I picked up State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy on a whim during a recent sale in Audible and am ever so glad I did! Olivia (Ollie) Paras, who works as assistant chef at the White House and is one of two finalists for executive chef, is returning from getting a special personalized skillet as a farewell gift for Henry, the outgoing executive chef, when she sees an intruder being chased by the Secret Service but managing to evade them. As the man runs towards her, Ollie steps out from behind the tree where she has been hiding and hits the man with the heavy skillet, bringing him down. Ollie is startled first to hear the man beg for her help because the President is in danger and then to see him address a Secret Service agent by name.
You would think that Ollie would be hailed as a heroine, but having a 5’1″ female assistant chef do what the Secret Service was unable to do does not make them look very good, so Ollie ends up on the bad side of the service, including her boyfriend Tom. When she doesn’t leave the issue alone, Tom tells her that the man was actually an American operative who has gotten intelligence that the President is in trouble and that treachery exists throughout the high levels of power. After promising to leave the issue alone, Ollie gets a phone call from the same man she took down with the skillet and agrees to meet him at the merry-go-round on The Mall, but before he can give her the information, the man is murdered, and Ollie comes face to face with the shooter.
From now on, Ollie’s life gets really complicated, as she faces attempts on her life by the world’s most notorious assassin, “The Chameleon.” In addition, she has to fight to get the new job as top chef against a woman who hates her guts and deal with the new man in charge of sensitivity in the White House who bullies Ollie and tries to take over the whole kitchen production.
Eileen Stevens reads the narration of the audio version of this book. She does a good job and helps to keep it moving well.
I highly enjoyed State of the Onion and thought it really creative. It had some interesting facts about the White House and Washington, DC, as well as about the culture of the Muslim world and diplomacy. The story moves quickly, and I liked the way it avoided even the slightest bad language or sex scenes while staying clear of the cute details of “cozy mysteries.” I love cozies, but it’s nice to read a variety of styles that are still clean. This book was a really pleasant surprise, and I give it five stars!
To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.