The Missing Element

( 6 )

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Charles Ashbacher
FIVE STARS. A CEREBRAL DETECTIVE STORY BASED ON A PLAUSIBLE, EVEN LIKELY, PREMISE

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.
Lori Caswell
A MUST READ! FIVE STARS. This is such a good book. It is written at the perfect pace that keeps you turning page after page after page. . . . 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?
Marty Dodge
FIVE STARS. After a myriad of long-winded and tedious novels I have been reading of late, this was a good respite. The author seems to be of the minimalist school of novel writing and this reader rather appreciates it. At a little under 300 pages, minimally filled, this book reads rather quickly. That is not say that its contents are lightweight at all. If anything the brevity of the prose lends itself to moving the plot along in a timely manner.
Sherry Legan
FIVE STARS. I just finished a great book! The Missing Element by John L. Betcher. It was refreshing to work directly with Mr. Betcher through Bostwick Communications.

This was one of those books that sucked me in and kept me interested from page one. . . .

I highly recommend The Missing Element. It was a great read. It was suspenseful, intriguing and fun. In my opinion this would be a good book for any age group from older teen to adult.
Steve Moore
FIVE STARS. This book was a lot of fun. It is the kind of book I love to read and it is the kind of book I try to write. John Betcher has written a real gem. Like a good port, you can enjoy it any time. It is an entertaining addition to the thriller/suspense class of books with just a dash of sci-fi—the style lies somewhere between Carl Hiaasen and Michael Connelly, although the author claims to emulate Robert B. Parker. A difficult task, but he comes close in entertainment value.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451512717
  • Publisher: CreateSpace
  • Publication date: 3/8/2010
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

The author 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. He has also been a long-time supporter and coach of youth volleyball there.

Mr. Betcher has published three feature articles in 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, Insights From the Trenches, has been selling nationwide and is currently available everywhere.

His first novel in the "Beck" series, THE 19TH ELEMENT, A James Becker Thriller, was featured on the Reading Minnesota Blog, Reader’s Choice Review and in the Red Wing Republican Eagle newspaper. It has been gaining widespread critical acclaim. The author was interviewed on the KWNG Radio Morning Show on June 2, 2010.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A MUST READ!!!

    5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ, May 18, 2010
    By Lori Caswell "dollycas" (FALL RIVER, WI) - See all my reviews
    (REAL NAME)
    This review is from: The Missing Element: A James Becker Mystery (Paperback)
    James (Beck) Becker and his wife Elizabeth (Beth) have retired from their high pressure lives as government operatives, Beck in military intelligence, Beth as a CIA code-cracker and moved back to Beck's childhood home of Red Wing, Minnesota to enjoy some rest and relaxation.

    Rest and relaxation doesn't last long as Beth gets a call from an old acquaintance begging her to help find his wife, who he believes has been kidnapped. Katherine Whitson, a computer genius, has left her husband her car keys, credit cards, most of her belongings and a note saying she's leaving him, but he doesn't believe it for a minute.

    Beth talks Beck into taking the case and it takes him on a route through Katherine's personal and professional lives and into the inside the mind-bending world of computers and microprocessors that he doesn't even understand. He realizes he needs Beth's help, and the help of some of their friends if he is ever going to find Katherine alive and close this case.

    5 STARS I LOVE IT!!!

    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?

    There is also the wonderful love story of Beck and Beth and the perfect amount of humor to keep the story from getting to technical or heavy. If you are a fan of Tom Clancy, John Grisham or Robert Parker, you will truly enjoy this book, but even if you a just a cozy mystery reader this is still a book for you. I truly recommend you add this book to your Summer Reading Lists today!!!


