The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry. Ballantine Books, 2011. (Published May 17)
It’s no secret that Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone series is one of my favorites. In this installment, Cotton is drawn back to America by a mysterious note from his former boss, Stephanie Nelle. He quickly finds himself in the middle of a setup and must foil an attempt to assassinate President Daniels. Afterwards, Cotton has to figure out not only who is behind the attempt on the President but also who tried to frame Cotton him for it. Plus, Stephanie is now missing and may be in danger. Cotton’s investigation puts him up against a secret society of pirates who call themselves the Commonwealth. The families of the Commonwealth were privateers during the American Revolution and given extraordinary latitude by the government. The Commonwealth is on a mission to protect their privateering rights and gain power by locating a missing government document.
Berry injects history into his mystery as he always does, which is what makes me love the Cotton Malone series. However, there are fewer flashbacks to the past in The Jefferson Key. Berry leaves us primarily in the present and we learn our history secondhand. This is the first time a Cotton Malone mystery has been set in the U.S. Because of this, I missed some of the fascination for another culture of which I know nothing that I usually get from the series. I also wish I’d sprung for my new iPad before reading this book so I could have read Berry’s short story/eBook Original, The Devil’s Gold, in which he introduces a key character in The Jefferson Key first.
However, I still greatly enjoyed The Jefferson Key. I love the cast of characters Steve Berry has created and was excited to find Cotton and Cassiopeia becoming more of a couple. I love the history Berry draws on to create fascinating and conspiratorial mysteries. I hate waiting for the next Cotton Malone book. If you are a fan of Cotton Malone, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by The Jefferson Key.
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The Jefferson Key