First of all, I'd like to thank Ms. Hyzy for giving us a female protagonist who is intelligent, strong, very likable, and most of all, believable! This heroine doesn't stubbornly throw herself in harm's way over and over again because she refuses to listen to reason again and again, causing the reader to want to shake some sense into her. None of that nonsense for Assistant White House Chef Olivia âOllieâ Paras! What a breath of fresh air!
In State of the Onion, the first in a new series, Ms. Hyzy has married a culinary cozy with a spy/thriller novel - two of my favorite mystery subgenres - and she has done it well. We meet Olivia Paras, an assistant chef at the White House who is auditioning for the position of Executive Chef - a position held by Ollie's mentor and friend, Henry Cooley. As she is returning to the White House after picking up Henry's retirement gift, Ollie finds herself caught up in a foot chase between Secret Service agents and an unknown male intruder on the White House lawn. When it appears that Ollie is the only thing standing between the intruder and freedom, she comes out of hiding and wallops him with Henry's gift, an engraved skillet. After a short debriefing, Ollie is happy to leave the matter in the capable hands of her friends, agents Thomas MacKenzie and Craig Sanderson, and the rest of the Secret Service, that is, until she watches a news clip of the incident that evening.
What follows is a veritable smorgasbord of intrigue and fine dining. Ollie witnesses a murder, and to complicate matters, auditioning against her for the executive chef position is Laurel Anne Braun, a master chef with her own TV show who is well known to the White House Staff - having worked there previously as a sous-chef. To say she is a prima donna is putting it mildly, and her antics add a lot of interest and angst to the story.
Ollie's love interest, Secret Service Agent Thomas MacKenzie, is a very likable character who adds tremendously to the overall story line, and his and Ollie's relationship is fleshed out quite nicely without any resemblance whatsoever to a trashy romance novel, so no skimming necessary - thank you very much for that, Ms. Hyzy!
The book has a very satisfying ending that will sate the reader's appetite for happy endings and fair play, while leaving the reader hoping for more. I'll be anxiously awaiting the next installment of White House Chef Ollie Paras et al. Well done, Ms. Hyzy, well done.
'State of the Onion' is an excellent start to a new series. Very fast paced, lots of details about the inner working of the White House kitchen and enough diversity in characters to keep things interesting. I'm looking forward to the next one in this series!
State of the Onion is the first book in a planned new series to feature Olivia ("Ollie"), a chef in the White House kitchen. Ollie is busy juggling a possible promotion (the head chef is about to retire), a secret boyfriend (who is doublly secret because he is in the Secret Service), and her grief over missing her deceased father when she finds herself embroiled in an international assasination plot!
I enjoyed this book very much. Ollie and the other characters are enjoyable, and this book offers a good mix between humor, romance, and action.
I really liked this book! The characters were very colorful and the premise was well thought out. Ollie Paras is a chef in the White House and is in line to become the first female Executive Chef in history. But when she gets caught up as an intruder and possible assassin gets onto the White House property just as she is coming in, and ends up being the only one able to stop him...with a frying pan, her chances start to look dim. And when an assassin marks Ollie as well, her promotion is the least of her worries.
There was intrigue and mystery, a little romance, and lost of yummy sounding food.
The recipes sound wonderful and I liked the inside peek at the domestic side of White House life.
I'm looking forward to reading the author's next book!
This is one of the very best books I have read. The author proves that you can write an excellent and clean mystery/thriller. I fell in love with the characters, except Mr. Sargaent of course :). Olivia is delightful. Very fast paced - I had a hard time putting it down! Cannot wait to read the second book.
I loved the concept of this book and the details on how the White House kitchen works was fascinating. This mystery part was good and Ollie is likable and human. I did think it got a little cluttered with an assasin, boyfriend problems, the new boss and the Laurel Anne competition. It seemed like there were to many problems to keep up with. However, I read this book in 1 sitting so it must not have been to big of a problem! Looking forward to seeing how this book progresses.
