Book: The Jefferson Key
Author: Steve Berry
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Four presidential assassinations by four random murderers. Or maybe not. What if a clause in the Constitution gave someone or a group of someones the power to kill? Steve Berry, through his character Cotton Malone, explores this idea in his novel, THE JEFFERSON KEY. And explore he does… perhaps a little too much.
After an assassination attempt on the current president, Danny Daniels, Cotton Malone finds himself in the middle of a battle with a secret society, the Commonwealth. Now he must take to the high-seas if he ever wants to defeat these pirates and end their control once and for all. However, along the way they must break a secret cipher created by Thomas Jefferson, which will unravel a century-old mystery leading to a document powerful enough to make the Commonwealth unstoppable.
First off, if I wanted a history lesson, I would read a history book. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I like a good dose of history in my fiction, as long as it’s done right. And in this case… I think Berry missed the mark. Instead of sprinkling interesting tidbits throughout, it felt more like detailed textbook prose that no one edited. (Bonus: I work a day job in the legal field and I can totally tell that Berry was once a lawyer himself.)
As for his character Cotton Malone… I think I could take him or leave him. Maybe because this is my first Steve Berry book. Or maybe because the book focused too much on details and rambling plot lines than characterization. Whatever the reason, I didn’t feel a connection to the character or any reason to like him. In fact, I kind of found him cold and aloof. Sure there’s a female character, Cassiopeia Vitt, who I think is meant to show his softer side, but there wasn’t enough interaction between them to bring that out. And this is probably most disappointing of all because it will make me think twice about reading another book of his.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the ridiculous amounts of shoot-outs. Almost every scene that involved Cotton Malone involved bad guys with guns. Give me a break. I know you’re trying to keep it action packed, but stretch your creative mind a little.
And on a final note… when you have too many characters to keep them straight, it’s time to start killing them off.