If you've ever looked out at the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara and wondered if anything went on out there besides wildlife and oil spills, novelist T.C. Boyle has your answer as he reads and signs his latest book, When the Killing's Done (Viking Adult, $26.95). Weaving a heartbreaking and complex tale of two conservationists working toward what they think is the betterment of life on the islands, the war zone in this particular saga, Boyle unveils the fractious and fractured lives of biologist Alma Boyd Takesue and dreadlocked local home-electronics chain store king Dave LaJoy. Alma wants to exterminate the invasive species the rats and pigs from the islands, while Dave, and his long-suffering folksinger gal pal Anise Reed, want none of the invaders eliminated. It all comes to a head when Dave eventually takes matters into his own hands, and someone meets a deeply sticky end out there at the edge of the endless sea. Equal parts cynicism and realism, Boyle's riveting morality play reflects the sneaking suspicion that, even in the remotest reaches of the planet, man's good intentions eventually will become less like an improved road than like an invading virus.
Thu., April 7, 7 p.m., 2011