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The Covert Element

(James Becker #3)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  219 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Former military intelligence operative, James "Beck" Becker and his CIA code-cracking wife, Beth, have retired to Beck's hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota. Their retirement has already proven more exhilarating than they'd expected. But they could never have anticipated the new source of crime and intrigue in their small community. A Mexican drug cartel has set up shop a few ...more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published May 28th 2011 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (first published April 23rd 2011)
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Jason Pettus
Jan 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

I recently received not just one but two new books from author John L. Betcher, so thought I would do a review of both of them at once too; and this is unfortunately easier to do with A Higher Court, a wispy, extra-silly examination of basic theological questions (and by "basic" I mean "teenage") couched a
Andrew Ian  Dodge
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great book.
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Covert Element
Author: John Betcher
Reviewed by Fran Lewis

What would you do if someone were cooking up meth in your backyard? What would you do to stop it and how far would you go? Drug cartels do more than just sell, create, profit and make their own drugs. Their leaders are dangerous and their henchman even more. In 1985 Master Sergeant Fuentes proved to be equally as dangerous by executing, planning and orchestrating a plan to bring down the major drug cartel family on their home ground.
Martha Cheves
Aug 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Covert Element – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds

‘Whether drugs or not, it was hard for me to imagine that the scene I had observed this morning could possibly portend anything but headaches and misery for the residents of Ottawa County. “But twenty-three dead…When’s the last time that sort of mass execution happened in the U.S.?” Beth stared into space. “Gotta be when that crazy Hennard guy drove his pickup truck through the front wind
Jun 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. Th
Joy Young
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Cartel Hits Minnesota

Great read, good mystery, good plot. Recommend for mystery readers who like action. Learned a little about drug cartels too!
Marilou George
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book that I have read by John L. Betcher and I was totally enthralled throughout the whole story. It was very evident from the onset that the author did his homework to get the accurate facts and details to make this story enticing and believable.

The characters of James Becker a semi-retired lawyer, his wife Beth, the “computer goddess” Terry "Bull" Red Feather an American Indian and Doug Gunderson (Gunner), Ottawa County Chief Deputy Sheriff successfully bring richness and fla
Sammy Sutton
Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Betcher continues his James Becker series with the third installment, The Covert Element. The semi-retired lawyer, Becker, his wife, Beth, friend, Bull, and the local lawman, Gunner return to create a fascinating foursome of core characters. Redwing, Minnesota, at a glance may seem unlikely, but the thriller gives rise to the evidence.

Again, the author tackles a fragile current issue, using his phenomenal knowledge, he weaves fact into fiction. The thriller’s journey guides the reader back
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was another good contemporary thriller. I really enjoy the character of Beck, and think that in a lot of ways he rivals Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan.

In this novel, the Mexican Cartels come to Minnesota. After a mass murder happens in sleepy(?) Ottawa County, Beck is given information that a major Mexican cartel may be producing meth on a large scale in his back yard. Taking this information to his buddy, Chief Deputy Gunderson, they begin to look into the possibility of a major meth lab being loc
William Bentrim
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Covert Element by John L. Betcher
Once again, James Becker, a retired agent of some type is a small town attorney. James Becker has retired from a terrorism fight to live a sedentary life with his wife and girls safe in a small, insular community. In his first book, The 19th Element detailed the story of a Islamic terrorists’ attack on a nearby nuclear plant. This time Becker gets entwined with a drug cartel.
Once again I am impressed how John so thoroughly humanizes his protagonist. (John B
Bailey Bristol
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who read Ted Bell, Lee Child
Recommended to Bailey by: the author
This is my first James Becker thriller, and I will definitely be coming back for more! As a writer, I appreciate the skill with which John Betcher wove a very complex story, casting the plot back and forth from earlier days to the present. His Becker character is immensely likeable, and the chemistry between Becker and his technomaven wife is unique and refreshing. Their magnetism is exceeded only by their mutual respect.

