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The Missing Element (James Becker Suspense/Thriller Series Book 2) by [Betcher, John L.]
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The Missing Element (James Becker Suspense/Thriller Series Book 2) Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Length: 273 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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)
  • Publication Date: March 26, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003E3608G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,429 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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The writing style is kind of light, with a lot of humor, and it works fairly well. There is some suspense but it's not super dramatic or anything. What I liked most was it is about the conflicts that come up making application specific chips (ASICs) and the test and verification of a mass consumer product. I have worked in both areas and find most people have no concept of the pressure on a verification manager to overlook flaws. In this case I didn't think the motivation of the villain was very believable, and often managers are not the real technical experts, but that is my only criticism. Definitely worth the money if you like detective stories, a mildly humorous writing style, or have an interest in the inside of the tech industry.
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Entertaining mystery with a well crafted plot and well developed characters. It is common theme with a husband/wife team as dual investigators. An interesting twist is provided by the fact they are both retired government agents, with the wife providing high level computer skills and the husband a more active detective/agent. Both have skills, with reasonable abilities for their supposed ages, both are obviously very intelligent and there is added development with the police officer friend and the Native American buddy.

The high tech plot was way out of my area of expertise so I cannot comment on the technical issues in the plot, but it read smoothly and reasonably, if a bit more depth than I needed, for a non-tech person.

I had a little difficulty at times with the somewhat intrusive romantic dialogue between the couple, a little too much of a good thing with occasionally awkward phrasing. As often happens, I read the second (third?) book in this series first and this was less noticeable as the series continued.

Overall, a very good start for a new author and a promising new series that will remain on my to-read list.
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