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The Missing Element (James Becker Suspense/Thriller Series Book 2)
 
 

The Missing Element (James Becker Suspense/Thriller Series Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

John L. Betcher
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

BY A USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR.

FINALIST - Readers Favorite Book Awards for Fiction

PRAISE FOR THE MISSING ELEMENT:

“The Missing Element is an action-packed, high-stakes suspense thriller. Through well-developed characters and deftly intersecting plotlines, author John Betcher relates a riveting - and disturbingly realistic - tale of intrigue, mystery, and high-tech espionage. Fans of the genre are sure to find themselves engrossed in the unfolding action of Betcher's fast-paced narrative, and his skillful storytelling stands out as a key element in the overall enjoyment of the well-crafted tale. Taut, compelling, and highly entertaining, The Missing Element is a dynamic read. The latest thrilling offering from an exciting new literary voice.” APEX REVIEWS.

“The Missing Element is well-written, the plot is intriguing, and the characters are interesting. Betcher draws you in from page one and holds your interest to the very last. Unlike many recent novels, Betcher takes his time tying up the loose ends and concluding the story. This book is obviously the beginning of an exciting new series of suspense novels for Betcher. The Missing Element is highly recommended . . . “ READERS CHOICE REVIEWS.

“I was impressed all the way around with the writing, the plot, the whole story. As I finished the last pages I closed the book very satisfied that all the loose ends had been tied and hopeful that I could follow the roads that Beck travels again...” Sheila A. DeChantal, Book Reviewer & Blogger.

“Sure this was a great mystery and it was complex and diverse enough to keep me totally interested while both Beck and his wife must get involved in order to stop what would have been a world-wide "information" disaster. So if mysteries are your interest, The Missing Element by John L. Betcher is excellent reading. But if you are also a fan of the late Robert B. Parker and/or fun snappy dialogue, then I move this into the must-read category for you! For myself, you might have already realized that I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with James Becker, et. al., and look forward to meeting them again in their next mystery! GA Bixler (PA), REVIEWERS ROUNDUP

“This is such a good book. It is written at the perfect pace that keeps you turning page after page after page. It is hard to believe this is the author's first mystery novel. The characters are wonderfully developed, my favorite character of the book is Bull, an American Indian, with some very special skills and a very dry wit. The plot is one that may scare anyone who uses a computer, which today is everyone, when you realize this story can actually be true. Are machines running the world? Are humans THE MISSING ELEMENT? Lori Caswell, Book Reviewer and Blogger.

SUMMARY:

After decades of clandestine government operations, James "Beck" Becker and his wife Elizabeth return to Beck's childhood home town to enjoy a settled retirement in the small Mississippi river community of Red Wing, Minnesota. But "settled" is a relative term and no matter where Beck goes, intrigue follows.

When Minneapolis computer genius, Katherine Whitson, disappears under peculiar circumstances, her husband exploits a sympathetic Red Wing acquaintance to enlist Beck's aid in finding her.

As Beck searches for Katherine, the tangled trail leads from her luxury Minneapolis Warehouse District condo, through her husband's extra-marital escapades, past the entrenched hierarchy of elite computer professionals, and into the mind-bending world inside computer microprocessors.

Katherine's kidnapping is clearly more complicated than a typical abduction.

As it turns out, the Beckers must use all of their considerable experience -- his as a military intelligence operative; hers as a CIA code-cracker -- to save Katherine and bring her abductors to justice.

About the Author

The author holds a Bachelor’s Degree, cum laude, in English from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis. He has practiced law for more than twenty-five years in the Mississippi River community of Red Wing, Minnesota. He has also been a long-time supporter and coach of youth volleyball there. He is the author of the "Beck" suspense/thriller series and the international spiritual phenomenon, A Higher Court.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 413 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1469936909
  • Publisher: John L. Betcher; 2 edition (26 Mar 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003E3608G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #186,334 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Amazon TOP 100 and Nook TOP 100 Bestselling Author, John L. Betcher, holds a Bachelor's Degree, cum laude, in English from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis. He has practiced law for more than twenty-five years in the Mississippi River community of Red Wing, Minnesota.

