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BAN VINAI REFUGEE CAMP, THAILAND - 1990
No one knew the name or age of the person they called the Mud Woman. She seemed to have been a part of the Hmong exodus from Northern Laos since the first day of their journey. None could be certain. With her dun-colored bundle she was one of many solitary, nameless people on the trek. All were fleeing the Laotian army.
Sometimes the bundle was balanced on her head or slung over her shoulder. If anyone paid her any attention, that was the only change they saw from the start of their hurried flight to their final settlement in Ban Vinai, located some 350 miles north of Bangkok. She was just another piece in a coagulated mass of humanity.
The woman did not speak, and no one could engage her downcast eyes long enough to pose an inquiry. However, the depth of her soul-weary sadness did not require explanation.
There were cots and washrooms to provide shelter and warmth in a longhouse awaiting the new residents at Ban Vinai. The woman preferred a patch of dirt near the outer perimeter of the camp and settled in under the tarp rolled up in her bundle. Not until the others saw her remove some branches that had been whittled into tent pegs did she appear to be an enterprising woman, prepared for hard times.
She trundled her way to the chow line twice a day — in the morning for a breakfast bowl of porridge and later for a dinner of noodles and vegetables courtesy of some United Nations-sponsored refugee relief committee.
Relieved of the burden she'd carried for hundreds of miles, the woman exposed her time-worn visage, allowing all to see the impact of the pain she bore on her diminutive frame. Still, there was a vestige of energy in her eyes that belied her physical being.
In good weather, her days were spent outside her lean-to refuge, drawing in the dirt with a wooden stick. A joyous spirit emerged as she etched in the soil, even if her life contained more misery than pleasure. She was happy with her work, as though achieving a long-suppressed mission. When the runoff after a rain erased her drawing, she would recreate the sketch in the mud. The pleasure was less apparent in those times. Worry creased her broad forehead each time she feared the image would be lost. Then she hurriedly worked the stick in the ground to hold fast the picture in her mind.
No one realized she drew to remember, trying to keep the images alive so that one day others would know.
Occasionally, other camp dwellers would pass to observe her concentrated efforts at replicating the original dirt drawing. From that vantage she was referenced as the Mud Woman.
One day, as the Laotian refugees stood in the chow line snaking across the common area of the camp, they heard the word Nam burst through the low hum of conversation. Nam, Hmong for mother, did not surprise the camp residents, who were used to children calling for their mothers. No one reacted at first, being more concerned with moving forward toward the food. The word came at them again and again — Nam, Nam, Nam — containing more urgency each time, and those in line noticed the voice was not of a child, but of an older girl. This got their attention, and they turned to look while keeping their place in line.
At last, a girl of fifteen was spotted running down a barren hillside above the feeding area. Every step she took blew up a puff of dust.
With her arms flailing and legs splayed, the crowd of onlookers expected her to fall facedown and slide to the bottom at any moment, but the young woman stayed upright and reached the food line. Her journey was not finished, as she pushed her way through those in line with the same energy that propelled her downhill. Some thought she was deranged, and others knew she was scheming to get ahead of the line. The latter pushed back, resisting her advancement.
Though impeded, she continued forward at a slower pace, yelling, "Nam! Nam! Nam!"
The Mud Woman, until now, was absorbed in her own world. Something in the tone of those last words, whether their familiarity or anguish, caused her to turn and locate the sound.
She dropped her plate of food. "Mos! Mos! Mos!" she yelled in reply.
For several moments the others heard the staccato volley — "Nam! Mos!" — as the two called out to each other again and again. This continued until the young woman broke through the line and raced toward the older woman, who was running faster than anyone thought she could.
They embraced and fell to the ground — laughing, crying, smiling, existing only for each other. The crowd was silent except for the rhythmic shuffling of feet toward the food. They realized the young woman called Mos was the Mud Woman's daughter. Reminded that her name meant tender, they suppressed nervous laughter; the girl was anything but tender careering down the hill and plowing through the hundreds of bodies between them and the Mud Woman. One woman exposed the bruises Mos's elbows caused as she pushed forward through the crowd.
Several women in the camp brought plates of food to the Mud Woman's lean-to. Others passed by and smiled at the reunited mother and daughter. Soon, Mos revealed to her mother how she had become separated from their village and hid for days from the Communist insurgents who were terrorizing and attacking any Hmong they thought had aided the Americans during the Vietnam War. Fifteen years after the war's end, "cleansing," as the repressive forces called it, remained a government priority. Mos told her mother that she had somehow managed to elude the Communist patrols and painstakingly discovered the trail to the relocation camp.
