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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark narrative of addiction, paranoia and sin, 13 Jan. 2011
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This review is from: A Scanner Darkly (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
A Scanner Darkly follows the legally ambiguous assignment of Bob Arctor. In a world where the government has lost the fight against narcotics, the law must turn to more and more radical ways to regain the control it has lost. Bob Arctor is a nark; a cop who masquerades as a user in order to infiltrate the paranoid hierarchy of the drug world and reach the dealers and distributors.

Philip K. Dick sets the book up to be part of the crime writing genre, undercover cop uncovers a dark conspiracy and moves towards a solution, but this gets lost within the first few chapters. The longer Arctor spends undercover, the more he loses his identity. His true identity seems even less real than his created one.

When Arctor is hauled in for questioning about his health and habits the pace of the book changes entirely. Soon Arctor is suveilling himself as well as the other suspects and loses sight of his assignment and his true self entirely. A whirlwind tour of the mixed up world of drugs and the people it attracts. When everyone else goes mad around you how long is it before you are forced to fall in line with them?

Or if you are the only sane person left, how do you know that you are not the only mad person in the room and everyone else is fine?

Dick weaves an incredibly dark narrative, drawing the reader into a world of addiction, paranoia and sin. The characters come alive from the instant they appear on the page and the world they are painted in is frighteningly not too far removed from our own.
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