Title: The Scopas Factor
Author: Vincent Panettiere
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
In The Scopas Factor, a lost Hmong story cloth stitched by a Laotian refugee takes the world by storm. What was once an expression of pain and suffering becomes a commodity that leads to theft and murder. This crime-mystery novel takes its characters across the globe to return the stolen fabric to its rightful owner and restore its creator’s legacy.
A messy past causes Detective Mike Hegan to take a break from detective work. But when a Laotian-American teenager goes missing and becomes the first of a series of unsolved crimes, Hegan knows he needs to step in. It isn’t long before he discovers the story cloth’s central role in the crimes.
The first chapter of the novel tells the cloth’s tragic origin story. An affecting opener to the novel, the anguish, desperation, and hope that bleed through the pages of this first chapter make it the most emotionally connecting chapter in the entire book. The dramatic introduction will immediately intrigue and hook readers into the story.
Hegan travels to France to locate the story cloth, but if he wants to find, retrieve, and return it to its owner in the United States, he’ll need help. As he comes closer to solving the web of crimes linked to the story cloth, the stakes are raised, Hegan’s associates become sneakier, and he’s unsure whether he can trust any of them at all.
The novel’s plot line is intricate, with multiple characters narrating different sections of the novel, which create suspenseful, unpredictable events. However, the story is told in third-person point of view, which lessens the intimacy between characters and creates a bit of a disconnect with readers.
Hegan’s serious, stoic nature contrasts many of the larger-than-life, cheeky personalities of the people he works with, and the results are entertaining dialogue and witty banter that liven the serious matters in the novel. Though they serve for comedic relief, at times the light-hearted conversations take over significant amounts of text and feel like unnecessary filler.
Wanderlusts will revel in the constant change in setting, which quickens the novel’s pace, intensifying its suspense, mystery, and thrill. One of the best qualities of the novel, the descriptions of serene landscapes and exquisite architecture set the perfect backdrop for the dark, dirty business happening in plain sight. The change in setting makes the novel all the more dynamic, as the change from the United States to Europe shifts the novel’s tone to a darker, more serious one.
The ending of the novel is reminiscent of its beginning, with a moving, tear-jerking moment of reunion and reprieve. More moments like this throughout the novel would have made readers feel more connected and dedicated to the characters and the story.
What you do in the dark must come to light, and for the characters in The Scopas Factor, what they do in the dark is a matter of life and death. Secrets, mystery, and danger lurk around every corner in this murder-crime novel. With endless plot twists and high-intensity drama, Panettiere’s story of corruption, love, and loss is perfect for readers who love fast-paced action, crime, and mystery novels.
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