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Publisher's Summary

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 Department operative Cotton Malone in his latest adventure. When a bold assassination attempt is made against President Danny Daniels in the heart of Manhattan, Malone risks his life to foil the killing—only to find himself at dangerous odds with the Commonwealth, a secret society of pirates first assembled during the American Revolution. In their most perilous exploit yet, Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt race across the nation and take to the high seas. Along the way they break a secret cipher originally possessed by Thomas Jefferson, unravel a mystery concocted by Andrew Jackson, and unearth a centuries-old document forged by the Founding Fathers themselves, one powerful enough - thanks to that clause in the Constitution - to make the Commonwealth unstoppable.

©2011 Steve Berry (P)2011 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“One of the most spellbinding and ingenious openings in all of thrillerdom. The cast of characters is huge but every one of them is memorable. The action is intense and masterfully choreographed. As always with Steve Berry, you’re educated about significant things while your knuckles are turning white and the pages are flying. Easily Cotton Malone’s most epic, swashbuckling adventure.” (David Baldacci)
"The Constitution. . . secret codes . . . loads of history. . . AND pirates! What else does anyone need? The Jefferson Key won't just haunt your nights - it'll haunt your life. Cotton Malone is coming back to the scariest place of all: Home." (Brad Meltzer)
"The Jefferson Key starts with a bang and holds the reader in its grip until the last page. Fascinating American history, up-to-the-minute politics, pulse-pounding action. This is a story Mitch Rapp would love." (Vince Flynn)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Eric
  • MALIBU, CA, United States
  • 05-25-11

Great listen; great narration, worth the credit

this was my first cotton malone story. I have listened to a number of scott brick narrations, jack reacher, harry bosch, and pedergast thrillers. i think this is the best brick - mostly because his voice does not get in the way. if you know scott brick's melodramatic style, you know he has a great voice, but it does get in the way too often. the story is very clever, has lots of sharp turns on a dime, and the style of back and forth between the story threads worked well. i am glad for the person who could tell what was coming next... but i am quite confident that is not the case. if you are predicting cotton malone survives, that might be a safe bet since the series revolves around him, but the ins and outs that make the story - nope - too many twists and turns. a great listen.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Scott Brick deserves the commission...

Being an audio-book veteran, I appreciate the production value required to make a story a "good-listen". Some of the winning qualities of a good production include a narrator that conveys emotion, posses good speaking habits, understandable transitions and clear audio quality. Scott Brick did very well as always performing the story, although transitions between characters were done very poorly. This I think is due to the writing style of the author.

This story commit's many mistakes not expected of a veteran author. Several of the characters have similar names and are difficult to keep track of. Use of distances and measures inconsistently varies between metric and american standard (with no apparent pattern for the reason). The morals of the characters are inconsistent and are not developed logically.

I was disappointed with this book and couldn't wait for it to end. The only saving grace was the quality performance of Scott Brick, who should earn the commission on this book. He was the only reason I gave this book a chance.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jimmy
  • Lubbock, TX, United States
  • 05-28-11

Wow, what a great story

Warning! Do no get this book unless you can afford to get locked into a story that you can't walk away from. The scenes change rapidly through a plot of intrigue. This is super storytelling with just enough history (and some of it true) to make the story spellbinding.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dave
  • Stillwater Lake, NS, Canada
  • 05-26-11

hardly worth the money

Why did I come back to Steve Berry? One dimensional characters, boring story line and so-so narration.
This book goes no where

18 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • FPN7
  • PORTLAND, OR, United States
  • 05-29-11

Cotton & Cassiopeia come to America

The Jefferson Key is the eleventh (I think) Steve berry novel that I have read, and despite its "Continental locale", it is one of his best efforts.
I normally enjoy Berry's superior research that will introduce me to a new and interesting place or "time & place". I especially appreciated the author's notes, read at the end of the audiobook. These notes serve to distinguish 'historical fact' from 'author's fiction'.
I was literally stuck to my seat, in anticipation of the finale-- as I was caught listening to the few chapters in my car, and I sat in my car (in my garage for the 30 minutes), rather than interrupt the rescue of Cassiopeia. The author does a n excellent job constructing a villain that was dastardly in thought & deed, though quite believable. Scott Brick provides an excellent narration-as always. (Brick is one of my two favorite narrators).
If you enjoy the Cotton Malone-Cassiopeia Vitt characters, you will enjoy this audiobook. You may even discover some interesting history concerning the 'Founding & Political History' of our country(USA), -I did. I enjoyed it. {4.25/5 stars}.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Armand
  • Glenville, NC, United States
  • 05-27-11


I made the mistake of buying this audible book early on because it was on the "most downloaded" list and needed a book for my travel. This was before their were any audible customer reviews. Something I never do and learned a lesson! The book was terrible and had I read the reviews that now exist I would never have purchased it. The comments about how the author kept flipping from one scene to another constantly made it incoherent and the plot so disjointed it became impossible to follow.. I agree the Scott Brick did a great job and one of the reasons I purchased it....however the plot was so discombobulated ...even with his great reading ability...I couldn't finish it.

19 of 24 people found this review helpful

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This is my first time to write a review of an audio-book. I listen to three or four books a month and this one was one of the worst. I was very disappointed in both the story and the narration. I felt the story was difficult to follow and the dialogue was so banal. Brick's narration almost seemed to emphasize the banality. The narration lacked the energy one would find in Dick Hill's Jack Reacher. I like Brick's work with the Mitch Rapp series but this was awful.
I did appreciate the historical effort Berry made and I liked the endnotes the best.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • kelly
  • la jolla, CA, United States
  • 09-08-11

25 pounds of groceries in a 1 pound bag - bad

This book is confusing, there are too many characters that require more development. The level of character development is weak and there are too many to keep track of. The plot is loosely based in American History which even the author acknowledges he has taken several liberties. The liberties are far fetched and are cheesy. This book is bad.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I am a students of history - Presidential assassinations intrigue me and a good thriller helps make a long ride go quicker. On a recent trip to Florida from Virginia I downloaded The Jefferson Key expected to be thoroughly entertained. However, this is one of the most contrived novels I have ever experienced. Each time there was an apparent resolution of a problem a - not simply unexpected - but totally unrealistic event would occur. Someone once wrote that fiction is more difficult to write than non-fiction, since works of fiction need to make sense. This book does not.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Too Much Literary License?

With apologies to the author - I know you wroked hard on this and all your novels, this one is just too far fetched. I found myself shaking my head numerous times over the books premise, the incredible luck the main characters have in finding extra ammunition, clothes, food, etc and the travelling from Nova Scotia to the Carolina's and back, as if they were going to lunch. The whole thing was just too much. Sorry, could not make the book believable. I was actually glad when it was over --

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Salter
  • 06-11-15

Berry at his best again!

Superb from Berry once more. Gripping story spanning the USA and Canada. Historical fact laced with '007-like' action and gripping intrigue.
Can't wait to continue my way through Steve Berry's books, and already know that I'll be returning to this one again one day :)

2 of 3 people found this review helpful