1) The main character in the book is James “Beck” Becker – retired from clandestine
Military Intelligence Operations and returned to his childhood hometown.
2) His wife, Beth, is a retired CIA encryption/decryption specialist – aka, a code-cracker.
3) Beck is grateful to have the able assistance of his enigmatic American Indian
companion, Bull. No one knows Bull’s true background. But he sure knows a lot about
4) An al Qaeda-backed terror cell plans to attack the Prairie River Nuclear Generating Plant near Beck’s hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota. The terrorists will be employing an unusual explosive in the attack – elemental potassium.
5) The terror cell in the book has only a single Muslim member. The remainder of the cell consists of disgruntled Americans with varying motives.
6) The terrorists steal not one, but two, semi-trucks filled with fertilizer to be used as a part of their plot. The first stolen truck is a mistake.
7) An Agronomy Professor at the University of Minnesota becomes “collateral damage” when he discovers his Saudi graduate assistant rummaging through private papers. The Professor’s body is found floating in the Mississippi.
8) The book contains lots of action – on land, under water and in the air.
9) The 19th Element contains no explicit sex and no gory violence . . . and four letter
words are used only where they are truly required. “What’s left?” you ask. Likeable
characters, cool technology, good humor and adrenaline-pumping action.
10) I wrote the first draft of the book in eighteen days – and later threw out the first ten chapters. The book wasn’t truly ready for publication until thirteen months later.
11) I have shared my own hometown with a nuclear power plant since 1973. The plant generates electricity at the lowest cost per Kwh of any of our electric utility’s power plants.
12) The Red Wing Airport, described in The 19th Element, remained closed to all air traffic for several months after 9/11. The airport is only six miles from the nuclear power plant.
13) In the short run, nuclear power is the cleanest, most environmentally friendly, means of producing electric power. Even wind and hydro are harder on the environment. The environmental challenges appear when the issue of long-term fuel storage arises. Most countries recycle (or reprocess) their nuclear fuel for further use. In the U.S., we can’t seem to agree what to do with it.
I hope the above facts have piqued your interest in The 19th Element. The critics seem to like it. Maybe you will. too.
Thank you for allowing me to visit your blog today. And thanks to you readers also for . . . well . . . reading.
About the 19th Element!
Al Qaeda plans to attack Minnesota’s Prairie River Nuclear Power Plant as a means to return the down-trodden terrorist organization to international prominence.
In addition to their own devoted forces, the terrorists enlist some homegrown anarchists, and a Three Mile Island survivor with a pathological vendetta against the nuclear establishment, to assist in the assault.
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 nuclear facility.
Possessing wisdom born of experience, Beck suspects the terrorists’ intentions as soon as the body of a university professor turns up on the Mississippi shore – the clear victim of foul play.
He recognizes connections between seemingly unrelated incidents – the murdered agronomy professor, a missing lab assistant, an international cell call, a stolen fertilizer truck – 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 international terror.
May the better men win
About John L. Betcher
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 possesses substantial first-hand knowledge of the Prairie River Nuclear Plant’s real world counterpart, as well as Red Wing’s airport and the flight rules around the nuke plant.
In addition to The 19th Element, he has published a second book in the “Beck” series entitled, The Missing Element, A James Becker Mystery. The second book is available everywhere.
The author has also been a long-time supporter and coach of youth volleyball in and around Red Wing and 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.