The Jefferson Key (with Bonus Short Story The Devil's Gold): A Novel

Paperback | December 27, 2011

bySteve Berry

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Four presidents of the United States have been assassinated—in 1865, 1881, 1901, and 1963—each murder seemingly unrelated. But what if those presidents were all killed for the shocking same reason: a clause contained in the United States Constitution? This is the question faced by former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone. When President Danny Daniels is nearly killed in the heart of Manhattan, Malone risks his life to foil the murder—only to find himself at odds with the Commonwealth, a secret society of pirates first assembled during the American Revolution. Racing across the nation and taking to the high seas, Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt must break a secret cipher originally possessed by Thomas Jefferson, unravel a mystery concocted by Andrew Jackson, and unearth a document forged by the Founding Fathers themselves—one powerful enough to make the Commonwealth unstoppable.

Don’t miss Steve Berry’s short story “The Devil’s Gold” and an excerpt from The King''s Deception in the back of the book.

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From the Publisher

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERFour presidents of the United States have been assassinated—in 1865, 1881, 1901, and 1963—each murder seemingly unrelated. But what if those presidents were all killed for the shocking same reason: a clause contained in the United States Constitution? This is the question faced by former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone. When President Danny Daniels is near...

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of 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 Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with more than 18,000,0...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:592 pages, 7.6 × 4.1 × 1.4 inPublished:December 27, 2011Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345505522

ISBN - 13:9780345505521

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Key to the End? Using Article I, Section 8 of the American Constitution as a launching pad—which section provides the government with the power to bestow letters of marque to privateers—Steve Berry weaves a complex, plot-driven thriller that allows him to explore the present challenges legal intricacies of the past can create while theorising a story that links together the four presidential assassinations. The novel revolves around the theme of revenge, as well as exploring the theme of endings and new beginnings. With his usual aplomb, Berry has written a novel that titillates the reader with action, intrigue, and the personal growth of his characters that leaves the reader satisfied with a good read and the sense of a job well done. The most memorable aspect of Berry’s novels is his characters. The Jefferson Key is the seventh in a series of novels following the protagonist Cotton Malone, as well as a fair cast of reoccurring characters. The author has a vested interest in his main characters, who by the seventh book are like close friends to the reader. This is not, however, solely the result of long exposure, but brought to fruition through the development and care Berry shows toward them. One of the particular strengths of Berry’s writing and his character depiction is that the reader does not need to know what happened before in order to see the characters walk on the scene of the novel fully formed. Character development is important to Berry’s novels, and creates a satisfying journey for the reader. The author does an excellent job of highlighting any previously revealed character traits and development, repeating just the right amount of backstory every novel, so that the reader can fully appreciate the characters’ actions and reactions. Such examples include Cotton’s dislike of small, cramped spaces (since childhood) and the number of times he has had to face this fear, every time getting over it a bit more; or Stephanie Nelle—Cotton’s former boss—who is ever tormented by loneliness and the tragic loss of her husband and only child. These character developments—the latter particularly—can tie closely into the plots of the novels. The primary themes running through The Jefferson Key are revenge and endings and beginnings. The novel begins with a bang of suspense where Cotton is set up (as a result of a personal vendetta held by a former co-worker, Jonathan Wyatt) in order to avert an assassination attempt on the President of the United States (a revenge plot concocted by a group of privateers, called the Commonwealth). This establishes the main plot whereby Cotton, Wyatt, and the Commonwealth are all competing on a quest to find missing Congressional documents legalising the Commonwealth’s right to exist and operate. The sub-plot of the novel focuses on the internal struggles of the First Family. The revenge theme is reflected here through the cold relationship between the President and the First Lady as the result of a long past tragedy. The theme of endings and beginnings permeate the sub-plot. It is the end of the President’s term and the end of his marriage, but both he and the First Lady are involved in secret new relationships. This theme also creeps up in the other characters as well: Cotton and his girlfriend, Cassiopeia, explore their new relationship; Stephanie finds an end to her grief and opens herself up to love again; and Wyatt leaves behind his vendetta, ready to start his life over. The theme of revenge provides the entertainment for the reader, while the endings and beginnings provides some closure for what will be, for a time at least, the last novel in the Cotton Malone series. The settings are various locations in the eastern United States (and one in Canada), which influence the plot because of the topic of the novel. All of the locations used impart appropriate atmospheres for the events taking place and characters that reside there. For instance, the isolated, sea-adjacent compound of the Commonwealth reminds the reader of a hidden pirates’ den, and the climatic showdown between Cotton and Wyatt amid the wind and sea-swept ruins of Paw Island evokes the dangerous tension between opposing forces. Berry’s writing style is concise without being choppy, telling the reader exactly what is necessary without weighing down the reader with unnecessary detail. This works well with the thriller genre, keeping the reader from trying to read faster than the brain can comprehend. The dialogue suits the situation, either developing character or providing information, and the shortness of the chapters, always ending with a cliff-hanger, keep the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next. Steve Berry’s The Jefferson Key is an exciting and satisfying read, appealing to both lovers of action and well-developed characters while keeping the levels of suspense high. This is a definite page-turner and will be difficult to put down. A highly recommended read.
Date published: 2012-03-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 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 recommended for those action packed readers.
Date published: 2012-03-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Amazing Read Cotton Malone is back and better than ever. A very well written book whereby author, Steve Berry, takes us on a historical thrillride. A story filled with suspense, history and politics. Very well written and Cotton to the rescue...again!!
Date published: 2012-02-11

