflicts. In this case, the complex issue is environmental (hence my immediate interest): the protagonist of the book is a National Park Service scientist attempting to restore California's Channel Islands ecosystems by killing off (in fairly gruesome manner) various invasive species, like rats and pigs, that are driving the native animal populations to ext...more
Feb 12, 2011 Shinynickel marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Off this review: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archi...

T. Coraghessan Boyle’s new When the Killing’s Done falls in nicely with the mood of Margaret Atwood’s vatic sci-fi tales or Jonathan Franzen’s recent, naturalistic Freedom with its impassioned defense of birds. Though he’s been writing for a long time about America’s problems, Boyle usually does so more covertly, in a comic voice with comedy’s concealed agenda. Here, though, there’s the note of the preacher in despair that has surfaced som...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Never one to shy away from sacred cow territory or the ruthless ways in which humans stampede it, T.C. Boyle's latest wise epic puts ecologists on a restless collision course with agitated animal rights activists. In his vintage style of tackling issues with snarling drama and incendiary humor, Boyle plots a political novel without sending the reader a preachy message, although he comes right up under it.

Boyle turns eco controversy on its head, turning back to the theme that man's desire to keep...more
Misha Crews
I have to be honest, I'm probably not smart enough to give this book the kind of review it deserves. Within this story there are patterns and subtext and all manner of allegory which I can sense, but not fully identify.

What I can say is this: this is a character-driven novel, and although none of the characters are really pleasant people, I liked all of them, in spite of myself. Not that I'd want to go and have coffee with any of them, but they all upheld their own ideologies with the kind of s...more
T. C. Boyle is a great storyteller. I don't just mean his actual telling of the story, which I know, having heard him read one of his stories, he does with a fluent, flamboyant relish. It is also the way the story is written, paced, replete with active verbs, imagery, and movement. Boyle is a writer who engages deeply with environmental problems and the inherent external and internal conflicts faced by environmentalists and conservationists. If that was what he set out to do in this book, it is...more
TC Boyle often chooses topics that are controversial and socially relevant. This is no exception. This story focuses on two opposing groups- both seeking THEIR greater good- animal rights versus what is best for the natural environment/ecosystem. Woven throughout both sides are personal flaws in their discordant thinking- and as a result, it would be difficult to accuse Boyle of pushing his own agenda. Alma is a biologist, seeking to rid a CA island of animals that do not belong there- that made...more
Jun 28, 2012 Tiah added it
I liked it a lot, but did not love it. Some of this is my fault for coming into it with expectations of greater suspense / conflict than is actually presented. I also am very annoyed about the kindle formatting errors - almost one per page. These are not easily read over errors, such as a slight mispelling or a questionable comma, but jarring splits in words, odd insertion of symbols, random capitals inside a word, mashed words etc. This is why I almost never buy quality fiction on kindle and st...more
Boyle, T. C. WHEN THE KILLING’S DONE. (2011). ***. In this latest offering from Boyle we are thrown into the ever present conflict of man-against-nature and especially nature run amok. The setting is the Barrier Islands, known as the Galapagos of North America, just about eleven miles off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA. The islands, because of their relative isolation, serve as home to a variety of birds and mammals that don’t appear anywhere else on earth. These animals are being slowly forced...more
Anne Broyles
When we lived in California, we were fortunate enough to go out to the Channel Islands numerous times. Sometimes called “America’s Galapagos,” these islands are populated with creatures that have evolved to live in their particular environment. Tiny foxes the size of house cats, birds whose size differs from island to island, pinnipeds and cetaceans galore. I have hiked these islands, camped on some of them, boated around them. So I was drawn to T.C. Boyle’s book, which explores ideas of restora...more
When I pick up a novel by Boyle, I can always be assured that:
a-I will not be bored.
b-I will learn a few things about a given subject, and probably (certainly) a few new words, too.
c-The characters will be complex human beings, often very flawed but not aware of it, or in denial of it, or working hard to convince themselves otherwise with self-deluding and convoluted feats of reasoning and justification.

WTKD scores on all three counts. The environmental and historical situation of the Channel I...more
I had to read this after reading Barbara Kingsolver's review in the NY Times. She is one of my favorite writers and reviewers because she is a biologist. I'm a biologist too, so reading Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer-- is fiction about biologists a genre? I guess it's a rare one-- was especially thrilling for me. The same for When the Killing's Done. Boyle represents the science and the scientists well. Alma Boyd Takesue, PhD is trying to live her life and do work she is passionate about--removing...more
I liked this book but wasn't engrossed in it as I often am by
novels. It's an impassioned account of environmentalism surrounding
the Channel Islands off the coast of California, and an even-handed treatment of the moral questions that arise with the problem of invasive species. Should they be allowed to run amok - live and let live approach (in this case, they're not a problem) - or, does the havoc they wreak on native plants and animals warrant their eradication. I hadn't read anything by T.C. B...more
Sheli Ellsworth
T.C . Boyle breaks all the rules. He indulges his readers with a smorgasbord of verbiage—sometimes brilliant and other times nonsensical and masturbatory. His unique torque on adjectives is probably illegal in several red states. He oscillates writing styles, points of view, and protagonists; the book almost reads like a trilogy because of the distinctly different approaches. And somehow, Boyle makes it work.

Much of the environmental story takes place off the California coast on the Channel Isla...more
TC Boyle's novel When the Killing's Done pits dueling factions of animal-diggers against each other in a bloody battle. In one corner is Alma Boyd Takesue, a researcher bent on killing the zillions of rats who have unnaturally come to habitat a small island off of California. The furry-faced rodents are mucking up the ecosystem, killing off birds and throwing things out of whack. In the other corner is a dreadlocked veggie head named David LaJoy, who believes it is ethically irresponsible to kil...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Headhunter's Daughter: A Mystery
  • Wolf: The Lives of Jack London
  • Caribou Island
  • West of Here
  • Red on Red
  • Lost Memory of Skin
  • Centuries of June
  • I Hotel
  • Emily, Alone
  • A Very Private Grave (Monastery Murders, #1)
  • Trapped Nerves
  • Rodin's Debutante
  • The Wilding
  • Imperial
  • The Barbarian Nurseries
  • Day for Night
  • The Terror of Living
  • Child Wonder
T. Coraghessan Boyle (also known as T.C. Boyle, born Thomas John Boyle on December 2, 1948) is a U.S. novelist and short story writer. Since the late 1970s, he has published eleven novels and more than 60 short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988 for his third novel, World's End, which recounts 300 years in upstate New York. He is married with three children. Boyle has been a Distinguis...more
More about T.C. Boyle...
The Tortilla Curtain Drop City The Women The Road to Wellville The Inner Circle

Share This Book

“Sometimes, when she's out here alone, she can feel the pulse of something bigger, as if all things animate were beating in unison, a glory and a connection that sweeps her out of herself, out of her consciousness, so that nothing has a name, not in Latin, not in English, not in any known language.” 8 likes
“But then all writers smoke, don't they? And drink? And sit in front of computer screens till their arteries clog and muscles atrophy?” 1 likes
More quotes…