In State of the Onion, Ollie Paras, the White House's Assistant Chef, hits an intruder with a frying pan. She did what the Secret Service couldn't - stop him in his tracks. There's something unusual about this guy, though, and later when he contacts her to meet up with him, she can't resist. What she doesn't realize is that this one act could jeopardize her relationship with her Secret Service boyfriend and put her in a lot of danger.
This is the first book in the White House Chef Mystery series and the second one I've read from the series. It always amazes me when I pick up one of Julie's books. I've read enough of them now that I know I'm going to like it, but it still surprises me that I love it so much. This book is very well written with a well thought out plot and believable characters. I found it interesting and inviting from the first few pages.
One of my favourite characters is Ollie. She isn't the type of amateur sleuth who ignores her job to go snooping around to solve the mystery. No, she takes her job very seriously and does it exceptionally well. It's just that the mystery and clues to solve it just seems to come to her. Well, sometimes she does a little digging, but not to the point where she does everything but her job.
I like the White House setting very much. Even though it's fictional, it's still interesting to read about the inner workings of it, especially the kitchen and its staff.
I love it when authors include recipes in their books, especially when food figures prominently in the story. Julie has included several in this one. I love that they are simple enough to make in an ordinary home kitchen. My mouth was watering over the discussion on Brussels Sprouts and goat cheese. So much so that I immediately turned to the back of the book to see if that recipe had been included. Darn, no such luck. Nevertheless, I'm going to try a few of the one that were included, like Garlic Mashed Potatoes and maybe the Baklava Stuffed with Almonds, Pecans and Pine Nuts for dessert. Yum.
Julie also writes another series, Manor House Mystery series. It, too, is tons of fun and exceptional as far as cozy mysteries go. So far I've read two books in that series. For reviews, please see the Review By Author page on this blog. I'd recommend them all.
For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Penguin's website.
For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Julie Hyzy's website or her blog.
State of the Onion by Juile Hyzy, The Berkley Publishing Group (Penguin), ©2008. ISBN 9780425218693(Mass Market), 325p (includes recipes).