Betcher's knowledge of all aspects of his story contributed hugely to makin
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 3rd Beck book. Again, it is pretty much a stand alone book from the other two (there were only a couple of references to the other books). While still a very good book with some good action and a couple of unresolved twists, I honestly didn't enjoy it as much as the first two. I'm fairly certain it's because of the drug cartel theme (and the fact I was kind of getting tired of reading "Babe" every time Beck and Beth addressed each other). Not that I don't enjoy reading thrillers rega ...more
John R. Hoffman
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
In book #3 of the James Becker series, it is becoming clear that life isn't as quiet and safe in Red Wing, Minnesota as the chamber of commerce would like you to think. A drug cartel has set up a major meth lab in the neighborhood and a mysterious comrade-in-arms from Bull's mysterious past is on a mission to blow it up. It looks like a major drug war is going to erupt if Beck is not able to head it off. The main characters are memorable, well-developed, and authentic. I became confused at spots ...more
Ben Woodard
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beck is back for the third book and this is the best yet. Suspense, action, and obvious detailed research by the author. While I enjoyed the first two books, they lagged a bit at times. Not this one. It grabs you like a angry pit bull and doesn't let go until the last line. And after the cover is closed, the excitement remains. I especially liked learning more about Bull - one of my favorite characters. The story and writing gets better with each book. Can't wait for the next Beck!
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Another wonderful Becker adventure. This is my third read of the series and I still love it as much as the first. Beck, Beth, Gunner and Bull feel like lifelong friends. The characters are well developed and familiar, yet still evolving. The storyline is completely believable and right out of today's times. Another great edge of your seat read. Just picked up the latest in the series and can't wait to get started on it.
Barrie Penman
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, action
(Kindle Freebie)
A page turner, no boring chapters so far, 50% read
Lots of exciting action.
All loose ends nicely accomplished and tied up..... or are they!
Drugs and Cartels are messy but I guess its a bit like killing off the Greek Lernaean Hydra Serpent.
I hate to think all that cunning planning has been for nought.
Sharon Michael
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, fast read with flashbacks and different POVs that were not confusing. Great characters, I really liked both of the main characters. Debated a bit on the rating and probably would give this 4 1/2 stars if available, but the fact that it was the guy that got kidnapped and his wife that got away and got him rescued bumped it from a 4 star to a 5 star.

More of these are on my TBR list.

While to book was unable to hold my interest mainly because I didn't connect easily Beck and I'm not a fan of tales that keep switching time point I will admit the set up was believable and the author has done his research.
If you like a twisty thriller this will probably be for you.
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: action, adventure, fiction
i really enjoyed this book. it was a little strange how the author switched back and forth between 1st & 3rd person but I was able to follow it. It was a good read but it did seem a little confusing in the end to sort it all out.
Ryne Pearson
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intelligent thriller that weaves the echoes of recent events into a lively narrative. Plotted deftly, this is a recommended read for all who appreciate stories in the vein of Clancy and Flynn.
Feb 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Fun characters, wacky plot, and an unexpected ending...made for an entertaining read.
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Once again, another entertaining novel with Beck leading the way to solve Red Wing crime.
Kristina Franken
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book for anyone

FTC: I received a free copy of this book and was not reimbursed in any other way.
Feb 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Steve by: Pixel of Ink
Good action thriller read, if you are into drug cartels and ex-agents.
Ryne Pearson
Jun 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
An intelligent thriller that weaves the echoes of recent events into a lively narrative. Plotted deftly, this is a recommended read for all who appreciate stories in the vein of Clancy and Flynn.
Bob Ely
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Keeps you guessing till the very end.
Debby Cash
rated it it was ok
May 08, 2015
Stacey Thomas
rated it really liked it
Jun 21, 2014
rated it really liked it
Jan 15, 2012
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Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook TOP 100 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-

Other books in the series

James Becker (5 books)
  • The 19th Element (James Becker, #1)
  • The Missing Element (James Becker, #2)
  • The Exiled Element (James Becker, #4)
  • The Critical Element (James Becker #5)