In a camp for refugees in Laos, Mud Woman is just one of many. She stays to herself and constantly draws in the mud. When her daughter eventually visits the camp, Mud Woman starts to sew. When the story cloth is finished, she hides it, instructing her daughter never to reveal the sordid tale of brutality and violence to anyone. The following day, mercenaries (maybe the same ones who destroyed her village?) capture Mud Woman and carry her away; she is never seen again.
The Chicago Police Department has placed Mike Hegan on leave. He’s looking for some time to reflect after the tragic conclusion of his previous case. When he and his girlfriend Diana visit the small Californian town of Weedley, they come to the conclusion that not everything is as it seems. Why does he constantly seeing the “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden flag? What does it signify?
When they go to see Diana’s parents in San Francisco, the flag reappears. Hegan becomes suspicious that Diana’s father might be involved in criminal activity, and as a result, he is drawn into a global conspiracy involving drug trafficking and the forging of works of art. The Scopas Factor by Vincent Paniettere tells a story that includes the Gadsden flag, fake sculptures, a mystery figure known as The Black, the Hmong story fabric made by the Mud Woman, kidnapping, and murder.
I didn’t know when I started reading that this was the second in a series. I could have benefited from reading the previous book before this one, but I was able to follow the plot as a stand-alone quite fine. With sufficient backstory, both the main characters and the more significant minor characters are well-drawn and given a sense of depth and dimension. Even the terrible guys (well, most of the bad ones) are humanised and given enough background information for the reader to understand how they got to where they are.
It took me a little while to follow the plot because it didn’t begin from Hegan’s point of view. However, once I got into it, it was an exciting read that was difficult to put down. Hegan did a good job of figuring out how all the seemingly unrelated components fit together to solve the puzzle. There is mystery, suspense, a hint of romance, and never-ending action. Read The Scopas Factor if you enjoy mysteries and suspense novels. My first Panettiere book, but it won’t be my last, was this one.
About The Book
A Hmong “story cloth,” a Revolutionary War battle flag, forged Picassos and a Russian drug dealer—finding the link between these disparate elements is the challenge Mike Hegan faces in The Scopas Factor, the latest mystery from Vincent Panettiere.
After his last investigation ends tragically, Detective Mike Hegan returns to Chicago from St. Kitts, hoping to put everything behind him. But his girlfriend, Diana, has other plans, and although he has no interest in the job opportunity she presents him—in a small northern California town, no less—he wants to please her. Upon his arrival in Weedley, he’s caught up in a kidnapping and two murders.
A visit to Diana’s family in San Francisco only serves to deepen the mystery, as her father might be the link to a gang of antiquities thieves that might have something to do with the crimes in Weedley. And when Diana’s father disappears, Hegan takes off for Antibes in southern France, where he discovers that the mystery has only just begun.
The Scopas Factor
What an intreaging crime novel set. This is detective Mike Hegan's story. He is returning to Chicago after finishing his last case. Unfortunately one that went so badly, that he is in no rush to take another case for awhile. But his girlfriend Diana already has a job lined up for him in a near where her parents live. Mike reluctantly agrees to the job and they head west. But when they get there the case is not so simple and he soon finds himself in the middle of a theft and a murder case. The worst part is Diana's father may be involved in some way. Then all of a sudden Diana's father vanishes. And he has to figure out what happened to him as well. He finds what clues he can and ends up traveling to france to look for her dad. But will he figure it out in time and find Diana's dad. Thiss book was a fun and interesting read that I had a hard time putting down.
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