Title: The Jefferson Key
Author: Steve Berry
Release Date: May 17, 2011
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical Thriller
Rating: 4 out of 5
Cotton Malone is back in the seventh installment of Steve Berry’s series. He receives a cryptic note from his former boss, Stephanie Nelle, which leads him to a setup. After being framed for an assassination attempt on U.S. President Daniels, Cotton must figure out who wants to kill the president and why, why he is involved, and what has happened to Stephanie.
The latest novel in the Cotton Malone series finds Cotton on familiar soil – that of the United States. In six books, Cotton has traveled all over the world, so it is fitting that for the seventh, he returns home. It provided a unique twist on the novel, still maintaining the global nature of these books while zeroing in on very familiar territory.
The mystery in The Jefferson Key is a thrilling one and the fact that it’s based on real history makes it both fun and intriguing. The history is incredibly important to this book, but the central emphasis of the story is on the present, rather than the past. It’s the consequences of the specific historical facts contained within the novel that Cotton is trying to deal with.
There is a larger emphasis on action in The Jefferson Key than in previous novels, and I was honestly surprised it worked so well for me. Usually in thrillers, when the focus is shifted from the historical, I lose interest, but that wasn’t the case with this book. Berry’s writing style is choppy, but gripping, and I appreciated that he didn’t try to make everything some sort of vast historical conspiracy. Instead, he took a look at the history and made a story work with what worked with the facts, and what a story it is.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Jefferson Key and am already anticipating the next Cotton Malone novel. Berry picks such great locations for his novels, and has built such a wonderful cast of characters, I can’t wait to see where they go next. This is a great series that is easy to read and entertaining, and Berry never fails to keep me engaged from one book to the next.