Steve Berry's THE JEFFERSON KEY

I love that Steve Berry mixes history in with his Cotton Malone thriller series. In The Jefferson Key, he explores the idea that the four American presidential assassinations and the other attempts were related. This one has a lot of car chases, gun fights, intrigue, and pirates.

A lot of the action takes place in and around Virginia and Washington, DC. His protagonists drive a motorcycle down the beautiful staircase at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. They shoot out the window and make their escape. They also have a battle at Monticello in Charlottesville over one of Mr. Jefferson's inventions that holds the key to a cipher.

The pirate stories take place in and around Bath, North Carolina and Ocracoke Island (Blackbeard Territory), and the characters even end up near Oak Island near Nova Scotia.

The book is fast-paced with great page-turning action. And Berry does a nice job with explaining fact from fiction at the end. Add this one to your beach bag for a fun, summer read.

FACEOFF - Edited by David Baldacci

I downloaded the International Thrill Writers' anthology, Faceoff, edited by David Baldacci. Most anthologies have some sort of theme. This one is interesting because it pairs multiple writers and their protagonists in each story. It also introduced me to several new-to-me authors, and I look forward to reading their novels.

My favorites included Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly's "Red Eye," set in Boston. Both characters are looking for the same kidnapper. One is because of a recent abduction, and the other is chasing a lead from a cold case in California. Steve Martini and Linda Fairstein's characters meet at a lawyers' conference in "Surfing the Panther." I also liked the twist in Heather Graham and F. Paul Wilson's "Infernal Night," set in New Orleans. "Pit Stop" by Raymond Khoury and Linwood Barclay encapsulates an action-packed car-jacking in the limited space of a short story. I also liked "Good and Valuable Consideration" by Lee Child and Joseph Finder. Jack Reacher stories are always a great read.

And the beauty of a short story anthology is that if you don't like a particular story, you can always move on to the next one. There is something in Faceoff for all tastes.