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When the Killing’s Done: A Novel Audiobook, by T. C. Boyle Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: T. C. Boyle Narrator: Anthony Heald Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2011 ISBN: 9781483072364
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,064 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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From the bestselling author of The Women comes an action-packed adventure about endangered animals and those who would protect them.

Principally set on the wild and sparsely inhabited Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara, T. C. Boyle’s powerful novel combines pulse-pounding adventure with a socially conscious, richly humane tale regarding the dominion we attempt to exert, for better or worse, over the natural world. Alma Boyd Takesue is a National Park Service biologist who is spearheading the efforts to save the islands’ endangered native creatures from invasive species like rats and feral pigs, which, in her view, must be eliminated. Her antagonist, Dave LaJoy, is a dreadlocked local businessman who, along with his lover, the folksinger Anise Reed, is fiercely opposed to the killing of any species whatsoever and will go to any lengths to subvert the plans of Alma and her colleagues.

Their confrontation plays out in a series of escalating scenes in which these characters violently confront one another, contemplate acts of sabotage, court danger, and tempt the awesome destructive power of nature itself. Boyle deepens his story by going back in time to relate the harrowing tale of Alma’s grandmother, Beverly, who was the sole survivor of a 1946 shipwreck in the channel, as well as the tragic story of Anise’s mother, Rita, who in the late 1970s lived and worked on a sheep ranch on Santa Cruz Island. In dramatizing this collision between protectors of the environment and animal rights activists, Boyle is, in his characteristic fashion, examining one of the essential questions of our time: Who has the right of possession of the land, the waters, the very lives of all the creatures who share this planet with us?

When the Killing’s Done will offer no transparent answers, but like The Tortilla Curtain, Boyle’s classic take on illegal immigration, it will touch you deeply and put you in a position to decide.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A smart and rollicking novel, with suspense and shipwrecks galore…Boyle proves his mettle by grafting a page from the strange-crime annals into a life-and-death story of evolution, shipwrecks and dominion over the earth…Character, science and history co-evolve marvelously here in a tale of fanaticism gone literally overboard.  Boyle devotees will find everything they expect in the way of manic plotlines, flamboyant obsessions, and cool comeuppance outlandishly delivered.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Terrifically exciting and unapologetically relevant…Boyle’s white-water prose propels us through sixty years of tumultuous history involving the Northern Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura, California. Long a master at scenes of quick-moving crisis, Boyle punctuates this plot with some of the best disasters of his career…Gripping.”

    Washington Post

  • “Mudslides, earthquakes, floods, fires—nothing quite gets T. C. Boyle’s juices going like a natural disaster putting his characters through a wringer…[Boyle’s] jazzy, slangy, iridescent style could scarcely be more of the moment…He writes lyrically, beautifully—about the ocean, the land, about California history and its pitfalls and perils…Boyle makes us laugh and wonder at his dazzling gifts but his comedy is a dark business.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “The wind-racked, sun-cooked, fogged-in, rain-drenched, mostly-but-not-quite-altogether-wild Channel Islands—this novel’s primary setting—are made for Boyle’s robust language and relentless rhythms…the rage, obsessions, and tragic self-righteousness that drive many of Boyle’s characters in his other novels are in full swing here, but they’re somewhat tempered by sincerity and epiphany.”


  • “The Pacific coast is anything but pacific. It’s cold, rocky, harsh, fogbound, the perfect place for T. C. Boyle to bring together all his themes…And he is at his best here.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Boyle’s play-by-play skewering of a contemporary environmental standoff modeled on real life events is as dramatic and richly textured as his best work.”

  • 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…It’s an exciting narrative, incorporating tragedy, anger, and a satisfying amount of natural history.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “There’s nothing reserved about T. C. Boyle, the maximalist whose never met a scene he couldn’t spin into a fireworks show…The opening shipwreck scene will leave you wearing a life jacket in the bathtub…When the Killing’s Done may be the world’s first island-biogeographical thriller.”


  • “Boyle combines this strong commitment to the sheer entertainment of a well-told story with a fervent insistence that we think for ourselves.”

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

  • “Boyle spins a grand environmental and family drama revolving around the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara in his fiery latest. Boyle’s animating conflict is tense and nuanced, and his sleek prose yields a tale that is complex, thought-provoking, and darkly funny—everything we have come to expect from him.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Incisive and caustically witty, Boyle is fluent in evolutionary biology and island biogeography, cognizant of the shared emotions of all sentient beings, in awe over nature’s crushing power, and, by turns, bemused and appalled by human perversity. Boyle brings all these powers and concerns to bear as he creates magnetic characters and high suspense, culminating in a piercing vision of our needy, confused, and destructive species thrashing about in the great web of life.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “T. C. Boyle excels at rollicking black humor, and humanity’s attempt to control the environment provides him with ample fodder…Narrator Anthony Heald dials up the irony an extra notch. He employs a strident tone to capture LaJoy’s volatility and slightly increases his pace for LaJoy’s inner dialogue, though which the biologist expresses constant irritation with life’s inconveniences. Heald’s hippy-dippy voice for LaJoy’s friend, Wilson, is marvelous fun.”


  • “Boyle is no stranger to environmental fiction…Here, Boyle delves deep into environmental philosophy by creating two characters passionate about saving animals but in diametrically opposed ways…Boyle uses the conflicts between his characters to explore the changing philosophy of human and animal relationships. Whether we regard this work as environmental fiction or a philosophical treatise on land ethics, Boyle has delivered yet another quandary to ponder.”