Extra Content

Read from the Book

ONE NEW YORK CITY SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, THE PRESENT 6:13 pm One mistake was not enough for Cotton Malone.He made two. Error number one was being on the fifteenth floor of the Grand Hyatt hotel. The request had come from his old boss Stephanie Nelle, through an email sent two days ago. She needed to see him, in New York, on Saturday. Apparently, the subject matter was something they could discuss only in person. And apparently, it was important. He'd tried to call anyway, phoning Magellan Billet headquarters in Atlanta, but was told by her assistant, "She's been out of the office for six days now on DNC."   He knew better than to ask where.DNC. Do Not Contact.That meant don't call me, I'll call you.He'd been there before himself the agent in the field, deciding when best to report in. That status, though, was a bit unusual for the head of the Magellan Billet. Stephanie was responsible for all twelve of the department's covert operatives. Her task was to supervise. For her to be DNC meant that something extraordinary had attracted her attention. He and Cassiopeia Vitt had decided to make a New York weekend of the trip, with dinner and a show after he discovered what Stephanie wanted. They'd flown from Copenhagen yesterday and checked into the St. Regis, a few blocks north of where he now stood. Cassiopeia chose the accommodations and, since she was also paying for them, he hadn't protested. Plus, it was hard to argue with regal ambience, breathtaking views, and a suite larger than his apartment in Denmark. He'd replied to Stephanie's email and told her where he was staying. After breakfast this morning, a key card for the Grand Hyatt had been waiting at the St. Regis' front desk along with a room number and a note. PLEASE MEET ME AT EXACTLY 6:15 THIS EVENING   He'd wondered about the word exactly, but realized his former boss suffered from an incurable case of obsessive behavior, which made her both a good administrator and aggravating. But he also knew she would not have contacted him if it wasn't truly important. He inserted the key card, noting and ignoring the do not disturb sign.The indicator light on the door's electronic lock switched to green and the latch released. The interior was spacious, with a king- sized bed covered in plush purple pillows. A work area was provided at an oak- top desk with an ergonomic chair. The room occupied a corner, two windows facing East 42nd Street, the other offering views west toward 5th Avenue. The rest of the décor was what would be expected from a high- class, Midtown Manhattan hotel.Except for two things.His gaze locked on the first: some sort of contraption, fashioned of what appeared to be aluminum struts, bolted together like an Erector Set. It stood before one of the front windows, left of the bed, facing outward. Atop the sturdy metal support sat a rectangular box, perhaps two feet by three, it too made of dull aluminum, its sides bolted together and centered on the window. More girders extended to the walls, front and back, one set on the floor, another braced a couple of feet above, seemingly anchoring the unit in place. Was this what Stephanie meant when she'd said important?A short barrel poked from the front of the box. There seemed no way to search its interior, short of unbolting the sides. Sets of gears adorned both the box and the frame. Chains ran the length of the supports, as if the whole thing was designed to move. He reached for the second anomaly.An envelope. Sealed. With his name on it.He glanced at his watch. 6:17 pm.Where was Stephanie?He heard the shrill of sirens from outside. With the envelope in hand, he stepped to one of the room's windows and glanced down fourteen stories. East 42nd Street was devoid of cars. Traffic had been cordoned off. He'd noticed the police outside when he'd arrived a few minutes ago. Something was happening.He knew the reputation of Cipriani across the street. He'd been inside before and recalled its marble columns, inlaid floors, and crystal chandeliers a former bank, built in Italian Renaissance style, leased out for elite social gatherings. Just such an event seemed to be happening this evening, important enough to stop traffic, clear the sidewalks, and command the presence of half a dozen of New York City's finest, who stood before the elegant entrance. Two police cars approached from the west, lights flashing, followed by an oversized black Cadillac DTS. Another New York City police car trailed. Two pennants rose from either side of the Cadillac's hood. One an American flag, the other the presidential standard.   Only one person rode in that car.President Danny Daniels. The motorcade wheeled to the curb before Cipriani. Doors opened. Three Secret Service agents sprang from the car, studied the surroundings, then signaled. Danny Daniels emerged, his tall, broad frame sheathed by a dark suit, white shirt, and powder- blue tie. Malone heard whirring.His gaze found the source.The contraption had come to life. Two retorts banged and the window on the other side of the room shattered, glass plunging downward to the sidewalk seventy-five feet below. Cool air rushed inside, as did the sounds of a pulsating city. Gears spun and the device telescoped through the now empty window frame. He glanced down.The window's shattering had attracted the Secret Service's attention. Heads were now angled up, toward the Grand Hyatt.   Everything happened in a matter of a few seconds. Window gone. Device out. Then—Rat- tat- tat.Shots were fired at the president of the United States. Agents smothered Daniels to the sidewalk.Malone stuffed the envelope into his pocket and raced across the room, grabbing hold of the aluminum frame, trying to dislodge the device. But it would not budge. He searched for and spotted no power cords. The thing, apparently a remote- controlled, high- powered weapon, kept firing. He saw agents trying to maneuver their charge back to the car. He knew that once Daniels was inside, armor plating would provide protection.   The device spit out more rounds. He dove out the window, balancing himself on the frame, and grabbed hold of the aluminum box. If he could yank it from side to side, or up and down, at least he could deflect its aim. He managed to force the barrel left, but motors inside quickly compensated. Below, with incoming fire momentarily deflected, agents stuffed Daniels back into the car, which wheeled away. Three men remained, along with the policemen who'd been waiting at Cipriani.Guns were drawn.His second mistake now became evident.They started firing.At him.