Mr. Betcher has published an award-winning series of "Becker" suspense/thriller novels. The first five are THE 19TH ELEMENT, THE MISSING ELEMENT, THE COVERT ELEMENT, THE EXILED ELEMENT, and THE CRITICAL ELEMENT. He has also authored the award-winning spiritual phenomenon, A HIGHER COURT.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Base 15 Aug 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an easy read. It flows along comfortably enough and the characters are lively, and gently humorous. As the first in the Beck series it will invite readers to sample the later offerings, although the '19th Element' story chronologically pre-dates this tale.
It should appeal even to those female readers who are not great fans of guns, kidnapping and computers, as us chaps seem to be, because Betcher is at pains to include the minor daily details that (here is a sweeping generalisation) female authors include much more than male counterparts. For instance, the back and forth banter of the marriage relationship and minor domestic events are made much of even though they do little to advance the story line and in fact do little to round out the characters after the first couple of chapters.
There are unnecessary details where the writing needs tightening. For example, on getting a phone call we are told "I pushed the button to receive the call." as if Beck's answering didn't tell us that. This sort of thing happens quite often. And: "The garage door opened obediently. I parked the Pilot, closed up the garage and went inside through the back porch into the kitchen...cut through the dining room and foyer to the living room." Step by step transitions lead to lack of the crispness this genre needs.
The main concern is that there is not enough put in the way of Beck and his team to prevent them from achieving the objective. It is obstacle and set-back that makes for tension and to be honest this feels a shade bland.
Nevertheless a fair beginning, and Beck, his missus, Bull, and Red Wing will gather followers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining mystery/suspense novel. 9 May 2010
Format:Paperback
The Missing Element is the story of James "Beck" Becker and his wife Elizabeth, who have returned to Beck's childhood home in Red Wing, Minnesota to enjoy retirement from their covert government jobs. Of course, life is anything but quiet with Beck around.

When Katherine Whitson, a Minneapolis computer genius, disappears under mysterious circumstances, her husband George calls the local police. After receiving no help from police, George then solicits a Red Wing acquaintance to convince Beck to help find Katherine.

Beginning at Katherine's luxury apartment in the Minneapolis Warehouse District, Author John L. Betcher puts his protagonist through a labyrinth of red herrings. Beck's investigation starts with George as the unfaithful husband, and then moves to his lover, to Katherine's work colleagues, and on through the ranks of an influential computer company, and into the overwhelming world of computer microprocessors before he can begin to find answers.

To solve the mystery of why Katherine was kidnapped--and to save her--Beck must draw on his resources with the FBI and their computer experts, as well as the expertise of his wife Elizabeth, the former CIA agent.

Betcher leads us into the world of advanced computer technology and international espionage with this captivating suspense thriller. As we follow Beck on his quest to locate Katherine, we are introduced to several colorful characters. There is the Ottawa County Sheriff's Deputy, Doug Gunderson, and his wife, Connie, who enlist Beck's help. The brawn in this story is provided by the enigmatic Terry "Bull" Red Feather. Bull is drawn into the story when Beck requests his assistance in dealing with the nefarious characters who try to stand in his way.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Husband and wife ex CIA 27 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A good read. A bit predictable but with so much out there originality is rare. This is a well written novel with an interesting story, good character development but you have to suspend belief a little; that's ok though, it is a story and not real life!
There is humour, intrigue, a few twists and turns; enough to make this almost un-putdownable! Also considering the price, excellent value for money.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Knight in Shining Armor ... 23 April 2010
By Alex S - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a lighthearted detective mystery with two brand new protagonists ... Beck, who formerly worked in "secret activities" for the federal government is now living in his home town, as an attorney. However, since attorney work can be boring, his wife Elizabeth accepts his decision to pursue "extracurricular" detective work. Of course, Elizabeth, being a crack on the computer also accepts assignments in her field.

In this novel, their unique talents come together when Beck begins a search for a missing Computer Specialist. Eventually, as the case comes together, he and his wife (now called a computer goddess, since she obviously isn't a geek) each work in their area of expertise to resolve all of the details.

What makes Beck unique is that he is totally enraptured with his wife. From making her cheese cubes complete with toothpicks and drinking wine together with her as they go over the case, to giving her a massage, to making sure she isn't bothered or worried, Elizabeth comes first.

There is much humor in this book as well - at one point, in order to NOT tell his secretary what he's been up to, he makes up a story involving Orangs at the zoo ... A tale that no one could believe, but it gets him "off the hook" - probably because she's afraid what he'll come up with next if she demonstrates disbelief in his wild tale.

If I have one criticism, it's that the intensity level seems a bit too low for a kidnapping case, although towards the end, there is more of a feeling of a clock ticking. Perhaps it's just that I don't see Beck relaxing, sleeping, doing paperwork, flirting with his wife, while a woman's life is on the line.

The story itself is believable, the characters hold your interest, and most of all, it's a fun story.

