3 out of 4 stars
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The Scopas Factor is a crime thriller by Vincent Panettiere. Chicago detective Hegan and his partner Diane visit the small town of Weedley, where Hegan has an interview for the job of chief of police. While there, they meet some of the town's colourful characters, including Feeney, a detestable firefighter. Feeney has his eye on the beautiful young Kia, daughter of Mos, who runs the local diner, Yum's. During a forest fire, Kia disappears, much to the anguish of her boyfriend, Eric. Later, Hegan and Diane discover the body of Feeney, who has clearly been murdered. Kia is still missing...
Panettiere quickly and deftly characterises Mos's mother, the cloth artist known as "The Mud Woman", at the beginning of the book. Her actions and eccentricities define her beautifully over the first few pages. Similarly, though this book has a large cast of characters, they take on lives and personalities of their own as we progress through the story. The villainous Skeggs is a particularly frightening character. The well-written dialogue also sounds natural and realistic.
I liked the author's writing style, finding it easy and enjoyable to read. When the story moves to the south of France, Panettiere depicts the town of Antibes with ease, demonstrating either genuine local knowledge or thorough research. His solid construction of the setting includes the local markets, food, culture, and samples of the French language, adding real atmosphere to the story. There are also plenty of plot twists and mystery to keep the reader intrigued, with the last puzzle pieces only falling into place right near the end of the book.
Unfortunately, The Scopas Factor has around twenty typographical errors in total; I found ten by halfway through the book. These errors are mainly with punctuation, missing letters, or the use of an incorrect word. There are also a few formatting issues with new paragraphs started unnecessarily, occasionally in the middle of a sentence.
Overall, I found The Scopas Factor an entertaining mystery, rich in detail, with plenty of twists to keep the reader's interest. If not for the errors, I would rate it 4 stars. In its current state, it gets 3 out of 4 stars. Fans of mystery and crime would enjoy this book, especially those who enjoy strong characters and like to read about other cultures. It does contain sex and violence, including gun violence, but neither is depicted in a graphic or gratuitous way.
The Scopas Factor
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