Once the procession of well-wishers had receded, the Mud Woman began to recreate the drawing as she had practiced all these days in the camp. She wanted Mos to know of her secret.
Over the next few months, aid workers from an NGO began an outreach program of sorts toward mother and daughter. Why did the two choose to live separate from the others? The camp was expanding with new longhouses being built. Why were they content to live outside, in all kinds of weather, by themselves?
The Mud Woman insisted on their privacy, only venturing out into the swelling mass of refugees to stand in the food line or visit the latrine. One day she astonished an aid worker with her request for scraps of cloth and colorful thread. Mos, too, was surprised. What could those items generate? the young girl wondered.
Soon after receiving the material, Mos's mother began sewing. First came the green thread sewn into a series of inverted Vs. Beneath them came a blue, wavy line. Mos regarded the look of determination on her mother's face and realized something important was being created.
Occasionally, the Mud Woman would glance at her dirt drawing for reference. By the end of the week, Mos recoiled in horror at the message her mother had created. The young woman could not shake the image from her mind. She had lived it once. She had dreamed it daily and now saw it duplicated by her own mother!
She was sewing an image of their old village. The inverted Vs represented the fir trees on the mountains set above the blue, wavy line of the river. This was not a landscape.
But, why? We must not forget. But why? To make others remember.
When Mos looked at the finished cloth, she saw the story of the massacre in her village.
There were depictions of soldiers, their guns in black thread emitting streaks of red thread, simulating bullets tearing into villagers — both friends and relatives. She shuddered, despite the heat of the midday sun.
Mos refused to be consumed by emotion and searched the cloth for one more image. Then she saw the massive star, stitched in white thread. Mos knew for certain that this was a true depiction of the event. Instead of an eagle on each of his shoulders, which could not be duplicated at such a scale, her mother had sewn a star, larger than any other figure on the cloth, to signify their oppressor.
Mos knew why her mother had been relentless drawing in the dirt. It was a type of rote learning in three dimensions. She nodded in understanding as her mother rolled up the cloth.
A few days later the older woman's demeanor changed. While working on the cloth she seemed serene and determined; this day she was unusually agitated. Mos had never seen her mother this way during the entire time they had become reacquainted.
Once the camp had settled for the night, the older woman opened a seam that had been added to the bottom of the tarp that served as a roof. She explained to Mos that this was a secret compartment she had created to hide the cloth. This must never be revealed to anyone, no matter the occasion or relationship.
"Even should something happen to me," her mother explained.
"Never?" Mos said with teenage optimism as her mother sewed the cloth into the hiding place.
The next day, while Mos was in the washhouse, a truck with no markings roared into the center of the camp. A white man, the gold eagles on his shoulders signifying his rank, was accompanied by six heavily armed men. They were not Thai soldiers, nor did they wear any identifiable insignia. The only distinguishing feature the men possessed was the size and lethality of their weaponry. They were mercenaries. They pushed past aid workers who tried to intervene. Villagers who happened to be blocking their path were beaten by the soldiers' bamboo truncheons. They were a whirlwind of movement, circling the camp like a funnel cloud.
And, like a tornado, they created havoc and were gone.
Mos returned to the lean-to and found it flattened to the ground. The tent pegs were broken, and their meager possessions were strewn across the damp earth. She turned in a circle, squinting into the sun to see where her mother might have wandered.
A woman about her mother's age approached with a look of sorrow in her eyes.
Mos learned her mother was gone, dragged from the latrine into the truck. Taken away by the man with eagles on his shoulders.
Immediately, Mos tore through the wreckage of their campsite. Those who watched saw her examining the tarp with care. They wondered what could be important about the simple structure and wandered away before Mos found what she wanted. She was relieved to find the bulge in the seam of the tarp.
* * *
Tom Fitzgerald was twenty-one when he first heard of the United Nations refugee aid program. Soon after graduating from a small liberal arts college in the Midwest, he discovered that a degree in sociology along with a bus ticket could get him a ride to New York City. His former college roommate, Lance Revell, held out the promise of a place to stay.
