I would like to tell you about a new book that came out this year that is definitely worth a read. The book is called “The Dolphin” and it was written by Craig Hallenstein, an Illinois native and an Illinois Voices supporter. This fictional thriller tells the tale of a man named Sean, a registered sex offender who gets “outed” by a rogue radio personality in New Orleans. Masterfully told, “The Dolphin” is a suspenseful “whodunit” full of mystery, intrigue, chase scenes, murders, and betrayal.
It seems like every day, you can read stories about registered sex offenders. The media loves to demonize those on the registry and write stories designed to scare the public with tales of dastardly deeds committed by “those people.” What’s less common are stories that present registered citizens as just regular people who have served their time and are now just trying to make their way through life like everyone else.
Hallenstein’s “The Dolphin” takes things one step further by writing about sex offenders through fiction, while still capturing the essence of the difficulties faced by those on who are forced to have their names on a public registry. He mixes myth-busting facts into his story, but just enough so that the reader is informed without being preached to. This book not only shows how people can wind up on the registry for ridiculous “crimes” such as Romeo and Juliet affairs and public nudity, but it also demonstrates how the media fuels the flames of public sentiment in order to increase its profits.
In the book, a Dolphin is an innocent person caught in the net of sex offender registration. “When the law goes fishing for sharks, it casts a wide net. Sometimes it catches a dolphin. Not supposed to. Just happens. Unfortunately, after they’re caught, most dolphins die in the net.” You might get the impression from reading the book that Hallenstein thinks only innocent people can be Dolphins. However, having personally met and chatted with him, I can tell you the author is a staunch advocate of Illinois Voices, and he believes that even those who are guilty of the crimes for which they were charged should be allowed the chance to rebuild their lives once they’ve served their time.
I personally found the book a bit difficult to get into at first, but that’s mainly because I have a difficult time keeping characters straight in my own mind. (Yes, I am the one who constantly asks, “Who is that again?” while watching a movie!) However, once I got to know and relate to the characters, I found it impossible to put the book down, finishing the last quarter of it in a single sitting.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with the feeling that there is no redemption for those on the registry, or that there is no way to go on after a conviction for a sexually-based crime. And if you enjoy a well-crafted mystery/thriller, then you will enjoy this book even more. I know I did.
You can read more about the book and the author, and order your copy, on the author’swebsite: