What do you get when an atheistic science fiction writer checks himself into a Catholic rehab center? You get St. Mary Blue, one hell of a read. Good drama requires conflict, and Jake, the cynical atheist, adjusting to the St. Mary Rehab Center offers plenty of conflict.
Relying on his wry sardonic wit, he copes with institutional food at the "Constipated Eagle" and fellow patients like Snake, the biker, and Elliot, the sanctimonious Episcopal priest. Along the way the Angela, Jake's head councilor, is transformed from his chief inquisitor to his first real hero.
Tension builds as Jake prepares for family week when his strong yet vulnerable wife, Ann, will confront him with the thoughtless and dangerous behavior that led him to St. Mary's.
Will Jake be among the center's successful graduates or will he succumb to his addictions? I don't want to give the ending away, but the book is somewhat autobiographical and judging from Barry B. Longyear's web site, he and his lovely wife Jean are living happily ever after in Maine. I like happy endings and I like St. Mary Blue.