Savor the suspense in this taut, multi-layered mystery. In the
opening scene of STATE OF THE ONION, White House Assistant Chef
Olivia Paras stops an intruder on the White House lawn with a heavy
ceremonial frying pan. As he lies on the ground and they become
surrounded by Secret Service personnel, he insists that he was
going to warn the President, not harm him.
Is it just another crazy person? Ollie is not sure. She’s too
busy helping to prepare State dinners according to a variety of
ethnic and religious requirements. Everything from the china to
protocol is described as if readers are participating themselves in
the White House kitchen.
Ollie quickly realizes that something is not kosher about the
intruder. Details are different in the press from what she
participated in while stopping the intruder, and she is discouraged
from asking questions about it. He is referred to as the Chameleon,
an internationally infamous assassin, but she knows there is more
to the story.
Being a good shot is not enough to keep Ollie safe. Violent
incidents in a park and then a break-in at her apartment make it
clear that the Chameleon is stalking her. Her Secret Service agent
boyfriend does not want her involved, but she feels she has no
choice but to find answers.
The Head Chef is retiring, and Ollie is one of two people being
considered for the position. She has to audition for the First Lady
during the selection process, and her opposition is a famous chef
who has a long-standing rivalry with her. A new Head of Etiquette
is appointed at the White House, and he and Ollie disagree
immediately over matters of State. He makes it clear that he does
not envisionher as Head Chef.
An important peace summit with Middle Eastern royalty involves
special dinners and events, with intricate food preparation
requirements at both the White House and Camp David. This
contingent has their own staff with whom Ollie and the White House
kitchen must work to ensure that food is cooked halaal and
according to the stringent tastes of the royalty. Life in the White
House kitchen was stressful before, and with everything heightened
by these events, Ollie must not make a false move.
It becomes clear that there is a threat involving the Middle
Eastern peace summit, and if Ollie can’t figure out
what’s happening, everyone involved will be in danger. Julie
Hyzy brings White House details, cooking information, suspense,
clues and even humor all together in an exciting start to a new
series. Recipes provided at the end will satisfy hungry readers who
enjoy the descriptions of delicious and exotic State dinners.
Part police procedural, suspense novel and cooking mystery, this
series fits no exact genre. There is something for every kind of
mystery fan here.
Reviewed by Amy Alessio on January 23, 2011