The story of an alcoholic, The Cure by Athol Dickson is a five-star book. This is a strongly written story, but one must suspend belief to make it work. Riley Keep, an alcoholic who a few years ago lived in the small town of Dublin, Maine, returns to the town with a fellow alcoholic, Brice, in search of a cure. There have been rumors floating among the people living on the streets as far south as Florida that there is a cure for alcoholism and to be found in Dublin. When Riley and Brice arrive, they eventually find themselves living under the roof of a building managed by Willa Newdale, a woman who takes in all those who need a place to sleep.
Riley looks nothing like what he did when he had left town, kicked out by his wife, Hope, who is now the mayor. No one recognizes the former minister - except Hope, who braces herself for the unwelcome reunion.
Things don't go as planned, and Brice dies before they can find the cure. Riley sinks even further into his addiction, even sneaking into the church during services in the hopes of stealing some of the money being offered up by the congregation. However, when he opens up the envelope, he notices there isn't any money in the envelope except for an anonymous note and a bag of white powder. Here is the Cure. And, after one taste, he loses his desire for alcohol. The note, however, warns that whoever takes the cure, will have to stay away from alcohol forever. One taste, and the need for drink will be stronger than ever.
After Riley offers up the powder to as many alcoholics as he can, he runs out. Pandemonium strikes as the others demand a portion of the cure, and his life is now in danger because no one believes that he doesn't know how to obtain more powder. A riot ensues, and Willa disappears. Riley is later accused of murdering her.
When Riley later strikes a bargain with a huge pharmaceutical company, word gets out that the price for this cure will be $5000, only allowing the rich to partake. There is no hope for the thousands of alcoholics living on the streets. Riley, however, returns to Hope, cleans himself up, and now no one recognizes the homeless man who formerly lived on the streets and was accused of Willa’s demise. For a while he's safe, but not for long.
The Cure is a story about a man's search for a cure to alcoholism, but it is also his yearning to assuage the guilt over a crime he thinks he committed years ago. Riley’s alcoholism grew out of a series of events that took place while he and his wife were missionaries in South America. Things got complicated when another group of people whom Riley thought were fellow missionaries joins them. Flashbacks to this time in his life continue to haunt him, and little by little the reader learns the reason for Riley's tremendous guilt.
The Cure is filled with intense emotions - guilt, love for an ex-wife and daughter, and a great need to right a wrong. No matter what Riley does, his intentions go awry and he creates a worse situation. This is not an easy book to read, but once the reader connects with the characters, it will be a story that one will remember for a long time. If I had to choose my favorite book read so far this year, it would have to be The Cure.