The Critical Element - John L. Betcher, Author

12:35 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves


 
Fresh Sweet Salsa
(A Beck Special)

3 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 
4 teaspoons chopped fresh jalapeno pepper (including seeds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)

Stir all ingredients together. Refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled.

 

The Critical Element - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Rodney slid back in the chair, his hands gripping the armrests.  he cracked his neck to both sides before beginning his tale.  "It was yesterday afternoon," he said.  "Sunday...and I was out on the John Deere checking my fields, you know...and all of a sudden I hear this sound.  It was a kinda weird sound, you know?"  "It was kinda like whoosh-thud...tumble, tumble, tumble," he said.  "So I got up and looked toward the sound."   ..."something was knocking down my corn"... "This thing, whatever it was, knocked down maybe thirty or forty feet of head-high corn stalks, in a straight line," he continued.  "I saw the last ones go down."  He clapped one flattened hand downward onto the other.  "Then all was quiet." 

..."I stand up straight and look around," he said, "my wrench hand at the ready.  But there's no sign of man nor beast." ... So I stoop down and start pawing through the grass and then...just when I'm about to give up, the back of my hand hits something big and solid in the grass."  ..."I decided to give the thing a kick with my boot."  "And voila,... there it was."  "It was a meteor!"

Rodney Holton was a local farmer known in the city of Red Wing, Minnesota for his flim-flammery, so when he recited his story to Attorney James Becker, Beck had his doubts as to how much was true and how much wasn't.  And to assure his belief he and his wife Beth decided to pay a visit to Rodney's farm where he displayed his 'meteor' and charged $20.00 per person to view.  Yep, Rodney was up to his old tricks again.  The taped off area that contained burned grass and what appeared to be a bowling ball dug into the ground didn't quite fit the story he had relayed to Beck.  Yet there was something that just didn't ring quite right that had Beck believing there might be a bit more to Rodney's story.  When the FBI turns up looking for the meteor, Beck's feelings proved true.   What didn't quite fit was the finding of Hoof and Mouth Disease that were found in Rodney's cattle.  This strain appeared to be found only in the South African tribal farming area, so how did it get to the US.  And what is its connection with the meteor? 

The answers to these questions plus, lead Beck and the FBI to suspect North Korea has a hand in at least one part of the mystery.  Their beliefs are reinforced when the meteor turns up missing and is found to have been in the presence of a Korean man who was found dead with traces of a fluffy, white powder that is such a favorite of terrorists world-wide - Anthrax.  After a search of the man's work place Beck and agent Costa discover half of the powder found had been mixed with another white substance.  What was missing was the other half of undiluted powder that could kill thousands if placed in the right venue. 

I've read everything John L. Betcher has written and every time I think he can't get any better.  Well he does.  The Critical Element is by far his best in the James Becker series.  I can't wait to see what Beck will do next.

 

1 comments:

  1. John Betcher said...

    Thanks, Martha. You're awesome!

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