TC Boyle does a great job skewering the hypocrites who sully noble ideals (or exposing the reality of supposedly higher callings, I suppose). He tackled immigration in The Tortilla Curtain, and he’s done it again for animal rights in When The Killing’s Done.
We start by meeting Beverly, who’s on a boat and not feeling too good. Her boat is wrecked and she spends days marooned on an island with nothing but rats for company (not a spoiler, this is mentioned in the flap). We then meet Alma, Beverly’s granddaughter, who now has the unenviable job of exterminating the rats from said island. She encounters opposition from animal rights activists Dave LaJoy and his girlfriend Anise Reed. Their lives connect in interesting ways throughout the novel, which flashes back to the Forties and Seventies, too.
Now. This novel had a little more ‘action’ than I anticipated in a Boyle story, but I like to be surprised. I did not expect to feel such visceral dislike for LaJoy, however. I suspect not everyone would experience such an immediate disgust, but I recognised his self-serving, self-rationalising narcissism and vindictiveness. Let’s just say I know someone who’s just like that.