When the Killing's Done

When the Killing's Done

by T.C. Boyle

Arlene Almas: I have always liked this author for his direct, down-to-earth writing style and the subjects he chooses. This story concerns Alma Boyd Takesue, a National Park Service biologist whose focus is the ecology of the Channel Islands off the coast of California. The issue of native versus invasive species is a major topic among ecologists: should scientists intervene to protect or restore native plants and animals that may be endangered or even close to extinction due to the encroachment of new species which have been introduced, usually by people, even if it means exterminating those new invasive species? Alma very strongly favors this type of intervention, and works to that end on both Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands; she and her staff are vigorously opposed by Dave LaJoy and his group of activists, who engage in dubious and even dangerous activities in order to wage their struggle against any type of animal killing no matter what the justification. Along the way Boyle gives us background on Alma going back two generations, as well as the personal histories of other key characters. I thought this was a fascinating and very human depiction of a most contemporary subject.
Rating: *****

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