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The 19th Element (James Becker, #1)

The 19th Element

(James Becker #1)

Written by: John L. Betcher
Pages: 330
Terrorists plan to attack Minnesota’s Prairie River Nuclear Power Plant, but they’re not your typical band of Islamic extremists. True, there’s an al Qaeda connection. But the heart of the ‘terror cell’ is homegrown, right here in the United States.
James “Beck” Becker is a former elite U.S. government intelligence operative who has retired to his childhood hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota – just six miles down the Mississippi from the Prairie River Power Station. He recognizes connections between seemingly unrelated incidents – a murdered agronomy professor, a missing lab assistant, an international cell call, a stolen fertilizer truck, an explosion in the street in front of City Hall – but can’t piece it together in enough detail to convince government authorities that a larger threat exists. Only his American Indian friend, “Bull,” will help Beck defuse the threat.
So it’s Beck and Bull versus the best terror cell west of the Mississippi.

May the better men win

I love a good thriller. Toss in a terrorist plot or a conspiracy theory and you scored yourself a reader! The fact that this centered around a nuclear power plant was only bonus as far as this child of a nuclear power plant worker thinks.
What can I say? I like it. Maybe it’s growing up so close to DC with the whole “first strike zone” mentality or the knowledge I have about nuclear power plants, I just love to see what crazy schemes people come up with in these sorts of stories.
This was a quick book, not too deep but just deep enough. Kind of like a Bond film. You really don’t need a lot of depth so what you get is just the right amount.
The author employs a writer style that bounces you from the former spy turned bored small town lawyer’s point of view to the terrorist cell’s antics.  At first this confused me, but I quickly got past that.
The bad guys owned just enough crazy and believable vendetta against America to attempt a crazy stunt like the plot of this book depicts. The good guy owned just enough supposed CIA super spy knowledge and training to realize Something Bad Was Going To Happen while completely annoying everyone around him and leaving him to save the day on his own.
Also typical is that our fearless hero didn’t even worry that he would fail and his wife would possibly be irradiated  Nowhere was the thought of, “I’m too old for this stuff.” He just went in and “super-spy”-ed it all up. Thank goodness for the true American hero.
I think the part I loved the most was the off track vignette that took him off the case briefly to go check on his daughter away at college and afraid of a stalker.  She’s air-headed enough that she doesn’t seek help on campus but daddy’s girl enough she calls in dear ol’ pops to solve her problem. Which he does, rather creatively. Love it!
I picked this book up for free from Amazon for the Kindle this summer and I rate it excellent for a summer thriller you read by the pool as you work on your tan. Just maybe a bad book if that is a containment pool of your local nuclear power plant.
–Lady O