Nov 192013
 

critical element
The Critical Element
(A James Becker Suspense/Thriller)

5th in Series
Mystery/Suspense
Self Published
Paperback: 326 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1491243572
E-Book File Size: 485 KB
ASIN: B00EARNQ2I

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FROM AN AMAZON TOP 100 AND NOOK TOP 100 AUTHOR.

James “Beck” Becker has retired from a twenty-year career serving his country as a military intelligence operative and now practices law in his childhood hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota.  His wife, Beth, a retired CIA code-cracker, takes care of things at home. They have worked out a comfortable routine for their retirement. That is until the call comes call for a little of their expert assistance.

This time their help is needed just down the road with a unusual finding but it quickly turns into so much more. Rodney Holton,  a local farmer, comes to Beck for some advice regarding a “meteor strike” on his land. Beck knows Holton will do anything to make a buck so he is quite skeptical about this “meteor”.  But then the FBI comes to town and before they even get to see it the “meteor” disappears. This is just the tip of the iceberg as Holden’s cows start to get sick, and this so called “meteor” may have something to do with North Korean “weather satellite” that everyone thought was just a piece of junk floating in space.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
This is one of my favorite series. John Betcher just keeps getting better and better. I love these characters. This mild mannered retired couple, Beck and his wife Beth, kicking back on the porch enjoying the beautiful Minnesota views one minute, tracking down terrorists the next. This time the target is practically in their own backyard. Beth works her magic electronically with her computer and Beck tracks down the leads. A fabulous team. 

Betcher has a talent of writing stories the draw you in and don’t let go. He takes his characters and drops them into these unbelievable situations and makes you believe them. The world today is a dangerous place but those of us in the Midwest always feel pretty safe.  All of  Betcher’s books have that ripped from the headlines feel.  This one will have you looking at one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world in a whole new light and may have you rethinking your plans to about many places we travel without a second thought.

Suspense, thrills and chills. This book delivers all. It also includes a touch of humor that keeps all the drama from from getting overly intense. We also see a compassionate side of Beck surface more in this installment.  The plot and subplots are tight and perfectly paced. I highly recommend you grab this book today and escape into it as quickly as possible. My Beck fix has been filled for the moment. I can’t wait for the next adventure!

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas

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To find out more about this author and his books visit his webpage here.

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. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. 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.”

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May 312012
 

The Exiled Element
A James Becker Thriller

4th in Series
Published by John L. Betcher
Available Now

The Exiled Element


Beth Becker takes the lead in this edition as she is called back into active service with the CIA. She is sent to Cairo, Egypt where there has been some trouble and her unique skills and contacts are needed. It doesn’t take Beth long to remember why she retired. All the office “politics”, backstabbing, lies and butt covering makes her want to turn around and go straight home. Ever the professional she sets about her tasks and knows the sooner they are completed she can return to Minnesota and her loving husband.

“Beck” is not sitting at home pining for his wife. He is helping Deputy Sheriff Gunderson (Gunner) prepare security for an important dignitary that is coming to Red Wing. Things do not go as planned due to the out of town security but Beck, Gunner and Bull will try to clean up their mess and not get themselves killed in the process.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Betcher has done it again. A fantastic story with the ripped from the headlines feeling. Hang on to your seats, you will not be able to put this one down.

I love the characters, the dialogues they have will each other, and the little ways they always surprise us. The plot is tight, complex, and realistic. The settings described to make you feel you are right there. You know the author has done the research to make this story come alive. From Red Wing to Cairo and back again, it is a thrilling ride.

I have enjoyed this entire series and each one is better than the last. Betcher has a compelling writing style that takes this ordinary couple into extraordinary situations. I can see myself sitting down having coffee with Beck and Beth never believing how much danger they put themselves in. Retired, no way, I know these characters will be off on another adventure soon. I am anxiously awaiting.


Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. 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.”

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Review: THE COVERT ELEMENT by John L. Betcher

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Oct 282011
 

This post originally appeared on Dollycas’s Thoughts June 18, 2011.