    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Missing Element

    The Missing Element is the story of James "Beck" Becker and his wife Elizabeth, who have returned to Beck's childhood home in Red Wing, Minnesota to enjoy retirement from their covert government jobs. Of course, life is anything but quiet with Beck around.
    When Katherine Whitson, a Minneapolis computer genius, disappears under mysterious circumstances, her husband George calls the local police. After receiving no help from police, George then solicits a Red Wing acquaintance to convince Beck to help find Katherine.
    Beginning at Katherine's luxury apartment in the Minneapolis Warehouse District, Author John L. Betcher puts his protagonist through a labyrinth of red herrings. Beck's investigation starts with George as the unfaithful husband, and then moves to his lover, to Katherine's work colleagues, and on through the ranks of an influential computer company, and into the overwhelming world of computer microprocessors before he can begin to find answers.
    To solve the mystery of why Katherine was kidnapped-and to save her-Beck must draw on his resources with the FBI and their computer experts, as well as the expertise of his wife Elizabeth, the former CIA agent.
    Betcher leads us into the world of advanced computer technology and international espionage with this captivating suspense thriller. As we follow Beck on his quest to locate Katherine, we are introduced to several colorful characters. There is the Ottawa County Sheriff's Deputy, Doug Gunderson, and his wife, Connie, who enlist Beck's help. The brawn in this story is provided by the enigmatic Terry "Bull" Red Feather. Bull is drawn into the story when Beck requests his assistance in dealing with the nefarious characters who try to stand in his way.
    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 recommended for those who love to curl up with an entertaining mystery/suspense novel. It offers a little something for everyone: lively characters, espionage and cyber-technology, and of course the mystery of who took Katherine Whitson and why. Fans of Parker, Grisham, and Clancy will enjoy this first installment in the James Becker series.
    Reviewed by Deb L. Baker for Reader's Choice Book Reviews

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Bob MacKenzie for Readers Favorite While this tale

    Reviewed by Bob MacKenzie for Readers Favorite

    While this tale hinges partly on 21st Century technology, the style and substance is very old fashioned, reading not so much like John Gresham or Tom Clancy as Raymond Chandler or Mickey Spillane with just a dash of Nick and Nora Charles thrown in. A description of the story could sound rather boring. In the quiet town of Red Wing, Minnesota, the cop's wife's best friend has disappeared, leaving behind a note for her husband that their marriage is over. The cop, having little time for this, asks a lawyer friend of his to look into it. That could be the whole story. However, the missing woman is one of the highest qualified computer programmers in the world. In a former life, the lawyer had been top international spy for U.S. military intelligence. The lawyer's wife is a former CIA operative and code-cracker still doing contract decoding for the agency. Soon, people start getting violently threatened or killed. Life in Red Wing has become an adventure!

    The characters in this story are thinly drawn, as is often the case in detective fiction, yet they walk just this side of the line between stereotype and stark realism, becoming intriguing individuals almost in spite of themselves. Central to the story, James "call me Beck" Becker and his wife Beth especially stand out and become real to the reader, but others become real the more they are on stage. Like the plot and the pacing, the development of characters in this novel is quite masterful. "The Missing Element" has the pace of "The Big Sleep" or perhaps of any Elmore Leonard novel you could name and has its share of quirky characters and cliffhanger moments to keep your eyes locked on its pages until the very end.

    I am very impressed with this novel and with the author's skills as a storyteller. The story is gripping and at times intense. I would recommend "The Missing Element" to anyone as a great, fast-paced read.

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  • Posted July 27, 2011

    Sophomore Jinx - Not Very Good

    Seems to have lost his way with this book!
    Not very exciting, the characters are boring, the dialog between Beck and Beth are unrealistic and uppity. The characters caring about each other are more important than the plot, Beth is assaulted by someone from Becks past with no explanation, just bad, bad, bad.
    Bull is not a character, he is a one line bore.
    Betcher made every poor writers mistake, using the exact same words from a previous book to explain a character.
    i read the 19th Element and liked it so much that I immediately downloaded this one. I am really disappointed and now have moved on from the wine and cheese of Beth and Beck to another Author.
    The 19th Element told a story with good characters, i was into it, this book, i couldn't wait for it to end for a different reason.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Disturbingly Realistic Tale Of High-Tech Espionage

    After years of service as a clandestine government operative, James "Beck" Becker retires to his childhood home of Red Wing, Minnesota, for some much needed peace and quiet; however, when Minneapolis computer genius Katherine Whitson mysteriously disappears, her husband solicits Beck's help in order to find her. As Beck's search for Katherine intensifies, he soon finds himself in a twisted web of lies, deceit, and misdirection - forcing him to rely on every bit of his years of professional experience if he hopes to bring her back alive...

    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.


    Joy Mangum
    Apex Reviews

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  • Posted April 12, 2010

    Mystery Plus Cyber-Espionage

    An entertaining debut novel from Minnesota author, John L. Betcher.

    Likeable characters, intelligent dialogue, fast-paced action and authentic cyber-technology drive this kidnap mystery to a mind-bending conclusion.

    Written in the style of Robert B. Parker's 'Spenser' novels, this book's balance of humor, suspense and Twin Cities' settings make it a uniquely compelling read.

    I can't wait for Book 2 in the James Becker series.

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