A homeless man who looks forward to the drink that will bring him bliss. A small town mayor struggles to figure out how to combat a wave of unwanted visitors. A woman tries to help others but is secretly hiding her own past. A mysterious powder is found that will bring hope to millions that have been suffering. These elements are all brought together in Athol Dickson's Christy Award winning novel The Cure.
Riley Keep is a former pastor who had been a missionary, with his wife, to a native tribe in Brazil. However, while he was down there, something happened to cause him to abandon his faith, his family, and his morals. Years have passed and he has become a homeless drunk, almost unrecognizable to anyone who knew him from the past. He finds himself at a homeless shelter in Dublin, Maine where he seeks to take refuge from the outside world. Dublin also happens to be the town where Riley's estranged wife is the mayor. While in Dublin, Riley comes across a package that contains a substance that could cure millions, and that many will fight and pay dearly to acquire.
The setting of the novel, which takes place in a small Maine town, becomes another character in the story. The description of the area is convincing and Dickson uses the local usage of "Ayuh" to distinguish the townsfolk from their counterparts. This is a thought provoking novel that will leave the reader pondering long after finishing it. The whole story gives the reader the opportunity to think about what they would do in each situation and how a character might have had a totally different life if they had just changed one event. There are several instances where characters are faced with choices that may seem like a good idea at the time, but then are regretted later with painful side effects.
The story starts off a little slowly. At times in the beginning, it's hard to keep up with each character. However once Riley finds the bag with "the cure", the story then takes off and the reader becomes hooked (no pun intended). The suspense begins to build up and characters begin reveal themselves, events in the past are given full explanation, and the homeless almost become like the waking dead as they hunt for something to sustain them. While alcohol usage and addiction are main focus points in the story, they are not shown in ways that would entice anyone. Instead the reader sees how alcoholism can have a negative effect on everyone and how even someone like a pastor is not immune to it. The storyline comes off very realistic as it is possible to see an event taking place like this in the near future. By the time the conclusion is reached, there is a self awakening that happens for both the characters in the story and the reader. This does not come from a sunny, happy fairy tale story, but instead with a grim, dark, and bitter reminder of how harsh life can sometimes be.
The Cure deserves its Christy Award for suspense, as Dickson weaves a story that leaves the reader hanging on every word.