I am grateful to have received a copy of this novel from the author for review.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cerebral detective story based on a plausible, even likely premise 15 April 2010
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a longtime teacher of computer science and a self-admitted computer geek that sometimes works in security, I recognize the plausibility of the fundamental premise of this story. Computer chips are manufactured in foreign countries and it is very possible that pathways are included that would allow malicious programs to run.
James "Beck" Becker has retired from his former role as a clandestine operative for the federal government and is now working as a lawyer in Red Wing, Minnesota. However, when computer geek Katherine Whitson disappears, her husband contacts a classmate whose husband is a local Deputy Sheriff. That deputy knows Beck and enlists his aid in an attempt to learn what happened to Katherine.
The first impression is that she simply got tired of her husband and left, the man is obsessive-compulsive about everything and incredibly annoying. However, being a trained investigator, Beck sees things that are incongruous and has an immediate suspicion of fowl play. Enlisting the aid of his aptly named Native American friend Bull and his uber-computer geek wife, Beck stays on the trail that grows convoluted with a few distracters.
Unlike other thrillers based on an extremely implausible foundation scenario, this one uses a very real, even likely situation. The wisecracking dialog between Beck and his wife and the inclusion of the mysterious but very capable sidekick Bull reminded me of the "Spenser" series by Robert Parker. Which is high praise as there are none better in that genre. There is no real gunplay or significant fisticuffs in this book, the action is more cerebral, which I found refreshing for a mystery based on what is essentially a private detective.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good for a debut novel 6 May 2010
By Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Like other reviewers, I found this novel superior to most first-time efforts (and actually to some novels published by major publishers). The author has the rare gift for moving the plot along. I liked some of the smaller touches, such as the wife's sleuthing on the Internet and the heavy duty security at their house.

There's some awkwardness in the writing; for example, the protagonist keeps reminding the reader how much he loves his wife. The characters could be more fully developed and we don't get a strong sense of place. The detective, who has no official standing, has surprisinglyly litle trouble getting people to talk to him.

But the book passes the big test of mysteries: it held my interest. The writing is tight. Plotting is clearly the author's strong suit.

I hope Becker continues to write books with these characters. I expect to see more attention as the series grows.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable enough 3 Jun 2012
By Y. Castillo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I liked the main character. I didn't like the language. If you read this and object to strong language, please skip the entire chapter with his wife at home dealing with an intruder. It has nothing to do this this plot and 99% of the really bad language was there. If that had been in the first chapter or two, I wouldn't have bothered with the book, but I was far enough into the story, that I glossed over that chapter ...

A pretty good story, at least good enough that I finished it. I probably wouldn't pay for another book by this author, but might try another one for free.

Language - R
Sex - PG
Violence - PG
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Start to the James Becker Thrillers 14 July 2011
By Glenn Gordon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read a lot of thrillers, and what I'm hoping for when I pick up a new book are three critical components. John L. Betcher's debut novel The Missing Element delivers each remarkably well.

1. A plot that intrigues me. I was hooked on page one. The Missing Element kicks off with a kidnapping and it takes a frustratingly long while (in a good way) to learn the reason. By then the enjoyable subplots, false leads, and pace-chewing miscues had me as I'm-gonna-figure-this-out-or-die-trying sucked in as was protagonist James "Beck" Becker. And then the author wraps the story around convincingly-researched high tech espionage (another one of my push buttons) and I couldn't put it down. Now, this isn't Ludlum or Connelly, but for a lighter summer read, it works.

2. Characters who move me. Especially a protagonist who I'd either like to be (vicariousness has its joys) or that I'd like to meet with regularly at the corner pub, a worthy cast of sidekicks, and a bad guy that raises my hackles and makes me wish evil things upon. Hero, supporting cast, villain. Check, check, check.

The Missing Element actually has a dual hero in the husband-wife team of Becker and his affectionate and brainy wife Beth, and though the idea of a spousal partner crime-fighting team isn't anything new, Betcher writes it charmingly well, if not a little gooey at times. Clearly modeled after Spenser and Susan Silverman of the Robert B. Parker novels (perhaps my favorite long-running series), it'll take Betcher a few more Beck thrillers to capture the clever and effortless repartee Parker mastered. Also, though I trusted hero Beck's smooth confidence in the book's occasional danger-is-nigh moments, I'll want more of his government covert intelligence background in later books.

I loved Beck's reluctantly blasé, but fiercely loyal muscleman Bull and was pleasantly satisfied with his just-frequent-enough appearances on stage. And though the addtional local precinct cops and federal agent connections are typical for suspense thrillers these days, Betcher adds some needed life to his second tier cast and I'll hope they show up in the sequels.

One quality I appreciate in a writer of this genre is the ability to convince me I've figured out the enemy's identity, only to discover I was wrong. To accomplish this ALL of the potential villains need to flip my "vengence is due on this creep" switch. Again, Betcher rises to the task. And it's especially gratifying when the true foe ends up being the person you despised most all along.

3. A writing style that satisfies me. I'm a former English teacher, so I notice things like grammar, usage, mechanics, word choice, paragraph structure, use of plot devices, and all those other things you learned in high school. And the more I read top quality writing, the more I notice when a book falls short. The Missing Element is author Betcher's first book and kudos are due. Nicely done, John L. Betcher.

This thriller's sequel, The Covert Element, is queued up on my Kindle. I'm looking forward to it.
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