The great novelists's newest book deals with a real place - the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara, California - and a host of fictional characters, including Alma Takesue, the soft-spoken National Park Service spokesperson; Dave LaJoy, the animal rights fanatic and Takesue's nemesis; and a host of rats, snakes, pigs, foxes, birds and fauna.
Takesue and her side want to
rid the islands of feral pigs and rats; LaJoy wants to preserve them. Within this battle, the book's auxiliary elements are laid out - relationships, racism, and moral courage - and the history reaches back several generations in laying out the story.
Boyle has gloriously detailed the origin and the landscape of the islands and his characters, but this one falls a bit short of his truly classic releases like
The Tortilla Curtain, Water Music and Budding Prospects. There are the
usual Boyle twists and turns, but When the Killing's Done doesn't quite capture the emotional pathos of his earlier works.
If you're a Boyle fan, you're still going to read this one and enjoy it, but probably not as much as his older novels.