Dolphin Key

Jon Land, Author Forge $17.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-312-87249-6
Though he is better known for his international thrillers, in this slim paean to controversial dolphin therapy Land makes this second foray into softer terrain, following Hope Mountain. After abusing and abandoning his first wife and daughter, Vietnam vet and alcoholic Mike Fontana is himself abandoned by his second wife, who leaves him with their young son, Joe. The responsibility of being a single parent motivates Mike to sober up, and just in time, for within a year Joe is diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. When the boy's cancer goes into remission, a development attributed in part to dolphin-human therapy, Mike opens up his own healing center, Dolphin Key, in Key Biscayne, Fla., where he helps disabled children overcome their handicaps with the assistance of half a dozen captive dolphins. Meanwhile, Mike locates Katy, his daughter from his first marriage; she is in prison serving a two-year sentence for a series of juvenile crimes. Mike offers to effect Katy's release out in return for six months of volunteer community service at Dolphin Key, hoping the dolphins will work yet another miracle on his recalcitrant daughter, and also bring father and daughter closer together. The plot thickens: an animal rights activist is determined to shut down Dolphin Key, Joe's cancer appears to have come back and Katy's justifiable anger spurs her to sabotage Mike's good works. Will the dolphins keep Mike from drinking, cure Joe again, soothe Katy's anger? Is there a Clarence Darrow-type character willing to volunteer his services and save the center? The formulaic plot fosters little suspense, but Land does a credible job of presenting the perspectives of both animal rights activists and supporters of dolphin-human therapy. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1999
Release date: 11/01/1999
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