Looking at T.C. Boyle’s website it is easy to feel a bit intimidated by the author. He actually looks as un-compromising and cool, driven and focused as his characters.
His latest effort is When the killing’s done. Like many of his books, this has an environmental theme and characters that are passionate and somewhat edgy. Set in the Channel Islands off the coast of California, the plot revolves around the driven and rather nasty Dave Le Roy, environmentalist extraordinaire who believes that all animal life should be preserved, and the equally driven Alma Boyd Takesue, who is intent on eradicating all ‘aliens’ from the islands so the native flora and fauna can survive.
At first it seems clear-cut: Dave is a complete loony and Alma has the right idea; who in their right mind would choose a rat over the survival of a native bird? However, Boyle manages to blur the edges nicely, and you find yourself starting to question rational reasoning or passionate logic over and over again.
It all gets rather nasty near the end, and arrival of some snakes just adds to the drama (this is where my massive phobia kicked in and I could hardly turn the pages), however it’s a great ending, and well worth the terror.