The Exiled Element – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; A Book and A Dish; Think With Your Taste Buds
Inside a classified underground laboratory twenty-five miles northeast of Cairo, three white-coated Egyptian scientists labored over a small pile of aluminum casting on the table before them. They were building a model airplane. But it wasn’t just any airplane…it was Aurora. They had manufactured the parts in 1/30th scale with the highest possible precision based on digitized plans provided to the engineers by the United States of America. Well…the plans were definitely of U.S. origin, but perhaps the word ‘provided’ wasn’t entirely accurate. An operative of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (GIS) – Egypt’s version of the CIA – had procured the plans from the Americans. A certain U. S. Senator with an immense assortment of scandalous baggage had facilitated the delivery. After acquiring the Top Secret information, GIS had sought out these three scientists – considered Egypt’s finest minds in aeronautical engineering. What was their opinion? Could they turn these technical drawings and specifications into a tangible product – into the fastest air-breathing plane on the planet?
Beth Becker is retired from the CIA but still works part-time doing CIA decryption work from her home in Red Wing, Minnesota. When she is summoned to their McLean, Virginia headquarters she is assuming it’s another decryption project. That turns out to be not quite the case. She will soon be on her way to the U. S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt to make contact with a woman she knew from past years while serving at the embassy. Apparently the woman known as Rasha is now in a computer programming position with her own government and has run across information regarding an assassination that will be taking place in the U.S., target unknown.
Beth’s husband ‘Beck’ has been asked by the Red Wing Deputy Sheriff Gunner to help out in a security job protecting an unknown Senator that will be coming into town. Seems that there have been other attempts on the Senator in the past so security has been beefed up and Gunner would like Beck’s ex military help. The security goes well in the beginning but becomes a failed assignment when the Senator is assassinated while leaving the Red Wing Hotel where he had just given a speech. To find his killer, Beck engages the help of his long time friend Mr. Red Feather, AKA Bull.
Unknown to Beth and Beck, their assignments are about to collide and become one. The key to their jobs are non-other than the U.S.’s Top Secret plane Aurora. And when Beth comes up missing, Beck sees the Embassy as doing very little to find her, making it his and Bull’s job to take on the task themselves.
I can’t get enough of the “Beck” Suspense/Thriller Series! The Exiled Element is the 4th in the series and I’ve read them all. They just keep getting better and better with the stories of espionage, the CIA and a couple, along with their friends, who refuse to let the U.S. down. John L. Betcher has truly become one of my favorite authors.