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The 19th Element (James Becker Suspense/Thriller Series) by [Betcher, John L.]
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The 19th Element (James Becker Suspense/Thriller Series) Kindle Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Description

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 award-winning "Beck" suspense/thriller series and the international spiritual phenomenon, A Higher Court.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 813 KB
  • Print Length: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Self-Published through CreateSpace; Second edition (20 Jan. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003TXS2VY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #152,271 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Told from the point-of-view of a former elite U.S. military intelligence operative, and the perspective of an Al Qaeda-backed terrorist cell, The 19th Element by John L. Betcher is a first rate psychological thriller that will hook your interest early and keep you reading non-stop until the final page.

Although this is the second release in the series, The 19th Element takes place a few months prior to the author's debut, The Missing Element. James "Beck" Becker has settled into retirement and is attempting to live a normal life, putting his law degree to use with a legal practice in his hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota. Not much happens in the small town so when a scientist-professor of agriculture is found murdered and the only suspect, a lab assistant, is missing, Beck takes notice. Beck may be officially retired from government intelligence work, but he cannot ignore his training, experience, or gut reactions. When he discovers that the assistant is Arab he brings his theories to the local police.

Ottawa County's Chief Deputy Sheriff, Doug Gunderson, is somewhat aware of Beck's background and the pair has a friendship that goes back to school days. However, Gunderson is leery about starting a "terrorists in Red Wing panic" based on Beck's gut feelings and little hard evidence. When not one but two fertilizer trucks are hijacked, Beck begins to put the pieces together. He envisions an Oklahoma City-type bombing and the only target worth hitting would be the nearby Prairie River Nuclear Power Plant. Fearing a Chernobyl style meltdown, Beck continues his investigation despite the lack of support from any government agency or Gunderson.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A thriller set in America about a terrorist plot to blow up a nuclear power plant.

Whilst the author has chosen to use the villains of today, al-Qaeda, they could be replaced by any other terrorist group as the storyline follows the specific people rather than the politics behind their motivation.

In fact, the terrorists are a disparate group including someone with a personal axe to grind against the nuclear industry and the government, and a couple who are just plain anti (rather than pro).

The story telling switches between the first person perspective of our hero, James Becker, a one time soldier who now runs a legal practice and looks for excitement elsewhere and a third person account of the terrorists' activities. This is not easy to pull off, and it took me a while to get into the rhythm, but it is helped by a clearly marked chronology.

Once into the swing of it the book was easy to read and kept my attention. Enough background was given on all the main characters to give an insight into their behaviour and their choices. I did feel that the ending became rather rushed, as the focus turned more and more on Becker, and would have liked to have read a little more about the terrorists as the plot reached its conclusion.

Overall an enjoyable read and, despite this not being my favourite genre, I would read other books by this author.
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Format: Kindle Edition
An Al Qaeda terrorist cell plots to attack a nuclear power plant in the US heartland. Only one man, James Becker, can stop disaster happening.

What's the point of a thriller? Well, I guess the clue is in the word itself. Unfortunately there were many issues with The 19th Element from a contrived plot (an Al Qaeda attack on a nuclear power plant?!) that never got out of second gear, to weak characters, and odd dialogue.

First is Becker himself who failed to convince me of his credentials. He's ex-secret service, but then describes himself as wealthy because he invented a new bullet that can kill people at 1.5 miles (great!). He also has an unused degree - this and the money mean he's been able to change profession and still act undercover (although independently of the government) but seems able to call in favours at will, like bringing in two Apache helicopters to take out the bad guys at just the right moment.

The writing isn't bad, it's just overly descriptive and ponderous. It's `tell' instead of `show', observation instead of participation. For example, Becker gets into a fight at one point, it felt like I was watching the process from afar. When Jack Reacher fights, he fights, you feel every punch, every injury, adrenalin pumps. Unfortunately not with Becker. I wanted to put on my pyjamas and go to bed with a hot water bottle.

There were quite a few examples of this over use of tell. Remember the unused degree and new job. From the following, can you guess what Becker does?

'Today was Wednesday and I was at my office. Becker Law Office. James L. Becker, Attorney-at-Law.'

Um, I think he's an attorney? But I could be wrong.

On occasion, there were long, bulleted and descriptive lists.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book could have been really good, with a plot that may not be far from the truth. However, the characters needed more depth/background and our 'hero' had too many convenient contacts. Now, I'm no chemist and the author tried hard to explain the make up of certain explosives. However, if the 'baddies' were collecting so much stuff for their remote farmhouse, wouldn't our 'hero' just have to keep in touch with the various local suppliers? Not for me I'm afraid.
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