"We can bunk together. Be like old times," was the phrase Lance had written. It echoed in Fitzgerald's head through the interminable bus ride, his beacon of optimism and encouragement. Visions of dorm life vanished as Fitzgerald made his way through the East Village section of Manhattan. Burnt-out buildings on Avenue A. Vacant lots filled with every sort of rubbish on Avenue B. By the time he reached Lance's address, six drug dealers had stopped him with offers of narcotics he'd never heard of. In twenty minutes he'd experienced more than all his years living in his hometown of Weedley, California.
His bunk in Lance's place was actually a pallet on the floor of a tiny one-room apartment. There was a hot plate and a small ice box that required a block of ice every two weeks. The shower was in the kitchen sink. Lance instructed Fitzgerald on the procedure: stand in sink; pull curtain up from your feet and attach to ring in the wall; shower using the hose attached to the faucet. The idea of water containing dirt from his body parts trickling into the kitchen sink where he would go to get a glass of water convinced Fitzgerald to use the so-called French whore method: wash face, soap under arms, dab at his crotch and anus, and he was set for the day.
The kitchen "shower" created a type of intimacy Tom had not known before. In the dorm, showers were down the hall, not in the kitchen. One day Lance stepped out of the sink while Tom drank a cup of coffee. Tom noticed the initials LR on Lance's left bicep.
"What's that?" Tom asked, unable to look away.
"You mean like cattle?"
"Yeah. Part of my fraternity initiation."
"Did it hurt?"
"What the fuck do you think?"
* * *
Lance was the first to escape from the Avenue C apartment. One afternoon when Tom returned from job hunting, he found two men plastering the wall that burglars had sledge-hammered wide enough for their entry. Inside, Lance was packing what major possessions remained after the recent break-in. The application he'd made before graduation was accepted.
He was off to Langley, Virginia, and CIA boot camp.
"Why? The war's over."
"Godless Communism" hung in the air as he shut the door.
* * *
An ad in the New York Times changed the course of Tom's life. After a cursory interview, intent on proving the applicant had a pulse beating inside a warm body, he received the requisite inoculations and was sent to Thailand.
Tom didn't stay in Bangkok long enough to have a bowl of noodles. He was crammed inside a land cruiser with two other UN personnel and their gear. 350 miles and eighteen hours later, Tom found himself at Ban Vinai, hungry and exhausted.
His arrival coincided within two days of the departure of the unmarked truck carrying away Mos's mother. At first, many of the camp's inhabitants kept their distance. He was considered a replacement for the white-man-with-eagles who everyone remembered had raided their camp and kidnapped an old woman.
Through a translator, Tom learned that Mos was the woman's daughter. She was reticent, and unwilling to acknowledge her mother was gone.
* * *
In the days that followed, Tom found himself drawn to the young woman. Whether it was out of kindness or something deeper, he couldn't determine. At least, he hoped that she would emerge from her grief.
What Mos admitted to herself, not to Tom or anyone else, was that her mother's work in depicting the massacre of her village represented her prize possession. She would revere it as if it was a sacred text.
Some day in an unknown future, the story cloth would be revealed to the world. Then, her mother's hard work and, she presumed, her sacrifice would not be in vain.CHAPTER 2
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS LATER - ARLES, FRANCE
The late-model, dark grey Peugeot sped down a narrow country road as it wound its way through the environs of Arles in France. The road was a slender thread penetrating vineyards that covered the countryside in a sea of green vines. Looming ahead was the cathedral built to honor an obscure saint, a gift from the grateful paysans of the region.
The Peugeot stopped in the cathedral's parking area. David St. Pierre, its driver, got out and scanned the distance from his position to the imposing structure, accessible only by climbing what appeared to be hundreds of steps.
A journey of a thousand miles, David thought, resigned to the trek. He set out, unaware of the mass of people traveling in the same direction. David was a handsome man. With the chiseled features and bearing of a magazine model, he looked to be younger than his fifty years. For what he was about to encounter, he appeared confident and calm.
When he reached the first of many steps, he noticed the multitude flocking toward the cathedral. Religious pilgrims, entranced by their mission, paid no heed to David. They "walked" up the steps on their knees, pausing to pray on each level. He saw that some were deformed and others crippled.
The sight of them made David realize the consequences of what he was about to confront. He lost some of his confidence but quickened his pace. Better to get on with it. Near the last dozen steps, as sunset approached, the shadow of the cathedral's spire loomed, menacing David. It spurred him to reach the top, open the heavy door, and slip inside.
