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The Cure by Athol Dickson

Reviewed by Cheryl Russell

"Another powerful story from the author of River Rising."

Riley Keep found his calling deep within the Brazilian jungle. A missionary to The People, he rejoiced when they turned from their drunken ways to a life of peace and sobriety. But while on furlough to the States, something goes horribly wrong. Sure that he alone is responsible for what happened, the former teetotaler turns to the drink The People had rejected and begins a nightmare that will last for years. He returns to the States, but continues his downward spiral. Forced from his Dublin, Maine, home by his wife, he and his friend Brice spend their days in Miami, time swirling away like the alcohol they swig from a bottle.

But now Brice is dying. Rumors abound among the Miami drunks that a cure exists in New England, in Dublin, Maine. Riley is loathe to return, but knows that the withering fishing village is Brice's only chance at living. As winter slices into the small town, Brice and Riley arrive and move into the ragged homeless shelter downtown, with Riley unaware his act of mercy is a magnet to the evil from the jungle.

Most of the villagers don't recognize the prodigals returned home. But Willa Newdale, the tough little woman that runs the homeless shelter, knows right away the man beneath the layers of dirt and tangled hair and she's terrified. She's spent years hiding her identity, in fear for her life. Riley's appearance shatters her security and reawakens the demons from her past.

When Hope, the town's mayor recognizes him, it is more than she can handle. For her, Riley and death go hand in hand, as sure as darkness follows the setting sun. Already overwhelmed by the shear number of homeless overrunning Dublin, Riley's return puts her into a tailspin.

The Cure follows Dickson’s award winning River Rising. The plot is unpredictable and surprising, even though clues are sprinkled throughout the book. The final twist was chilling and, unfortunately, not unrealistic in today's world. Homelessness and the complex problems they bring are a strong component of the book. Corporate greed is another strong theme of the book and the author does a wonderful job weaving in the deceit and the actions of those unrestrained by ethics, driven by the bottom line, a common scene in today's headlines.

But the story is really about Riley Keep, whose efforts to do the right thing, destroy that which he's trying to help. Only when he remembers a key teaching from his seminary days, a concept that The People grasped early on, does he understand what he must do. He now must find the courage to see it through; the rest of his life depends on it.

While The Cure didn't pull me in to the extent of River Rising, it is still a powerful book, one that will remain on my bookshelf for a long time to come. Another powerful story from the author of River Rising.

Cheryl Russell lives in the Midwest with her husband and three children. Her short stories, as well as a few articles, have been published in print and online. She's loved to read for as long as she can remember and puts all that time to good use writing book reviews for Infuze, Novel Reviews, and Title Trakk. She's also a member of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, FIRST network, Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour and American Christian Fiction Writers. She's currently working on her first novel. If she could, she'd spend her time hanging out in the thermal areas of Yellowstone in general, Norris Geyser Basin in particular. Another favorite spot is Kennicott, an old copper mining town in Wrangel-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, which is at the end of a 60 mile dirt road, 8 hours west of Anchorage. She and her family are frequent hikers in the national parks, and have pounded the dirt trails in Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. You can visit her at her blog, Unseen Worlds or at her website.