If you enjoy reading adventure fiction seasoned with history and featuring seemingly indestructible heroes and heroines, you’ll like Steve Berry’s The Jefferson Key.
Berry has taken the assassination of four presidents, Thomas Jefferson’s fondness for ciphers, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, (go ahead, look it up), President Andrew Jackson, the privateers who harassed the British during the Revolutionary War and their modern-day descendants, and stirred them all into a rousing modern day tale of daring-do.
The story revolves around a search for missing documents that can only be located by unraveling Jefferson’s cipher and the clues it contains.
An assassination attempt on the president is foiled by former Justice Department operative, Cotton Malone, (this is Berry’s seventh book starring Malone) who becomes involved in the search at the president’s behest.
Keeping up with the many characters and their various travails requires some scene jumping, which can leave the reader a bit breathless. However, the author manages to tie it all together with an ethically challenged member of the US intelligence community (not all the villains are pirates) and various other subplots for a satisfying conclusion before the end of the book. To say more would spoil the fun.
The Jefferson Key was an enjoyable and welcome change from more serious reading. This reviewer’s appreciation was much enhanced by having recently read Robert Patton’s Patriot Pirates. In that review I noted that it was often difficult to sort the patriots from the scoundrels. In Berry’s book that is not a problem. The descendent of the Pirates, who is the arch villain of the story, is heroic only in his own mind.
The author’s note at the end of the book separates fact from fiction and is a nice bonus. He also shares updates on the locales in which the plot takes place.
Berry ably combines lesser-known American history with a fast paced plot and throws in some political commentary for good measure. This reviewer is hooked for books one through six.