* * *
Inside the dimly lit cathedral he made his way toward a side aisle. He was not prepared to discover all manner and type of brace, crutch, cane, and prosthesis hanging from the walls surrounding the auxiliary altar. He regarded them with more pain than hope, even though their purpose represented the hopes of the disabled to find a cure for their infirmities.
As he fumbled for a pack of cigarettes, David heard a quick rustling noise that fractured his reserve. He was relieved to learn the sound came from two nuns, white aprons over black habits, carrying feather dusters. One of the nuns spotted the cigarettes and admonished him with a wag of her finger. The denial of a smoke made his nerves vibrate. Once the pair rustled off, leaving him alone, his eyes, by now adjusted to the dim light, darted along the aisle, watching and waiting.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Scopas Factor"
Copyright © 2018 Vincent Panettiere.
Excerpted by permission of BookBaby.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It was the cover that first pulled me in to check out The Scopas Factor first. It seemed slightly at odds with the book blurb but I was suitably intrigued enough to give it a go. For anyone else, like me, that initially thinks this may be another generic crime novel the likes that have flooded the market these days, I found this to have a lot more to offer. The writing is particularly good and concise, not over-written like so many books are these days. Detective Hegen proves to be a strong protagonist, and despite me not having read the first novel in this series this was a good stand-alone offering on its own.
When Mike Hegan’s last case ends tragically, the detective hopes to put everything behind him. His girlfriend instead brings him along on a hopeful job opportunity to a small town in north California and little does he realize the web forming there to ensnare them both. Hegan finds himself thrust into the middle of a kidnapping and double homicide. When a link that is too close to home provides a lead, Hegan decides that he must dive deeper if he is going to get to the truth. Antiques, forged art, and foreign drug dealers all come together to make an on-your-toes mystery.Hegan is your typical somewhat damaged detective from the noir tradition. He is a well-rounded character and is interesting to follow as he attempts to piece together these varied elements into a conclusive solve. The emotional depth that Panettiere can bring out, because of how personal this mystery becomes is impactful. The reader can feel a certain amount of distress from Hegan as he continues to struggle to figure it all out. Hegan made this story such a joy to read and it is my hope that these books become more serialized as they go along. It would be interesting to see how he develops over time.Panettiere’s mystery is an expansive novel that straddles the fence between a mystery and thriller. The length of this novel works against the suspense, since some of the more filler passages work against the tension built in the story. But this is made up by his poetic prose, beautiful descriptions and clever dialogue. But at times I felt the pace of the story slowed because of this, this may be the only mark against him, since all the other elements of Hegan’s arc coinciding with the plot arc was brought together quite well by the end.Recommended for readers of thriller mysteries. Based on some of the more aesthetic qualities to this story, such as the forged art and antiques, those who enjoy such stories would not be disappointed either. This novel establishes Panettiere as a solid new writer in the mystery genre and I look forward to more of his work.Pages: 310 | ASIN: B07JP69TH3
The Scopas Factor, by Vincent Panettiere (author of These Thy Gifts and A Woman to Blame, whose protagonist is also Detective Mike Hegan). Published by BookBaby, 1st. edition, 2018. 310 pages (printed edition). Gender: Mystery. A Hmong refugee seeks asylum in Ban Vinai, Thailand, where she embroiders on a cloth the story of a massacre at the hands of the Laotian army and entrusts it to her teenage daughter. Mike Hegan, Detective of the Chicago Police, is back home after an investigation that had a tragic end on the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts. Hegan and his girlfriend Diana travel to a town in California to meet Diana's parents, and there they find themselves involved in a kidnapping and a couple of murders that somehow link Diana's father with the Hmong cloth and with a series of labels with the logo of the Revolutionary Flag of Gadsden. The issue will take them to Antibes, France, where Hegan must decipher a mystery involving forgeries, a sculpture by the greek Scopas and an international criminal network. With a very well achieved writing —typical to the genre of detective mystery— The Scopas Factor weaves a plot to which extra factors, well written characters and a well-articulated rhythm are added. The story is coherent and without errors or obviousness, and the novel is written impeccably, showing what must be shown and keeping the surprises for the right time. The plot is agile, seductive, fun, exciting and clear enough. Personally, I have quite enjoyed reading this novel. It seems to me that it has a very good rhythm and extension, and it is easy to read it continuously without getting bored at all. It is easy to sympathize with the characters, who are well built and not too stereotypical, which gives them space to move with ease and feel real. There is action without shocking demonstrations of violence, and there is romance without spilling honey. If you like mystery, art and la France, this book may be for you.
