The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry Reviewed by Allen Hott From deep in American history to the present day in Washington, there is one constant. Strangely enough that constant is not a part of our government but is actually an arm of the government that was created by our Founding Fathers. The group called the Commonwealth was in fact given a Letterof Marque by George Washington. The letter that is granted in perpetuity to anyand all heirs does in fact give the Commonwealth the license and authority “tosubdue, seize, and take all property and wealth of any and all enemies of theUnited States of America.” At the time it was given it did in fact make the grouppirates! For doing these acts the Commonwealth was to be paid twenty percentof the value of the seizures. And to this day the descendants of the four originalcaptains are in fact still endowed with this privilege. That is the basis for thefictional The Jefferson Key!Making the matter worse during his presidency Andrew Jackson had torn thepages authorizing the letter of Marque from the House and Senate journals. Hehid them and used a code developed by Thomas Jefferson to describe wherethey were hidden. Jackson wanted the Commonwealth disbanded. Without thedocuments, the Commonwealth could not exist legally but the government alsocould not rebuke the authorization. Not surprising they did exist on the sly.Rather than acts of piracy they gave assistance in establishing governmentsaround the world who favor the United States but doing it secretly so the U.S.wasn’t involved. Or perhaps taking out someone unfriendly to the United Stateswithout having a war start or the U.S. blamed.And now in today’s world few in Washington acknowledge the Commonwealthand recently two of their four leaders have been notified that they are targets of
federal criminal investigations relating to among other things offshore moneydeposits upon which no taxes have been paid.While the Commonwealth tries to get the missing documents the many, manyagencies involved in governing the U.S. are battling to avoid extinction. Theincumbent President is about to go out of office and he is on record as todownsizing the government. (Hooray!) Thus all agencies want theCommonwealth either on their side or out of the picture all together.Cotton Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt, a former Justice Department operative andhis companion, are called to supposedly help the head of the Magellan Billet.Once those two arrive in New York it seems that everything explodes betweenseveral feuding agencies and the leaders of the Commonwealth.Not only is there trouble in North Carolina where the Commonwealth isheadquartered but also there is much havoc in Canada where the codedmessage in the Jefferson Key has seemingly finally been solved.Many, many, plots and subplots with twists and turns that continue to spur thereader on to figure out how all of this will end. Steve Berry has put together aninteresting tale that points more fingers at our government and its never-ending growth.