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Extended Audio Sample When the Killing’s Done: A Novel, by T. C. Boyle Click for printable size audiobook cover
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) Author: T. C. Boyle Narrator: Anthony Heal Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by 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 by 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 by Danica Ramgoolam | 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 by 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. "

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