When Art and Crime are closely intertwined, I always read outstanding novels. I loved the story, the characters, the historical background that rooted in a small village in Laos and continued between France and the US. The title relates to a traffic of works of art, where the most precious work is not only a sculpture of a Greek artist (who gave the name to the novel), but a piece of fabric, snatched from a woman who survived a massacre. Afterward, the same woman is kidnapped by mercenaries. The piece of fabric is “the story cloth”, or rather, the proof of the scandalous connections between art smugglers and powerful American officers. What can I say more? Only that I’ll read this gripping novel over and over again.
An Eventful Combination of Romance, the Arts, and Crime I enjoyed this great book of romance, the arts, and crime so much because its structure is a mixture of simplicity as well as complicated. The simplicity lies in the fact that everything about its storyline felt so amateurish like for instance, the main character’s acquaintances and friends throughout the novel are easily connected (I was wondering how two women that seemed to be so far apart came to be known as two long-lost sisters from war-time Laos… and how they were also related to the wife and daughter of a mayor in California that the main character also stumbles upon. The complicated part I mention earlier is how the novel has a lot of characters and their own little storylines crowd up making me kind of forget about one part of the book and so and so. But through it all, I just loved it because of my affinity for the arts, Europe (especially France) and the charming main character and his sidekicks that are just a delight to read about. The background story of this book dates back to Laos and how a story-cloth there produced by a Hmong woman is the cause of frenzy in some characters in the book who are guilty of murdering this woman’s people therefore if ever he is to be found, he will be charged and possibly put to death. I would recommend this book to lovers of mysteries and crime stories. I also think those who have a liking for stories that involve the military, Eurasians, and everything revolving around those two elements. I loved the simple language used in this book making it readable and understandable, ha! I loved how the story takes place in France and then here in the USA. I found the references to French dishes in here to be delectable and suitable for this book. I just think the author’s crafting of his novel here was a bit too simple but that’s okay because the suspense and the romance made up for it. This book was so eventful there was no moment of slowness and blandness. Every part of the story there will be a shooting, a poisoning, a kidnapping, sex, and of course references to French and Greek artworks. It’s definitely worth checking out if you ask me. A great start to the Spring time that is arriving soon. Later!
Vincent Panettiere has already published four books, and now that I’ve finished “The Scopas Factor,” I’m going to buy the other three and hope they’re as good as this one! “The Scopas Factor” will have you turning those pages like crazy because you’ll want to know what’s going to happen next and ultimately solve all the mysteries with Mike. Mike Hegan is the main character of the book, and he’s a brilliant detective who wants to give up on his career because of the tragedy that concluded his last case (if you want to read the books in order, you’ve got to start with “A Woman To Blame”). However, his girlfriend persuades him to take up another case to investigate a double murder accompanied by a kidnapping in a small rural town. Reluctant at first, Mike eventually agrees to pursue the case for the sake of his romantic relationship and quickly becomes involved in a mystery that turns out to spread far beyond the town of Weedley.
Apparently this is the second novel that has featured Detective Mike Hegan, but I don't believe that it matters if you haven't read the first one to get plenty of enjoyment out of 'The Scopas Factor'. It is a mystery novel that takes you all over the world to figure out a number of conundrums that are somehow related. The characters, particularly Mike himself, are intriguing and empathetic, and you will be wondering right up until the end what their motivations truly are. If you are a fan of old school detective novels, 'The Scopas Factor' definitely has a film noir feel about it, but brought up to the contemporary age.
