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The 19th Element: A James Becker Nuclear Thriller Paperback – June 23, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 186 customer reviews

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About the Author

The author is a University of Minnesota Law School graduate and has practiced law for more than twenty-five years in the Mississippi River community of Red Wing, Minnesota. He possesses substantial first-hand knowledge of the Prairie River Nuclear Plant's real world counterpart, as well as Red Wing's airport and the flight rules around the nuke plant. In addition to THE 19TH ELEMENT, he has published a second book in the "Beck" series entitled, THE MISSING ELEMENT, A James Becker Mystery. The second book is available everywhere. The author has also been a long-time supporter and coach of youth volleyball in and around Red Wing. He has authored three feature articles for COACHING VOLLEYBALL, the Journal of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. His most recent article was the cover story for the April/May, 2009 Issue. His book on volleyball coaching philosophies entitled THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF VOLLEYBALL COACHING is available at www.johnbetcher.com and at amazon.com.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; First Edition edition (June 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451521014
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451521016
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,292,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Being a writer myself, I found this book a good read. It had all of the points of a great thriller. Terrorists. Facts that are so real you can touch them. Details about how we have become so complacent in our day-to day lives that we forget how clever people who might want to harm us could be. The characters were believable and well designed.

In his novel, John shows us his main character nicknamed James (aka Beck), and his wife Beth living in the small town of Red Wing, Minnesota. James and Beth were former agents for the US government, now retired and trying to live out a peaceful life with their daughters. That is, until a terrorist group decides to blow up a nearby nuclear plant, sending poisonous gasses across half of the continent. Beck puts a series of seemingly random incidents around town together and the big picture starts to emerge. He enlists the help of several friends in the area.

The scary part is that John has done his homework. The threat of such an event happening is laid out in such stark detail that you could see how easily it could be done if we let our guard down. That's probably the most engaging part of the whole story. It really could happen.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. The ending was action-packed and filled with the kinds of details that kept me wanting more. But to get to this fabulous ending, I found the first half of the book to be a series of very dry, heavy loads of technical overview. The writing in the first half seemed to be written in a different point of Mr. Betcher's writing journey in comparison to the last half of the book. In the beginning, the characters were formed very well, but the fact presentation was weak, making it more dry than enjoyable.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This was a great plot: Al Quaida is planning on flying an extra explosive plane into a nuclear power plant. I enjoyed the characters interactions and dialogue. My only complaint is that the book moved a little slowly and dryly. There was an abundance of technical jargon dealing with nuclear chemistry and physics. I was a science major in college and my eyes still tended to glaze over during these parts. The last 25% of the novel moved along just fine, however. Therefore this is most likely a problem unique to this novel because of the plot and I will definitely read and recommend other works by John L Betcher.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
James L. Becker is an attorney, at least that's what those of his small hometown believe. John and his wife Beth, worked as agents for the USA before settling down in Red Wing, MN. Terrorism was their work. They decide to leave the agency and live more quietly in Red Wing while their daughter attends college out of state. James realizes the problems that came with being an agent followed them into private life. He senses there will be a terrorist attempt at one of the local nuclear power plants. It begins with a dead body and then the pieces of the puzzle start falling in line.

This book is thought provoking, intelligent and amazing. I love the idea of showing that Americans are complacent when it comes to terrorism even if they don't believe they are. The characters are a wonderfully written group of people. You can imagine these people living in your own neighborhood. I like that it informed. The two problems I found with this book is for many it will prove to be extremely detailed and technical. This isn't an easy read for the weekend, at least not for most people. I know many will enjoy this book, still there are some who will start it but not finish it. I did finish but WOW was it challenging.

~Copy of book provided by author in exchange for a fair review
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I firmly believe that amazingly perfect protagonists yield amazingly boring stories. Their perfection offers no opportunity for drama: how can the perfect rise to a seemingly overwhelming challenge before them? Unfortunately, author Betcher and protagonist Becker don't agree with me. They evidently feel that Becker can never be too perfect. Becker is a former agent turned lawyer, inventor of a sniper bullet, and married to an attractive stay-home wife who just happens to be a former top-notch CIA cryptologist. Gee, is it getting just a little too perfect in here for anyone else? I will acknowledge that it must be tough for Becker to contend with being right all the time and with the constant doubt and disbelief he encounters when telling mere mortals what he knows and they do not. While the premise was believable, the delivery was just a too perfect and unbelievable for me.
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Format: Paperback
A really good read but when I first picked it up I very quickly began to wish I hadn't; the Al-Qaeda slant didn't initially appeal. However, I persevered and was pleased I did so as before long I couldn't put it down. The psychology behind the reasons for radicalisation of non-Muslims was very insightful. Also, John's in depth and very detailed descriptions of how the science worked was just brilliant. The ending, perhaps could have run faster for me, perhaps by shortening the sentences, thus giving the perception of an increased pace, but a great story from a new author to me. I'll read another of his books soon.
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