The Covert Element: A James Becker Thriller

This is the third installment featuring James Becker (Beck), a former Military Intelligence Agent and his ex-CIA code cracking, computer expert wife, Beth. They are both retired from their stressful jobs, Beck does some work as an attorney now, but they just can’t seem to stay out of trouble.
In this edition the Mexican Drug Wars come way too close to home, very near to their quiet Minnesota community, and they aren’t just selling the drugs, they are manufacturing meth at a huge grain company.  The organic grain elevator and small dairy is a great cover.  The CEO doesn’t even know what is happening right under his nose.
To add even more thrill to this thriller we find out about some of Beck’s friend Bull’s past.  A friend from his time in the military shows up and he is on a mission and wants Bull’s help to carry out his plan. He has set up his planned assault for many years and it is all coming to a head now in Minnesota.
Beth and Beck try to help their friend Bull accomplish his friend’s mission in the most legal way possible because if they don’t they could all end up in jail or dead.
I was privileged to be one of the first to read the first book in this series, The Missing Element and then The 19th Element which tied with Harlan Coben’s CAUGHT for my selection of Best Suspense/Thriller for 2010. I was worried that after the last one John had set the bar too high for himself, but The Covert Element surpassed both of the previous novels.
I think that John is not only a brilliant writer but he takes huge current issues in the world and brings them alarmingly close to home.  He had made Red Wing, Minnesota the hotbed of some critical world issues in a truly believable way.  I just hope the wrong people don’t read his books and get ideas. 
The dialogue between Beck and Beth is so real.  I know some critics have panned their romance and relationship taking too big of part in these stories, but to me it makes the stressful situations even more real.  There is less of that in this installment but you still see and feel the calming effect Beth has on Beck.  Without that he could develop quickly in a character out of control.  She is a vital character and their strong relationship is a huge part of why these stories work.
You can see the author takes great pains in his research in every one of the books but this one took intense investigation to get the facts right to make this story credible.  
It continues his “ripped from headlines” style.  This is yet another book by John L. Betcher I recommend you click the link below and order today.  You will be enthralled from the first page until the very last and you won’t be able to wait and tell your friends they have to read it too!!!
Well done John!!!  Now get to work on the next one!!! By hot little hands are waiting!!!

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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.”



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Review: The Missing Element by John L. Betcher with Q&A

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Oct 282011
 

This post originally appeared on Dollycas’s Thoughts May 18, 2010.

A JAMES BECKER MYSTERY

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.

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!!!

About The Author

John L Betcher 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. He is also an active member and writing peer coach at the Agent Query Connect writer’s forum.

 

After finishing this book Sunday night I emailed John Monday morning to tell him how much I loved the book and asked him to join me here to answer a few questions and find out if there would be more books in Beck & Beth’s future.

 

Q & A with Author John L. Betcher 
Was writing a book something you always wanted to do?
Writing fiction is a vocation I came upon gradually. I had never really pictured myself as an author before I decided — about a year ago — to become one. Having an English major in college and doing a lot of legal writing certainly helped writing skills along. But I hadn’t really aspired to be a writer. In fact, until last summer, I had been very involved in my two daughters’ school, artistic and sporting activities. Parenting occupied most of my time outside of lawyering. Then my youngest graduated from high school, and my schedule changed dramatically. Suddenly, I had time to do something else.
Actually, coaching youth volleyball for the past ten years was the impetus that got me writing for publication. I published three articles in “COACHING VOLLEYBALL, the Journal of the American Volleyball Coaches Association” between 2006 and 2009. The last article turned out to be the cover story for the April/May 2009 issue. In May, 2009 I wrote a small book on volleyball coaching philosophies entitled The Little Black Book of Volleyball Coaching. By this time I was ready to move on to more challenging writing projects.
I guess you could say that my passion for coaching volleyball, and a recent appearance of some free time in my family schedule, were the major factors that allowed me to explore writing fiction. And like Beck, when I take on a challenge, I do so wholeheartedly. I now consider myself a full time lawyer and a full time author.