The Scopas Factor, by Vincent Panettiere, is an ambitious story full of adventure and intrigue. The book starts in 1990 in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in Thailand. The refugees are from the Hmong exodus from Northern Laos, fleeing from the Communist insurgents. One woman, known as the mud woman, refuses to live inside with the others and spends her days tracing pictures in the dirt. One day, Mos, her daughter, shows up and is reunited with her mother. While they are in the camp, the mud woman sews a recreation of the massacre in their village. After the mud woman finishes the cloth and shows Mos where she hid it, a truck of heavily armed men invade the camp and take her. Also, in 1990, we meet Tom Fitzgerald. He is a young college graduate who answers an ad to be sent to Thailand. From there, he is sent to Ban Vinai. He arrives two days after the old woman is taken. He meets and falls in love with Mos. We then skip to twenty-five years later in Arles, France, where David St. Pierre finds himself in trouble. He is an art forger who cannot deliver what he has promised to a dangerous man known as The Black. The item in question is the Hmong story cloth that the mud woman made. If he cannot get the cloth to them, he will be killed. After storming out of a lunch with his wife, Alexis, and his friend, Thornie, David disappears. Jump to Chicago, where we meet Detective Mike Hegan who has a history of getting the women he loves killed. He is dating Diana, who accompanies him on a trip to California where he will go to an interview for the police chief job and then on to meet her parents. Once in California, the story comes full circle as we find that the mayor of the little town is Tom Fitzgerald. He is married to Mos and has children with her. From there, we find that everyone is connected and involved. The Hmong cloth disappears and the chase is on to find it and to bring the bad guys to justice. The question of who the bad guys really are is featured heavily in the story. The book is very easy to read. The writing is well done and the story flows. I found myself very interested in what would happen next. One issue I had with the story is that there was almost too much going on. There were so many characters that it was a bit difficult to keep up. The only other thing I did not like is that some of the language was a bit antiquated. I am giving the book a solid 4 out of 5 because I really enjoyed the story. I would recommend it to anyone who likes adventurous mystery stories with a lot going on. This engaging novel definitely fits the bill.
Vincent Panetierre’s novel, The Scopas Factor, is an exhilarating and fast-paced thriller novel that is an overall enjoyable read thanks to a one-of-a-kind and multi-level plot. The story primarily follows Michael Hegan, a Chicago-based police detective who finds himself unexpectedly entangled in an international and multi-generational intrigue. Hegan is supported in the story by a motley crew of fascinating and enigmatic characters who weave in and out of story lines to create an absorbing web of mystery. Panettiere’s novel is entertaining to read and merits four stars due to its unique and innovative plot and the thrilling surprises that Panettiere skillfully pulls out at every turn, but it does have some areas where it could improve and become a truly amazing work. Panetierre’s novel begins with an instantly absorbing scene in a Thai refugee camp in 1990, where readers will be struck by Panettiere’s poetic writing style and beautiful descriptions of nature and people. The novel then switches gears to the present with police detective Michael Hegan and his spirited companion, Diana, as they travel from Chicago to rural California for a possible job interview. Through a series of peculiar events, Hegan soon finds himself halfway across the world in southern France, following a dangerous trail of a lost artwork that many are willing to kill – and die – for. In France, he finds much more mystery and danger than he ever could have anticipated, and readers will happily tag along with Hegan as he dives deeper and deeper into the world of international criminals. Admittedly, the twists and turns that the story takes are highly unlikely and require readers to stretch their minds beyond a reasonable belief, but no one wants to read about regular run-of-the-mill lives anyway, do they? Just accept that you will never find yourself in the same small French town with a gorgeous Laotian-American woman who will fall instantly in love with you (and is a fabulous chef to boot) and enjoy the ride. The Scopas Factor excels by creating a unique and complex story, unlike anything I’ve ever read before. At some points it feels reminiscent of other popular thriller and mystery novels, but Panettiere does not fall into the trap of clichés and “gotchas” as many others do. He keeps the plot fast-paced, fascinating, and surprising, with never a dull moment on any page. The three-hundred pages of The Scopas Factor fly by, and as I whisked to the end I was disappointed that it had come to an end, but glad to reach the conclusion of such an exhilarating work. Where the Scopas Factor could improve would be by spending more time developing its central characters. Panettiere spends the most time with the star, Michael Hegan, but even after reading the novel in its entirety, I felt as if I only knew Hegan on a superficial level. Hegan’s romantic relationships felt equally superficial, and I struggled to believe the passion in the scenes that Panettiere wrote. The novel contains many fascinating supporting characters – my favorites include maneater Alexis, mysterious Yvette, and the ever-hilarious, ever-British Thornie – but their personalities felt only skin-deep. In spite of that, though, I think that The Scopas Factor is a worthwhile and unique read that is sure to entertain.
