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The Jefferson Key

(Cotton Malone #7)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  19,045 ratings  ·  1,294 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 Departmen

Hardcover, 456 pages
Published May 17th 2011 by Ballantine Books
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  19,045 ratings  ·  1,294 reviews

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Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
Hang on to your Seat – It’s a Roller Coaster!
Steve Berry is a favourite author and his recent book does not disappoint. After reading just a few electrifying paragraphs suddenly it would leap effortlessly to yet another scene creating an exhilarating roller coaster of a ride throughout the entire book. Quite remarkable as other books can confuse the reader by jumping back and forth. But not so with the Jefferson Key. It flowed along smoothly, and was a very exciting, suspenseful read. Highly rec
Feb 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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!
Bob Corrigan
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
✰ Bianca ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰

Cotton Malone!
I just love these books. Cotton is amazing. You learn something about history and the world and it's super exciting!
And this book was just as great as the others - BUT ... there was a bit too much Pirate stuff in there. It was just too much. There are also too many people telling the story - we have 5 POVs!
And sometimes Steve just drones on and on about things I wasn't interested in. BUT, I also still loved the book. I love Cotton and Cass together and the last 150 pages were reall
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
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
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
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
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I have always enjoyed Steve Berry's style of fast paced writing, he keeps the story moving along really well. I did, however, struggle a little with this entry in the Cotton Malone series, as it is not so much an adventure this time around as a struggle to protect the President from an historical threat that had extended its grasp from the past into the present. I found that it didn't capture my attention and I did find my interest waning I hope that the next instalment revitalises my love of th ...more
Steven Z.
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I began reading Steve Berry novels over a decade ago beginning with THE TEMPLAR LEGACY. Mr. Berry’s command of history and his innovative approach to storytelling were readily apparent and having read seven more of his works I have never been disappointed. Berry’s central character Harold Earl “Cotton” Malone, lawyer, former member of an elite Justice Department group, pilot, and naval officer, leads his readers through interesting plot lines within the context of fascinating historical palates. ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2011
Excellent read, but it was a bit difficult keeping all the players straight. The POV kept changing, sometimes as often as every paragraph. Really enjoyed the storyline and all the backstabbing! I hadn't visited with Cotton Malone since THE ALEXANDRIA LINK, and really shouldn't stay away so long. ...more
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

Libraries are awesome! This is one of the series that I can read via library loans. As always, interesting mix of history and closer to home politics were woven into this story. I find most of the Cotton Malone stories to be either starts well and ends on a neutral tone or slow build with better pacing towards the end. I have yet to read one where it's well paced from start to finish.
Nov 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
May 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
What an exciting tale all based on historical fact regarding pirates of the USA created by letters of marque issued by Congress and President Washington and believe it or not the US Constitution. England, France, and even Spain had their own pirates as well.

American didn't sign the treaty when piracy was outlawed by many countries back in the 18th century. The United States nor France signed the treaty. Spain and Great Britain did. Which means according to our Constitution, letters of marque ca
Stacy Bearse
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is an entertaining novel, but not as sophisticated or ground-breaking as the six prior books in the Cotton Malone series. Author Steve Berry shifts his background from Europe to the U.S. and Nova Scotia. The characters are familiar to those who have read Berry's earlier books, but so are the chases and fight scenes. An author writing a multi-book series faces the challenge of maintaining continuity while continuing to create new and imaginative stories. I'll take a break before I plow throu ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: electronic
no dossier, eh?

yo ho ho and a bottle of rum;
i kept expecting for some pieces of eight to turn up

p78: kennedy's protection was waved off for political reasons.

p106: her right hand held a revolver.
p107: he noticed that her weapon was sound-suppressed.

p180: the front door slowly opened and a dark formed stepped inside.

p240: she was visibly upset at the site of the missing wheel.

p265: "...if we had, we would taken preventive measures."

p265: "i'd say that should be tops on your list," daniels said.

Belle Ami
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Jefferson Key is a quick-paced thriller, filled with short chapters that end with cliffhangers forcing the reader to turn the page. The book is beautifully interwoven with real American history that gives this “Mister Toad’s Wild Ride” intriguing credence and an enjoyable relatability to those of us who love to learn a little something when we read.
It’s hard to go wrong with a superman hero, Cotton Malone, his kick-ass love interest, Cassiopeia Vitt who holds her own when trouble comes to a
Lisa Johnson
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Title: The Jefferson Key
Author: Steve Berry
Pages: 480
Year: 2011
Publisher: Ballantine Books
My rating 5 out of 5 stars.
Each book I read of Steve Berry’s is for me a lesson in the nuance of historical events and people. While the book is a work of fiction, at the end he kindly separates the facts from the fiction of his work. I am constantly amazed at the number of events that have escaped my notice or memory that make the novels all the more captivating to me from start to finish.
Cotton Malone rea
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
Nov 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, ebooks, thrillers
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
Sep 09, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
Didn't end up finishing this one, just skimmed the last half since it was so boring. So many gun fights that have no purpose, so many flashbacks when there are way better ways to get info out, far too many narrators who were all written as if they were the same person so I couldn't tell them apart, and one of the coolest topics (pirates) turned into a really boring book about politics. When I first read the description of this, I thought it sounded like it might be the best book in the series ye ...more
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
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
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
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.
What a mess, this book needs a lot of editing to make it cohesive. It's like someone cut up the pages, tossed them in the air and picked them up and bound it all up for this book. It also isn't really what is advertised on the back. Women in this book are pretty in appearance but portrayed as inept cannon fodder except for the villainess. The pace is nonstop and unbelievable and just gets wilder and wilder. Also the government is blind, deaf and dumb, so is society. The pov shifts (there are WAY ...more
John Lee
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
A continuation of the Cotton Malone series and if you like the American adventure story then you will enjoy this 'Dan Brownesque' series.
I think that I have said before that I am old enough to remember when it was easy to tell the Good Guys from the Bad Guys because the Goodies always wore the lighter hats. Here much of the story concerns the rivalry among the various groups of supposedly Good Guys who make up America's Security Services and there is more double crossing than you would find in t
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wanted a thriller, so I went to a favorite, Steve Berry. For the first time in a Cotton Malone story, nearly all the action was in the United States. And Cassiopeia Vitt became a more central character as well. This time, a now obscure article in the U.S. Constitution is the focus, as the generational descendants of privateers first granted a letter of marque described in that Article, by the first Congress, are bringing all of their efforts to not lose the broad power granted to them by that ...more
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Historical Fictio...: Has anyone read The Jefferson Key? 3 36 Apr 06, 2012 11:20AM  

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Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of nineteen novels, which include: The Warsaw Protocol , The Malta Exchange, The Bishop’s Pawn, The Lost Order, The 14th Colony, The Patriot Threat, The Lincoln Myth, The King's Deception, The Columbus Affair,

Other books in the series

Cotton Malone (1 - 10 of 16 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)

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