All White House assistant chef Olivia Paras wants is to be appointed executive chef when the current one retires. Olivia, or Ollie as she goes by, is returning to the White House when she encounters a man running across the White House lawn with the secret service in hot pursuit. Ollie does not really want to be a heroine, but she stops the intruder with a frying pan since it is apparent to her that the intruder is going to get away. You'd think that she would be thanked for her help, but it just isn't to be. It seems that Middle East leaders are coming to the White House for a possible peace talk summit and there are factions that don't want that to happen. Ollie has no intention of sticking her nose into the intrigue, but when a person she is meeting is murdered, and she becomes a target of an assassin by the name of Chameleon, she gets sucked into it despite warnings from her Secret Service boyfriend.
Ollie must also contend with a new staffer who has taken an immediate dislike to her for an unknown reason. Then there is the other person vying for the executive chef position who is well known to the TV public. She has a better than average chance of becoming chef due to her friendship with the First Lady. All in all, this summit is proving to be very stressful professionally and personally.
I enjoyed this first book of the White House Chef Mystery Series. The plot did not drag as can sometimes happen. I liked how the main character was reluctant to become involved with any of the investigation but was pretty much thrust into it. The information about all the extreme advance preparation for any meals was eye opening, and it helped me understand why being the White House Executive Chef was such an honor and exacting job! I look forward to the next book.
I think this is a great start to a new series. Ollie is a very likable character. The D.C. and White House history was interesting as well. I thought I had it figured out about three quarters of the way through, but, boy was I wrong! I look forward to the next book in this series.
J reviewed State of the Onion (White House Chef, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed this book. It was a quick, light read. Having said that, I found the main character to be EXTREMELY annoying at the beginning of the book. But I did stick with it, and ended up liking her as the book progressed. I really liked all of her co-workers (the other chefs) and enjoyed the plots. I've already ordered the second book of the series and am interested in how Ollie's character develops and what she gets into next.
I usually do not like "thrillers", but I thouroughly enjoyed this, the first in a series centered around the White House and the goings on in the most important kitchen in the world. Olivia Paras, "Ollie", Assistant Chef becomes embroiled in intrigue and whose life is in danger when she encounters an intruder on the White House lawn and he gives her a cryptic plea....Is there corruption in the Secret Service at the highest level? Is the President the target of an assassin or are the Middle East guests the true targets? Add to the confusion, an unexpected State Dinner and Ollie, seeking a hard fought promotion to Executive Chef. I have already ordered the next book in the series.
I really enjoyed this first book in the White House Chef Mystery series by Julie Hyzy. It is well-written and characters are also well-developed. This is a page-turner and a great mystery to start off a series.
When the White House Assistant Chef, Olivia (Ollie) Paras, happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, she witnesses a man who jumps the White House fence and leads the Secret Service on a wild chase which ends right in front of her. The subject tells Olivia that he is trying to warn the president that he is in danger.
Ollie loves her life in the White House kitchen, but her life is now in danger, too, because she has seen the face of an internationally wanted assassin. She's hoping to become the next Executive Chef, but so is another woman who has it in for Ollie, but she just hopes she lives long enough to help prepare for the huge state dinner that is coming up very soon.
I'm glad I finally started this series as I love anything to do with the White House and how the chefs prepare for their state dinners. The M/C Ollie is likable and it's interesting how she gets herself involved in the terrorist themed mysteries surrounding the Oval Office during a Peace Treaty time.
I'm probably in the minority in that I don't like the main character, Ollie. Although I admire her drive, I'm not a fan of her personality. I did, however, find that the writing flowed well. And I enjoyed the tidbits about event planning as well as the inner workings of the White House.
A cute and cozy mystery at the White House with the assistant chef, a Secret Service agent, 2 Middle Eastern (from opposing countries) dignitaries and a chameleon assassin. Also includes some yummy recipes!