 

Are you really computer savvy or did you have to do a lot of research for this book? The book implies that humans are ‘The Missing Element” in computer technology. How did you come up with this storyline?
In 1980, I was fortunate enough to have access to one of IBM’s very first personal computers — the IBM XT — through my part-time job during law school. I’ve kept up with computers ever since. So on one hand, computers and technology have been parts of my life for a long time.
The really deep and involved aspects of computer chip design and manufacturing featured in the book came to me through an engineer friend of mine whose family has its own technology business. I invited him to my home one evening to share a beverage. I kept asking technology questions. And he kept giving me more and more intriguing answers. I backed up that personal interview with some web research to make sure I had all the terminology straight. It was my engineer friend who first expressed to me his concern over humans becoming increasingly absent in the technology equation. That idea blossomed into a good part of the book’s plot.
Do I really believe that “technology is becoming an uncomfortably black box,” as Beck would say? Yes. I’m not alarmist about it. But there are definitely Orwellian overtones to the expansive role technology plays in today’s world — mostly with little or no human intervention.
Are you Beck? I ask because he’s also a lawyer in the Red Wing area.
In writing The Missing Element, I tried to adhere to the common wisdom that an author should write about a subject with which he is familiar. I know a lot about lawyering, computers, the small town of Red Wing, Minnesota, and the Twin Cities metro area. So it is definitely true that there are parallels between my life and Beck’s. And Beck and I share some personal philosophies.
But one must remember that this book is fictional. And so are its characters. No one should believe for a minute that I am Beck, or vice versa. It would be exciting if I were capable of some of Beck’s heroics. But then I probably would be out saving people instead of writing books, wouldn’t I?
Beck and Beth make a great team. Will we see them working together in future books?
I like the characters of Beth and Beck very much. They are a little too perfect. And maybe they’re a bit self-absorbed. But their interaction with each other makes me feel good inside. Too few books leave you liking the main characters and happy about the ending. The Beck books will always be exceptions to that rule. And Beck and Beth will always be there.
I also like the characters of Bull and Gunner. Red Wing has substantial populations of both Scandinavians and Dakota Indians. So readers should expect to see more of Gunner and Bull in future books as well.

SCOOP 

The next book in this series is in the works!!!!  
The title:  THE 19th ELEMENT
Expected Release Date: Later this year, maybe as early as late summer
It features the familiar core cast you got to know in THE MISSING ELEMENT — Beck, Beth, Bull and Gunner and is said to be a THRILLER!!!!!
Thank you to John for stopping by today and answering my questions.  I can’t wait to read The 19th Element and many more stories featuring Beck, Beth and the gang.
To learn more about the author visit http://www.johnbetcher.com/

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.”

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Review: The 19th Element by John L. Betcher

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Oct 282011
 

This post originally appeared on Dollycas’s Thoughts July 13, 2010.

 A JAMES BECKER THRILLER

Al Qaeda plans to attack Minnesota’s Prairie River Nuclear Power Plant to remind everyone they are still very active and to get back in the international headlines.  They have recruited some homegrown anarchists to add to their terrorist forces, one of which is a Three Mile Island survivor with a huge grudge against the power plant, and two more with questionable education and background.

James “Beck” Becker is a former elite U.S. government intelligence operative who has retired to his childhood hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota just a few miles from the Prairie River Nuclear Power Plant.  After a university professor’s body is found along the shore of the Mississippi River, clearly murdered, “Beck” gets in on the investigation and all his instincts tell him, this dead body is just the start of something much bigger.  He is very concerned when he learns the professor’s assistant is missing along with what could be a very dangerous piece of lab equipment.  Later clues like a missing fertilizer truck and an international phone call only confirm to “Beck” that terrorists are involved and that something major is going to happen, but he can’t convince any government officials that a huge threat exists.  So with the help of his American Indian friend “Bull”, he tries to foil the plan on his own.

I am so glad John Betcher sent me this extraordinary thriller.  It is scary good!!  I say this because this fiction could easily become reality.  This could definitely be a “ripped from the headlines” story.  When I think of terrorist targets in the United States, I think of major cities, Washington D.C., New York, maybe Los Angeles, but this story takes place in my “backyard”, the Upper Midwest.  Also we know from history there are terrorists and their supporters here in the states, and this story brings them out front and center.  Yes, this story is fiction but it has all the details that make you realize this could really happen.  While this book entertains it also raises the readers awareness that there are people that want to hurt Americans.

I had the pleasure of reading, reviewing and interviewing the author after her sent me his first book, The Missing Element, and while I truly loved that book, I enjoyed this book even more.  This book is now tied with Harlan Coben’s CAUGHT as the best book I have read this year.  If you like a riveting, page turner this is definitely a book that should be in you hot little hands today.  Don’t wait, click the link below and order this book today!  You will not be able to put it down until you finish the last page and you will be thinking about the reality of it for a long time after you put this book on your keeper shelf.

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.”

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