Start reading The Missing Element on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

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

John L. Betcher
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $4.99

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $4.99  
Paperback --  
Child 44
Child 44 is the first book in the Child 44 Trilogy Series: Look for the movie version in cinemas April 17. See more books by Tom Rob Smith

Book Description


FINALIST - Readers Favorite Book Awards for Fiction


“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.


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.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Amazon 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 four are THE 19TH ELEMENT, THE MISSING ELEMENT, THE COVERT ELEMENT, and THE EXILED ELEMENT. He has also authored the award-winning spiritual phenomenon, A HIGHER COURT.

Product Details

  • File Size: 649 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Publisher: John L. Betcher; 2 edition (March 26, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003E3608G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,107 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Knight in Shining Armor ... April 22, 2010
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.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good for a debut novel May 6, 2010
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.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable enough June 3, 2012
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
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Start to the James Becker Thrillers July 14, 2011
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.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
These Elements books were well written, and I found them entertaining.
Published 12 days ago by Carol
4.0 out of 5 stars good lawyer as detective yarn
I really enjoyed this fast paced thriller of computer espionage and Chinese spying. Well written characters and's not a classic but very entertaing nonetheless.
Published 1 month ago by Margot Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars Want to read more right away
This is the second in the James Becker series that I have read - and this one only makes me want to read more as soon as I can. Read more
Published 2 months ago by William J Burke III
5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed this book
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so much so that when I finished it I ordered the next one in the series. It is a completely believable thriller.
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Read this
A Fun story, with interesting characters. Shall read more.
Published 6 months ago by billt
1.0 out of 5 stars 6 th Grade material
Simplistic, not believable, trendy, predictable, even corny
Not worth time, would not recommend.
Somewhat correct w/setting, locale.
Will not read more by author.
Published 9 months ago by James H Cook
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice read
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It's well written with great character development. The story moves along well and kept me involved until the end. Read more
Published 9 months ago by ScottC
5.0 out of 5 stars Eccellent adventure
This is the second book by this author. I love the main character and all the supporting ones. Good read, flows and builds suspense. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Scotty
5.0 out of 5 stars Good mystery series
Being from Minnesota it's fun to read about places you know and have been to. The books have good story lines.
Published 10 months ago by GOls
4.0 out of 5 stars Comments on "The Missing Element" Margo
II really like the characters; they are "fun" people to get acquainted with! However, the story line didnnt please me as well as the first one I read which was "The... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Margaret Herzog
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Author

USA Today 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.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category