When a guest dies after eating a meal in the White House, Executive Chef Olivia Paras and her staff are banned from the kitchen. The timing couldn’t be worse, as the Easter Egg Roll is just a week away. Did she miss something while preparing the state dinner? Ollie knows she and her fellow employees are thorough about allergies and eating preferences. But the press is having a field day, and no one will tell her when --- or if --- they will be able to come back.
EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS is Julie Hyzy’s third mystery featuring Ollie; the previous two installments are STATE OF THE ONION (which won an Anthony Award) and HAIL TO THE CHEF. Humorous titles aside, this smart series combines United States and White House trivia and folklore with food, suspense and even a little romantic tension between Ollie and a Secret Service agent. She and the rest of the cast are realistic, and even the mysteries are not too beyond the reach of the believable in the White House setting.
In EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS, Ollie’s mother and grandmother are in from Chicago to visit their Executive Chef and get a special tour of the White House. Ollie is just hoping she won’t be arrested. Her boyfriend, Tom, asked her to stay out of this mess and just show her family a good time, and Ollie tries to do just that. Is it her fault that she runs into the widow at Arlington? Then her mother starts dating a friend of the deceased, and soon there is no way she can avoid being involved. A newspaper column takes particular aim at her and her former sleuthing adventures, gleeful that this time she is the suspect. While some mystery series find their heroine or hero becoming self-righteous or tired from continuously outdoing official law enforcement agencies, it’s nice that Hyzy shows how Ollie’s involvement offers her some embarrassment and disgruntled co-workers.
As the days tick by, Ollie and her ousted staff try to boil eggs at their homes in case they return for the annual event while Ollie does her best to crack the case. It is soon clear that not only Ollie’s job but also her reputation and relationships will be affected by the outcome of this perplexing mystery. Each chapter brings a new surprise, including a big one in Ollie’s personal life that readers will hope may change in the next installment, which cannot come soon enough.
Reviewed by Amy Alessio on January 21, 2011