The Scopas Factor is an action-packed mystery thriller novel by author Vincent Panettiere. The story is so full of secrets, lies, and mysteries that it is hard to put down until you get the answer. The book follows Detective Mike Hegan who is having a hard time after a failed case. But his girlfriend, Diana, has other plans and gets him involved in a new and very complicated place. How does a story cloth, revolutionary war battle flag, forged Picasso’s and Russian drug dealers fit together? That is what Hegan must find out to solve some murders and rescue some kidnapped victims. The book had an extra layer of excitement in it because of all of its settings. Between small town Weedley, San Francisco and Paris. Panettiere does a wonderful job of building up the settings in each of his locations, and the travel element of the book adds to the adventure of the overall story. It was also interesting to see the juxtaposition of the small town and the big city as a detective trying to solve a case. It also added to the complexity and excitement of the mystery itself. The beginning of the book leads us slowly through the lives of several characters, giving us brief glimpses into very different lives. While this is a somewhat slow start to the book to reach Mike Hegan’s character, I immensely enjoyed the buildup. For me, it added to the intrigue, mystery, and confusion of the story as you wonder who these people are and how they connect to the overall story. Detective Mike Hegan is an interesting character unto himself. Dealing with his dark past gives him a depth and intrigue, and I thought that he was a relatable character that was enjoyable and exciting to read about. Diana was another fun character that captures my interest from her abrupt and odd appearance that fits her character well. The book is an excellent mystery story that held a lot of great unexpected twists. I loved seeing all of the pieces fall together at the end. Panettiere shows a lot of skill in writing his characters and settings and clearly understand how to create an exciting plot. The book was a fairly easy fast past read that was engaging. I thought the story showed some interesting originality which set it apart from other mystery stories I have read. I would definitely recommend this book to mystery book lovers.
A mystery that spans ages and continents. A young girl, a life torn by war, a man submerged in curious circumstances. These are the tantalizing details that await readers of Vincent Panettiere’s The Scopas Factor. This gripping tale will have readers eager to devour the tale and learn more. There is an intricate attention to detail here that comes to writers who work hard to hone their craft and devote themselves to accurate portrayals. Beginning the story in the harsh circumstances found in a refugee camp with the Mud Woman we become witness to her fervent task. We are whisked ahead in time and to the other side of the world, coming upon a man, Mike Hegan, who seems to be as far removed from this situation as can be. But is he? What is his part to play in this masterful drama? Mysteries that confound the mind and bring exhilaration to readers are often hard to find. It requires an incredible commitment to attention to detail and they can often only be written by writers who are confident in their craft. An insecure mystery writer invites plot holes and cliché outcomes. This is not what readers will find with Panettiere. There is dedication in this book. Not only to research but to careful world building and character creation. There is nothing to dislike about this adventure, except for when it ends. This is not Panettiere’s first time writing a book and that is evidenced by his skill. His second novel was critically acclaimed, and this third book is also worthy of praise. Readers who have been following Panettiere since his debut will be happy to see the reappearance of Mike Hegan within these pages. Unfortunately, this writer has not had the pleasure of reading A Woman to Blame so cannot comment on the continuity of the character. Mike is a likeable character with realistic reactions and uncanny luck to be caught in such a situation, that much can be said. Devouring a good mystery while trying to trace the path and connect the dots is what readers will find in the pages of Vincent Panettiere’s The Scopas Factor. The characters are realistic, and this adventure will take readers across the world in search of the truth. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain from picking up a copy of this magnificent read and devoting a good chunk of time to unravelling its secret. You won’t be disappointed.
Detective Hegan from Chicago is on a leave of absence from the force after taking down the mob. Yet his vacation is not the one of relaxation that he was hoping for. Hegan and his not so serious girlfriend head to California for an unofficial job interview at a small town sheriffs office and to meet Dianas`s parents. Upon arriving in town for his interview Hegan stumbles upon the robbery of a story cloth that could put a war criminal, that massacred thousands of people, in prison for the rest of his life. This cloth also brings him to France where he works with Interpol and art forgery masterminds from all over the world. But a story cloth and art is only the beginning. This book is a great read and I would advise anyone to pick this book up. This book is for an adult audience though having sex, drugs, and major crimes in it. The book does a great job of telling the story in full. The authors ability to weave the characters lives together and give a clear description of who the characters are and what their roles are in the story is on point. I also feel like Panettiere did such a great job leading the reader through all the events and keeping the suspense. Every time I thought I had something figured out there was a twist and I had to rethink what I had thought I had known. I couldn’t put this book down and for being a little more of a shorter book in my opinion and captured me from the beginning and really help my attention all the way through. A fun little thing that could be done with this book is have a French dictionary near you whether a book or your phone and look up some of the things being said. There is not a lot of French but there is a little. The only thing I would add to this book is maybe putting at the end the French translations for the sentences in the book because there are so few. I think it would be fun for someone who doesn’t know French to be able to flip to the back real quickly and see what was said. Other than that I don’t have a single thing that I would change about the book except that I want more!!!!!
