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The Missing Element: A James Becker Mystery Paperback – March 8, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; First Edition edition (March 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451512716
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451512717
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,829,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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 has also been a long-time supporter and coach of youth volleyball there. 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. The first book in the Beck series, The 19th Element, is for sale in Paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.

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

This is the second book I've read by Betcher, and I enjoyed this one also.
Mike O.
The unpredictable and frighteningly plausible story is very current in its content and keeps the reader turning the pages.
Jerald
The story itself is believable, the characters hold your interest, and most of all, it's a fun story.
Alex S

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alex S TOP 50 REVIEWER on April 22, 2010
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.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 6, 2010
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.
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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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Y. Castillo on 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
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Gordon on 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.
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