Book Review — “The Jefferson Key” by Steve Berry

Steve Berry is a hardworking author, producing a thick novel every couple of years. Lots of research and effort go into each one. That is plain to see. The Jefferson Key is the second book I’ve read by Berry. It is part of a series with Berry’s dashing character Cotton Malone, this time accompanied by the outrageously beautiful (aren’t they always?) Cassiopeia Vitt.

Did you ever come across a book that wasn’t worth putting on your reading glasses? How about one that, when you are done reading it, you say, “Thank goodness that’s over”?


What this book isn’t: something interesting and historically accurate about Thomas Jefferson, nor a good read about the founding of our country. If you want either of those, look up a good biography and read The Federalist Papers. If you’re looking for good character development, or even bad character development, heck, any character development, this isn’t it. However, if you care about what the folks who rank books for the New York Times bestsellers list think, then this is it.

But I promised myself to be nice here.

Berry’s previous novel, The Emperor’s Tomb was much more interesting and much less cliché, possibly because I had not read the novels in this series that preceded it. The writing style in that book bothered me, coming across as choppy due to the quick switching between scenes, sort of like a lot of movies these days where you can hardly tell what is going on. Berry seems to apply this methodology to the extreme. I was hoping that this choppy style somehow was needed for the subject matter and plot. Sadly, he uses the same style in this latest book, too. Now, I can see that he is just stuck in a rut. Or his editor is.

Again, as with The Emperor’s Tomb, this book gives the impression that the true goal is to write something that Hollywood will want to buy, since it would need little rewriting to turn the book into a script. I wish him all the best in getting such a film deal.

As for me, I want to go back to reading something more worthwhile. Time is precious, and there is no rewind button on life.

More info on the author at:


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