In Buffalo West Wing, Olivia Paras (Ollie) is the White House chef and oversees all food preparations that take place there. A new President has just been elected and the first family is moving into their new residence while getting used to the place and procedures. All of a sudden, a box of take-out chicken wings mysteriously appears in the kitchen for the children. However, since no one knows how they got there, Ollie wisely sets them aside until she can determine their origins and if they are safe for the children to eat. Before she has a chance to do so, though, several staff members are rushed to the hospital after consuming the wings. The first family isn't told the whole story. All they know is that Ollie denied the children their treat and this doesn't exactly make her endearing. If that's not bad enough, the first family brings in another chef to cook their personal meals. Ollie fears her job is at stake, yet she tries her best be accommodating.
This is the fourth book in the "White House Chef Mystery" series. However, it is the first one I read. I absolutely loved it! It's one of the best cozy mysteries I've read in awhile. Each time I picked it up to continue reading, I felt an instant connection with the story. I loved the details about inner workings of the White House food preparations as well as the food itself. It made me hungry; all of it sounded delicious. I was also delighted by the details about the secret service. I don't know if I'd like them hanging around all the time.
I just loved Ollie. She was a strong, confident, caring woman with an important job, which she took seriously. She didn't let anyone push her around and remained polite and dignified even when facing frustrating circumstances. I guess that's imperative with a job like hers. I've read a few cozy mysteries where the female amateur detective came across as flighty, snivelling and self-centred, which I didn't like at all. I'm so glad Ollie was different from that. The supporting cast, was wonderful, especially Bucky, Cyan and Gav. Virgil, the arrogant new chef, was also a great character. Hyzy made him so easy to dislike.
I loved the yummy recipes that the author included with this mystery. I haven't made any of them yet, but I hope to try one the following soon:
Tzatziki (p. 287)
Creamed Spinach with Olive Oil and Shallots(p. 304)
Mixed Berry Cobbler (p. 305)
I've also read Grace Under Pressure by Hyzy. It was great.
Highly recommended. I have one other book from this series (State of the Onion) on my to-be-read shelf and I can't wait to read it.
For more information about this book, please visit Penguin's website.
For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Julie Hyzy's website.
Thanks to Dana Kaye from Kaye Publicity for this review copy.
Buffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy, The Berkley Publishing Group (Penguin), ©2011. ISBN 9780425239230(Mass Market), 305p (includes recipes).