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The Jefferson Key (Cotton Malone #7)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  12,026 ratings  ·  985 reviews
Four United States presidents have been assassinated -- in 1865, 1881, 1901, and 1963 -- each murder seemingly unrelated and separated by time.

But what if those presidents were all killed for the same reason: a clause in the United States Constitution -- contained within Article 1, Section 8 -- that would shock Americans?

This question is what faces former Justice Departm
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published May 17th 2011 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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The Da Vinci Code by Dan BrownAngels & Demons by Dan BrownThe Lost Symbol by Dan BrownTimeline by Michael CrichtonThe Templar Legacy by Steve Berry
Treasure Hunter Thrillers
45th out of 263 books — 583 voters
The Devil Colony by James RollinsLost in the Bayou by Cornell DeVilleTable 21 by T. Rafael CiminoThe Jefferson Key by Steve BerryThe Traitor's Emblem by Juan Gomez-Jurado
2011 Summer New Books!
4th out of 30 books — 50 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Steve Berry is a bright guy who writes thrillers that are great for people with attention deficit. You get to change location and subject every couple of paragraphs. Wild global ping-pong kinda stuff. When you get to the end, you think well, that was sure a nice ride, but I have no idea what I just read.
Speaking of rides, best damn scene in the whole book is the motorcycle ride down the stairway of a fancy hotel!
This book started out good. I was really enjoying it and planned to read the rest of the series, then...

The action middle of the book has too many characters doing too many things at once. The text skips around so fast you can't follow what is going on with any one character for very long. Even in the center of the character's story, there are single sentences that don't fit with the narrative just popped in. seems like there is some challenge out there for writers to write the most dem
Bob Corrigan
Ugh. I sometimes (often!) wonder how my opinion of a particular book differs so radically from the mainstream view. ? Different tastes, I guess. Anyway, no - I really didn't like this book at all. It irritated me no end. This is one of those 'DaVinci' genre books, complete with all the trimmings: a dark historical secret, a secret group of men that exists to this day, a coded message that no one can break, droppings of historical interest here and there (in this case, the history of piracy - whi ...more
Steve Berry's "The Jefferson Key," mixes history and fiction to produce a story that is interesting and intriguing.

Cotton Malone, former Justice Dept. operative, is summoned to New York only to be caught up in an attempt on the President's life. He manages to stop the assassination and realizes that he had been set up to take the blame if it succeeded.

The story begins with an attempt on Andrew Jackson's life after he informed a group of pirates or privateers, that their services were no longer d
I was excited to receive and review this book. The cover was a hook and I was interested as I have read another book by Mr. Berry and it was great.

1) My advanced edition had three blurbs from authors David Baldacci, Vince Flynn and Brad Meltzer. I have read everything they have written and they raved about this book so I was ready to start.

2) The opening was interesting and hooked me. It had everything you would need. Two assassination attempts on President's, letters of Marque, and a cipher. T
This is one of those political thrillers with chases and clues and spies and secrets. However, I was annoyed throughout by the narration changing so quickly from location and character--several story lines all playing at the same time that eventually coalesce but not until the end. Was it supposed to heighten suspense? Every time a climax or key turning point was reached, the story changed settings. And I mean like every five pages. You get used to it, but I didn't like it. I found the history o ...more
The premise of Cotton Malone investigating a possible conspiracy in our American history had me wanting to read this book as soon as it was released. Previous novels in the Cotton series were fantastic and I was going into this without any care in the world only to find myself disappointed in the long run. I was definitely drawn into the book at the beginning but then was thrown in as many different directions as possible. From dealing with the President one moment to quickly being shifted to co ...more
Susan Johnson
Cotton Malone has taken me on some exciting adventures from the secrets of the Alexandria Library, to a lost fortune of Napoleon's and to an undiscovered tomb of terra cotta warriors in China. This time there are no visits to his bookstore in Denmark because the action takes place in America. The plots involves American pirates, the link between the four presidents assassinated while in office and missing pages from the "Congressional Reacord".
There are a lot of people involved in this book. Th
The latest in the Cotton Malone series, in this one Steve Berry has taken a slight departure from the norm and, to me, not for the better.

For the first time in the series the book is set wholly in the USA. I don't have an issue with this as, being an Australian, the US is as foreign as Europe or Asia. The locations were well researched although it would have been nice to have more interesting ones. Monticello was good as was Pamlico Sound and the treasure resting place which I won't give away. O
As always, Steve Berry spins one hell of a yarn!

