Wednesday, January 30, 2008

State Of The Onion - Julie Hyzy

State Of The Onion
White House Chef Mystery
Julie Hyzy
Berkley Prime Crime


Olivia (Ollie) Paras is working in her dream job as White House Assistant Chef. In a couple of weeks, Henry, the Executive Chef will retire, and his successor chosen. Ollie has high hopes for that promotion, but will have to beat out a TV chef for the position. At the moment, though, she’s just re-entering the White House grounds with a farewell gift for Henry – a silver, engraved frying pan – when she sees a man fleeing across the lawn, chased by Secret Service agents. The running man has outdistanced the Secret Service and is headed right at Ollie. Without thinking, she brains him with the frying pan.

To her shock, one of the first Secret Service agents to arrive addresses the man by name, Naveen. Clearly, they know one another, although he denies it later. Naveen claims that he’s trying to warn the President about some danger. But how would Naveen know that the President returned to the White House unexpectedly the previous night? More disturbing, watching the news that night, Ollie realizes that the amateur videotape of the incident from an “undisclosed source” is not the real thing. The Secret Service, including her own boyfriend, tells her to drop it, but Ollie knows that something is wrong. When she sees Naveen murdered days later, she knows she’s right.

This is the first in what promises to be a unique and exciting series. Ollie is a great character. She’s an intelligent woman who is dedicated to her job and the idea of doing the right thing. The White House setting naturally lends itself to all kinds of intrigue, and the cast of characters is potentially vast. The characters we meet in this installment, from the kitchen to the President, are all complex and realistic. There’s plenty of action for fans of mysteries and thrillers. For the foodies, there’s an entire Presidential Menu presented at the end, complete with recipes. STATE OF THE ONION provides an exciting blend of genres, seasoned with a great lead character, and served up in an expert manner, leaving the reader hungry for more.

Rating: 8
January 2008
ISBN# 978-0-425-21869-3 (paperback)


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