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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.
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.
In the 19th Element, we find James Becker, "Beck" to his friends, his close friend "Bull," and his wife Beth back to solving another mystery. Beck was formerly with special operations, and has now retired and brought his family to this small, safe town where he can finally live under his own name.
This particular story begins with a dead professor found in the small community of Red Wing where Beck and Beth now live. Beck, who "plays at" being a lawyer begins to check out the details and it seems like everything is shouting terrorism. But small towns and bureaucracies aren't willing to consider this as a possibility, so Beck begins to explore the situation on his own.
In this book, Betcher answers many questions concerning the characters in The Missing Element: A James Becker Mystery, and adds a new level of believability to his characters. And, while two of the antagonists could have seemed corny by their very stupidity, the response of those around them to the acts is equal to our own puzzlement, making them actually believable.
John Betcher offered me a complimentary early copy of this book for review since I enjoyed his first one, however I was unable to read it until last night. I thought I'd read a couple of chapters then drop off to sleep. I didn't - I was intrigued enough to read it to the end in a single setting, and I was up well past midnight.
I do tend to be a bit "tougher" on authors who offer me their books, so I must admit that early on I found myself locating a periodic table to find the 19th element, as well as checking out what it could do.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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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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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