For this book, Berry has set his story inside the U.S. and involves the earliest years of the country, when there was no military. Instead the founding fathers offered letters of mark to four individuals - either privateers or pirates, depending who you talk to - who could bedevil the young America's enemies on behalf of the government. In return, they are promised immunity from any prosecution, and the right to keep most of the spoils they acquire
As with previous Cotton Malone outings by Berry, this one does a nice job of blending fact and fiction in an interesting thriller. Also like previous outings (and many thrillers in general), the reader has to accept certain unrealistic rules and stereotypes, including good guys who are expert marksmen while the bad guys can't hit the side of a barn, bad guys who have a chance to simply shoot and kill good guys but don't (for whatever reason), and government good guy types who don't seem to be co ...more
This book was definitely different than previous Cotton Malone books, in that it takes place in the United States. I like it just as much if not more than the previous books. I think that Steve Berry has taken Cotton in a different direction in this book and it works! Stephanie Nelle is not as evident and while I miss Henrik Thorvaldsen, his absence is not noticeable.

This book is a quick, quick summer read - perfect for traveling or the beach. The action is fast paced and is happening simultaneo
This is the first Steve Berry book I have read and I am definitely hooked! This book is so fast paced and often has action happening in two or more locations at once. I love Casseopeia and Cotton - they make a great couple and one thing I love about Steve Berry is no gratuitous sex! That would definitely spoil it for me.

Put this on your "to-read" list for summer and add some more Steve Berry books. You will love them.
At a point in this thriller, one character asks the other "What's the point of all this?" and "Why all the drama?"

Why indeed.

I've never been a fan of the techno-thiller starring the gruff, no-nonsense super-agent. But when this gruff, no-nonsense super agent has to do contend with a gruff, no-nonsense head of an intelligence agency after thwarting an assassination attempt on the gruff, no-nonsense President all the while battling a gruff, no-nonsense nemesis from his past while making witty ban
Christopher Bunn
My wife has a (very much appreciated) habit of randomly selecting books for me when she's at the library. Hardback books with shiny covers that attract the eye like tinfoil attracts magpies. I love her for that (and for many other things).

However, this method means mixed results, sort of like those boxes of Christmas candy that get handed around at the office party. Sometimes you win the lottery and find yourself biting into a delicious nougat wrapped in dark chocolate. Other times you find you
Mr. Berry was recommended to me. I like conspiracy books, I enjoyed reading The DaVinci Code and so I assumed I'd enjoy this one as well.

Not at all.

The first 30 pages were intense. But then the book turned into a mish-mosh of jumbled scenes

Positives: The only positive of this book, in my opinion, was I liked the premise of the book. Definitely interesting. But the premise was the only good thing.


1) Too many--and I mean WAY too many--main characters. There was not really one protagonist
The Jefferson Key by Steve Barry (pp. 480)

Steve Barry apparently read the feedback of his last novel and righted the course. This time ex-Magillen Billet operative, Cotton Malone is on US soil for the duration of the book. An assassination attempt against President Daniels turns into a treasure hunt involving a cipher message left by Andrew Jackson using an encoding scheme created by Thomas Jefferson to locate documents signed by George Washington that have the ability to takedown some very powe
Zohar -
“The Jefferson Key” by Steve Berry is the seventh book in the fictional series featuring Cotton Malone. The story takes place in the United States, which I understand is a departure from previous books in the series.

Cotton Malone gets an email from his boss to show up in NYC at a certain time in a certain hotel room. What Malone doesn’t know is that he is being setup to take the fall in a bold assassination attempt against sitting US president Danny Daniels.

Malone and his girlfriend, Cassiopeia
Candace Salima
Mar 03, 2013 Candace Salima rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ages 14 and Up
Recommended to Candace by: Steve Berry
The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry is another “must read.” I’m sure I’ll review a book soon that I don’t care for, but it’s not this book, and it’s not this day.

“Cotton Malone is known for his overseas exploits. A former-Justice Department operative, who can’t stay out of trouble, he’s found adventures in all parts of Europe (The Templar Legacy, The Paris Vendetta), Central Asia (The Venetian Betrayal), Antarctica (The Charlemagne Pursuit), the Middle East (The Alexandria Link), and China (The Emp
I love Steve Berry's books. Have read them all, with great pleasure. I love his character Cotton Malone. But I have to be honest & say this was not my favorite. Usually he has me hook, line & sinker no later than chapter 2, but with "The Jefferson Key" it took a lot longer than that. I was a little more into it around Chapter 8 and was finally engaged around Chapter 14. That took too much time Mr. Berry!