    Library Journal

  • “Read this engaging and lively and timely story, with the truths on both sides of the human arguments neatly dramatized, weighed and balanced, and a wild homage to the power of the natural world.”

    All Things Considered

  • “In one of his richest and most engaging novels, Boyle characteristically combines a dark sense of humor and a subversive streak as he illuminates the dark underbelly of all-American idealism…A richly detailed back story provides additional context, as Boyle nimbly plays chronological hopscotch…The novel never reduces its narrative to polemics—there are no heroes here—while underscoring the difficult decisions that those who consider themselves on the side of the angels must face. Narrative propulsion is laced with delicious irony in this winning novel.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • An AudioFile Editors’ Pick
  • A BookPage Book of the Day in March 2011
  • One of the 2011 Bookpage Most Anticipated Book
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • Selected for the March 2011 Indie Next List
  • A 2011 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lani | 2/18/2014

    " Book club pick. Such a rich story, and his portrayal of how macho and self-righteous men in the animal rights movement can be is spot-on. I feel like I've met one of the main characters a few times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mia | 2/18/2014

    " I really love TC Boyle--I need to read more of his work. He has a great story telling style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danica | 1/27/2014

    " I would say a 4.5. I love TC Boyle and this is no exception. He takes on a complex issue of invasive species and makes it into an exciting adventure showing both sides of the issue and in the end letting us decide what we think. The setting is painted with expert story telling and the characters are deep and feeling. Not as heart wrenching as Tortilla Curtain but just as insightful. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kearstin | 1/21/2014

    " While there were some pieces that captured my imagination, overall a bit trite and not provocative. Finished it for book club, but otherwise would not have bothered. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 1/11/2014

    " Boyle's best in years. Great story and characters, and loved the setting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elese | 12/27/2013

    " I appreciated learning about the natural history of the Channel Islands. Otherwise, it doesn't hold a candle to Drop City, which is one my favorites. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Corinne | 12/10/2013

    " Complex, lovely and set in Southern California, which always pulls me in. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 11/2/2013

    " A very fine and satisfying read. T.C. Boyle is a terrific writer, and his story of the battle between environmentalists and animal rights advocates is exciting and informative. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Richard | 8/12/2013

    " Boyle always keeps it moving and wraps it up very nicely as always! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Emily | 8/28/2012

    " 2 1/2 stars: Despite the fact the killing's never done, it doesn't leave this book into anything resembling interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josie | 3/25/2012

    " Fabulous story starring the Channel Islands off of Southern California. The majority of the story deals with a fictional account of the removal of the pigs off of Santa Cruz Island. The story is told from the perspective of an animal rights activist and also a NPS ecologist. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 12/22/2011

    " Not my favorite Boyle book. It was interesting to read about nearby locals, but it was difficult to like the two main characters. I much preferred The Women and Tortilla Curtain. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 10/18/2011

    " environmentalist book. interesting, thought-provoking look at both sides of an environmental conservation issue. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mindy | 8/5/2011

    " I think Mr. Boyle is probably my favorite living author. This is not my favorite book he has written but it was very, very good. I love books that make me think and examine the good and bad in all of us. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Valerie | 8/3/2011

    " Animal rights activists battle the Park Service over its plan to poison rats and shoot feral hogs on two islands off the California coast in an effort to save the indigenous birds and mammals. There are no good guys or bad guys in the well-crafted and complex characters Boyle has created. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 shinfu | 6/19/2011

    " Overall a good book. This was the first book I read from this author and I thought it was a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vincarter | 5/22/2011

    " Great character development and vivid depiction of conflicting contemporary concerns about impacting and preserving the planet. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauren | 5/16/2011

    " This book really borught to mind the issues surrounding animal rights, overpopulation, and the environment. It definitely made me think long and hard about both sides of each issue. The book was very intense, as it presented the clashing ideals held by the main characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nannie | 5/12/2011

    " Presents both sides of the issue although the believers in no killing come off as the bad guys/wackos. Still did bring out points from both sides that make the reader think about the issues involved. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vicki | 5/12/2011

    " National Park Service biologist seeks to save indigenous animals on the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frederick | 5/7/2011

    " Man's relationship to the animal kingdom is explored here. Boyle is part Darwin, part Melville and part Edward Abbey. He's also got the best sense of humor of any living novelist.

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 5/1/2011

    " A very well-written book. I love T. Boyle's use of language and this book combined an interesting ecological message with a really good story.

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bob | 4/25/2011

    " Another good one by Boyle. He's great at taking complex issues and showing both sides of the argument. He never takes the story where I expect it to go. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Dorinda | 4/19/2011

    " Just too balck and white on issues that are not so to keep me reading past page 77 "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 4/18/2011

    " love love tc boyle all out of proportion "

About the Author

T. C. Boyle is the author of more than a dozen novels, including Drop City, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and World’s End, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award. He has also written numerous short-story collections. He lives near Santa Barbara, California.

About the Narrator

Anthony Heald, an Audie Award–winning narrator, has earned Tony nominations and an Obie Award for his theater work; appeared in television’s Law & Order, The X-Files, Miami Vice, and Boston Public; and starred as Dr. Frederick Chilton in the 1991 Oscar-winning film The Silence of the Lambs. Heald has also won numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards. He lives in Ashland, Oregon, with his family.