Intervention. In all our communities, we and our neighbors usually share views that are polar opposites. In T.C. Boyle’s new novel, When the Killing’s Done, he presents the extremes of environmentalism: scientists working to restore ecosystems by killing invasive species versus the animal rights activists who want no animals killed. Boyle builds complexity and empathy into each character, and the conflict in the novel matches the high-decibel rhetoric that dominates our community life. Both sides of this conflict intervene in the ecology of California’s Channel Islands. This may be the first Boyle novel that did not have me stop to run to my dictionary every few dozen pages. He maintains his fine style of writing without the distraction of using a vocabulary that strains a reader’s patience. As with other fine novels, this is also a story about family and relationships, and each relationship contains complexity and nuance that will keep readers engaged and entertained. Boyle is one of our finest writers, and this novel respects the intelligence of readers and leaves it to us to consider the issues he raises.
Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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