Title: State of the Onion & Hail to the Chef Author: Julie Hyzy
ISBN: 9780425218693 & 9780425224991
Pages: 336 & 336
Release Date: January 2 & December 2, 2008
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Rating: 4 out of 5
State of the Onion and Hail to the Chef are the first two books in the White House Chef mystery series, focusing on a chef named Olivia Paras (Ollie Paras) who works in the White House.
In State of the Onion, Ollie finds herself involved in the chase for a suspect who illegally entered the White House. Little does she know that this will lead to her complete involvement in the case, as well as make her a target for a killer. In this first installment of the White House Chef mystery series, Ollie is introduced and she is a very appealing character. Unlike many amateur sleuths, she is not overly nosy. She does want answers, and pursues them, but she doesn’t intentionally put herself or others in danger while she’s trying to figure out what’s going on. I appreciated the fact that she was smart and resourceful.
The setting of the White House Chef mystery series is also a lot of fun. The inside look at the White House kitchen is really interesting, and I loved the portrayal of Washington, DC. What’s more, Ollie lives in my part of town, so I really loved reading about things that were local to me – I feel like that is always a treat!
In Hail to the Chef, Ollie is a little older and wiser, but still has the same spark that made you love her in the first book. The nature of this mystery is very different from that in State of the Onion, reassuring the reader that these books are unique in their own right and don’t simply recycle storylines. This makes it more believable as well, because the general public knows how well guarded the White House and the President are, and Hyzy takes that into consideration when writing her books.
I really enjoyed both State of the Onion and Hail to the Chef and am looking forward to the third book in the series, Eggsecutive Orders (aren’t the titles cheesy, yet adorably creative? I love them!) This is a great cozy series that any mystery fan shouldn’t hesitate to pick up.