Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Review - The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry

The Jefferson Key
(Cotton Malone 07)
Steve Berry
Trade Paperback
462 pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Scheduled Release Date: May 17, 2011
Advance Readers Copy – Amazon Vine
ISBN: 978-0345505514


Disclaimer – The copy used to review Steve Berry’s The Jefferson Key was received as an ARC from the Vine Program. In addition, I’d like to mention that I currently own all seven of the books and have been a fan since the first installment (see complete list below for the books in the series.) I’ve enjoyed reading every one of the Cotton Malone books and have previously given either four or four-and-a-half star ratings to each of the six previous volumes. So you know what’s coming…

But first, a short word regarding the main character, Cotton Malone.

In my estimation, Cotton Malone should go down in history as the literary equivalent of such heroic champions as James Bond, Mack Bolan, and Doc Savage. Mr. Berry’s ex-Justice Department operative retains many of the same attributes as the other three but he is also something more. He is the quintessential male action-adventure character with a suave and sophisticated persona but is also thoughtful and dignified and, more importantly, extremely likeable, even to the most pedestrian or casual of readers. He is described as possessing great physical strength and endurance, is sharp-witted with an eidetic memory, and holds a mastery of everything related to working undercover. To those who love exemplary thrillers he is the perfect protagonist. He has a sixth sense for side-stepping trouble and is always one step ahead of his pursuers (even when he appears not to be.) In my opinion, he should be considered one of the most memorable characters of our time. Whether that happens or not is up to the masses to decide. Cotton Malone, however, is important enough in the pantheon of outstanding secret agents to be mentioned separately from the book here and to be included with the other greats of the genre. And, so I have.

And… on to the book review.

An assassination plot against the President of the United States has been discovered and Cotton Malone, unwittingly lured to the scene of the crime, races to stop it. But, along the way, he unearths chilling evidence that links all four past Presidential murders, Lincoln in 1865, Garfield in 1881, McKinley in 1901, and Kennedy in 1963 to a group known simply as The Commonwealth, a secret society of pirates first assembled during the American Revolution. Their work unfinished, they have targeted the President for elimination. Even more disturbing than the attack on the most powerful man in the world is the secret buried in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution that might provide the Commonwealth unlimited power.

With as memorable, fast-paced, and exciting an opening as I’ve ever read The Jefferson Key is another excellent example of a clever plot filled with mystery, intrigue, and action. Berry has the uncanny ability to pull you into the story and not let you back out until the last word. Add an intriguing main character, questionable government activity, loads of action, and a self-serving secret society and you have all the elements of a perfectly crafted thriller. I like to read to escape and most of what I read does just that. With Mr. Berry’s work, however, I also seem to be completely entertained throughout my escapism. Bonus, for me… and for you too. I recommend Steve Berry for mature readers of all ages and genres.

4 ½ out of 5 stars

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

The complete Cotton Malone collection consists of the following seven books and one short story:
0. The Devil’s Due (2006) Short Story (as part of James Patterson’s Thriller
1. The Templar Legacy (2006)
2. The Alexandria Link (2007)
3. The Venetian Betrayal (2007)
4. The Charlemagne Pursuit (2008)
5. The Paris Vendetta (2009)
6. The Emperor's Tomb (2010)
7. The Jefferson Key (2011)

Additional Reading:

Steve Berry

Official Author Page

Author Wiki Page

The Jefferson Key

The Jefferson Key Page

Author’s Book Page

Bonus material - Cotton Malone Dossier

The Jefferson Key Excerpt


Anonymous said...

The Jefferson Key holds you spellbound page after page. This is Berry's finest hour in my opinion. Both my husband and I enjoyed the twists and turns.
A must read. Berry tells history with such finesse that it grips you and makes one stay up all night to read it cover to cover.

The Alternative One said...

Agreed! Thus the 4 1/2 star rating. Cotton Malone is a great character and I hope that Berry keeps up the series. I've enjoyed every one of the books immensely and couldn't agree with you more (on all counts.)