Definitely an intriguing mystery that is a compelling read from the beginning. The story is action-packed with wonderful characters and pulled me into the page-turning adventure. There were significant twists throughout that kept me guessing. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Mike Hagan, a veteran police detective, was forced into retirement on medical grounds, after his final investigation ended badly. Not wanting to take on anything else, he finds himself persuaded into taking one more job by his girlfriend. In the small Californian town of Weedly he finds himself in the midst of numerous intertwining mysteries. How do two murders relate to a Russian drug dealer, and what dodgy dealings has his girlfriend's father been involved with? Hagan will have to travel the world to solve the mysteries that have surrounded him, and it has only just begun. The Scopas Factor by Vincent Panettiere is a really accomplished novel that is seriously well written, with great descriptions and really well-developed characters. He has a great ability to set a mood and atmosphere, which helps to bring you into the story.
Vincent Panettiere’s third novel, The Scopas Factor features great intrigue and plot development as do Panettiere’s two previous novels. Detective Hegan, whom we have grown to champion before, takes on an even greater and more confounding mystery, which is not only expressly elusive but somewhat morphable, and leads him through personal doubts and concerns, as well as a wide geographical span. The devil-may-care, he-man behavior of Mike Hegan lends both attractiveness and credibility to his exhilarating character. Award-winning Panettiere’s ability is showcased at its sharpest yet in this thrilling, nonstop action mystery.
Talk about an author with an interestingly wicked background, writing a globe-trotting international thriller, taking place around the world. With skills similar to that of a black widow spider, Panettiere spins beautifully a woven masterpiece of a story. Twist and turns are subtle, to say the least. A true definition of the word detail. Inputting into fewer words rather than many. This sets the stage for that of a truly gifted writer distinguishability. Read what you can, save all that you have for these stories.
Ah, finally a mystery that pulls you forward rather than throws you in the shadows to lurk. This is a great story written by Panettiere, and his talent for writing really shows here. You can tell just by reading it what a creative and diversified person Panettiere is. We start off jumping right into the fray at a refugee camp in Thailand, and the rest of the story follows Mike Hegan, Detective, as he works his way through one twist at a time. Mike is a good man coping with some tough situations (like the shadow hanging over his head from his last case). There’s a lot of action, and a slew of very intelligently written characters. This story is well written and has a lot of twists and action that keep the story pushing forward in a great way.
Some men will do a lot to their girlfriends. Mike Hegan certainly is one of them. Mike is a detective and his last case ends badly. That's why he wants to start everything from the beginning. But his partner Diana has different plans so they end up in a small town and before Mike finds out he is in the middle of a mysterious kidnapping and two murders. Definitely it was not the way how he wanted start over. Furthermore Diana's father disappears so the story sets really interesting. ,, The scopas factor'' contains a intriguing, solid crime story and the main character seems to me like a real, live person with his doubts, emotions.
'The Scopas Factor' by Vincent Panettiere is one of those books that draw you in without you even realise it and before you know it 3 hours have gone by. There is a power to his writing style that intrigues and engrosses you in equal measure that simply makes you unable to put the book down. The story starts in Laos with the mysterious Mud Woman, one of many fleeing the brutality of the Laotian army who would spend her days drawing in the dirt with a stick. Throughout, the course of the novel you will learn how this relates to seemingly random things including an isolated community in the Asian mountains, Picasso forgeries, and a Russian drug dealer. Detective Mike Hegan is the man tasked with making the connections, and with kidnapping and murder thrown into the mix, he has quite the task on his hands. This is the first novel I have read from Vincent Panettiere, but I'm sure it won't be the last. The novel was exciting, tense, thrilling, and even insightful and informative. When it comes to contemporary fiction, it doesn't come much better than this.