The pacing is fast enough & all the usual suspects are here. Stephanie Nelle, st
Cotton Malone finds himself in the deadly cross hairs of a political game of cat and mouse, where the stakes are high. When Cotton receives an invitation to meet his old boss, Stephanie Nelle, Cotton accepts. Cotton enters the hotel room where he is to meet Stephanie but she is not there. When Cotton realizes that he has walked into a trap it is too late. Cotton is than captured and charged temporary for the attempted assassination of President Danny Daniels. Once President Daniels learns that C ...more
Typically, the Cotton Malone series delivers a story seemingly built from a recipe. For a book, you need a foreign location, an obscure historical relic, an international syndicate, and Cotton Malone mix them together and out pops a Steve Berry book. Obviously, I don't object to the recipe as this is now my seventh helping. However, this wasn't my favorite version of the recipe. One of the ingredients was left out and I didn't realize how much I liked that element until it didn't turn up.

The ent
The Jefferson Key is the first Cotton Malone mystery to be set in the United States. I was really looking forward to this book, as I enjoy Cotton and his cast of characters. This book features Cotton and Cassiopeia, president Danny Daniels, and a missing Stephanie Nelle.

From the beginning, we are following the story from several different perspectives: Cotton/Cassiopeia, and then three unknowns; Hale (Commonwealth Captain), Knox (Commonwealth quartermaster), and Wyatt (allegiance unknown). In th
When it comes to the Cotton Malone books, I'm somewhat of a glutton for punishment. One of the earlier ones was actually rather enjoyable--I think it was The Romanov Prophecy--but I guess I read them because I like to see what sort of crazy has been cooked up this time. At least it seems that as time goes one, Berry gets better editors. I'll never forget him referring to the "Palais des Popes" in Avignon. Because "popes" is totally how you say "pope" in French.

The Jefferson Key starts off intere
Daniel Audet
In this latest effort from Mastercraftsman - Steve Berry - is clearly at the top of his game. This book is another amazing example of micro detail, historical fact amd imagery weaved into a tale that explodes from the get-go and doesn't let you get up off the floor. Cotton Malone becomes aware of a plot to assassinate the President of the U.S. He is called upon, with Ms.Vitt, to uncover just what is going on and who is behind it. What he discovers may cost him his life. A secret group whose orig ...more
Dave Lohman
fun read

I enjoy the Cotton Malone books, including this one. I'm wondering what he will get involved in through the future books.
Not as entertaining a book as I am used to from Berry, but still a great effort. The book examines the presidential assassinations and how they all tie together, through an underground group, The Commonwealth.

Berry also examines the world of pirates and privateers in this latest edition of the Cotton Malone series. Malone stays on this side of the Atlantic and pits him against this underground group and his nemesis from the short story The Devil's Gold.

The storyline did drag a little at times, b
I liked alot about this book. Very informative on the subject matter of pirates. Also the budding relationship between Cotton and Cassiopeia. There were elements to the book that I had a hard time keeping up with. One was the nip and tuck of events pinwheeling almost out of control. One page at one location. The next page at a different location. Is it just me or does a Chapter being only a page and a half just wrong.Finally the Protagonist in the book was not very believable. Loved the subject ...more
How do you know a book is bad.

Here we have our hero going to Monticello.

He made his way toward where a shuttle bus would ferry him and the first group...up the mountainside. The fifty or so people consisted of many teenagers...."This ought to be neat,' one of them said.

Hmmm...teenagers thinking a tour of Monticello is going to be neat.

Also, it is so annoying to have these kind of discrepancies. Our heroine is talking to the POTUS.

"Are you and Stephanie...involved?'
"Not at all. I doubt she even
I found this to be a great book. Better than I expected, and being a history buff, this is no-holds-barred! Mixing history with facts, this book held my attention from start to finish. The author did not overwhelm with useless information that added pages to the book, but no information.
Fighting the Government, Cotton Malone is focused not only on success, but on the woman who is holding his heart captive. There are twists and turns here, but not a whole lot I can say without giving you spoiler
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Historical Fictio...: Has anyone read The Jefferson Key? 3 30 Apr 06, 2012 11:20AM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Patriot Threat, The Lincoln Myth, The King's Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor's Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The
More about Steve Berry...

Other Books in the Series

Cotton Malone (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Templar Legacy (Cotton Malone, #1)
  • The Alexandria Link (Cotton Malone, #2)
  • The Venetian Betrayal (Cotton Malone, #3)
  • The Charlemagne Pursuit (Cotton Malone, #4)
  • The Paris Vendetta (Cotton Malone, #5)
  • The Emperor's Tomb (Cotton Malone, #6)
  • The King's Deception (Cotton Malone, #8)
  • The Lincoln Myth (Cotton Malone, #9)
  • The Patriot Threat (Cotton Malone, #10)
  • The 14th Colony (Cotton Malone, #11)
The Alexandria Link (Cotton Malone, #2) The Templar Legacy (Cotton Malone, #1) The Venetian Betrayal (Cotton Malone, #3) The Romanov Prophecy The Amber Room

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