Series Spotlight on. . .White House Chef Mysteries by Julie Hyzy

White House, Washington, DC

photo credit: foxypar4 via photopin cc

New year, new month, new monthly theme. In honor of 2013 being a Presidential Inauguration year, January’s theme will be the White House/Washington, DC. Originally, this post was going to be about Fonduing Fathers only, but I thought I’d experiment a little sooner with doing a series spotlight.

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I’ve been following the series from the beginning. I’m not a foodie and mysteries aren’t my first love, though I do enjoy several series.  The idea of having the amateur sleuth working at the White House intrigued me.  I lived and worked in Alexandria, Virginia when the first book was released, so the locales were familiar which added to the enjoyment.

In the first book, Olivia “Ollie” Paras, is the assistant executive chef.  Her boss is on the verge of retiring.  She isn’t the only potential replacement — a popular chef with her own show is hoping to get the job.  It’s a chance at history — whoever gets the job will be the first female executive chef at the White House.

(Side note:  The current White House executive chef, Cristeta Comerford, was appointed in August 2005.  She is the first female to hold the position — almost three years before the first book came out.)

Obviously, Ollie gets the job.  She’s good at it and she knows it’s a great honor (and huge responsibility).  She’s not one to brag or abuse her position.  She’s just got a bad habit of getting involved in things best left to the Secret Service.  Ollie means well, but it has consequences.  That’s one of the things about the series that I really appreciate.  There are consequences.  One relationship has already ended because of her actions and she’s had to deal with others’ perceptions of her.  She’s gained a reputation and it could become a hindrance if she’s not careful. Ollie is coming to understand this and has made efforts to stay uninvolved.  In the previous two books — Buffalo West Wing and Affairs of Steak — she’s drawn into the mysteries as a result of other people’s actions.

The White House Chef series is one of my favorites.  I look forward to each new release and reading them has become a January tradition.

Links are to my reviews.

State of the Onion (Julie Hyzy)

Title: State of the Onion
Published: 2008
From the Back: Never let them see you sweat — that’s White House Assistant Chef Olivia Paras’s motto, which is pretty hard to honor in the most important kitchen in the world. She’s hell-bent on earning her dream job, Executive Chef. There’s just one thing: her nemesis is vying for it, too. Well, that and the fact that an elusive assassin wants to see her fry…

The highly-trained Secret Service agents couldn’t do it. Snipers swarming the White House grounds were no help. Only Ollie Paras was able to stop the intruder-hitting him with a frying pan. She’d like to wash her hands of the whole thing, but after she witnesses a murder, there’s no going back…

Ollie’s Secret Service boyfriend warns her that the killer is a world-class assassin. And Ollie’s the only person alive who can recognize him. Still, guilt propels her to investigate, even if it means putting herself — and her relationship-in hot water…

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Hail to the Chef (Julie Hyzy)

Title: Hail to the Chef
Published: 2008
From the author’s website: White House executive Chef Ollie Paras has a lot on her plate, what with holiday meals to map out, the First Lady’s matchmaking plans to deflect, safety classes to take, and terrorist plots to avoid. Oh, and a senator’s assistant has been begging Ollie to rig the countrywide gingerbread-man-decorating contest in favor of the senator’s kids …

Then a cautious, kindly electrician is electrocuted, and the First Lady’s nephew doesn’t show up for an important event when not twenty-four hours before he was happily cleaning shrimp with Ollie. Ollie suspects there’s something going on that’s fishier than shrimp cocktail. Now, she’ll have to watch her back — and find a killer unlikely to be pardoned …

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Eggsecutive Orders

Title: Eggsecutive Orders
Published: 2010
From the author’s website: Ollie’s mom and grandmother have flown out to D.C. for the annual Easter Egg Roll and a personal tour of the White House. But plans are scrambled when executive chef Ollie is banished from the kitchen after one of the president’s guests dies at the dinner table. Who killed Carl Minkus? Ollie is at odds with her Secret Service boyfriend, Tom, who has been charged with making sure his intrepid girlfriend keeps her nose out of official business this time. But Ollie is determined to restore her reputation. Will proving her innocence mean the end of a relationship with Tom?

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Buffalo West Wing

Title: Buffalo West Wing
Published: 2011
From the author’s website: With a new First Family, White House executive chef Olivia Paras can’t afford to make any mistakes. But when a box of take-out chicken mysteriously shows up for the First Kids, she soon finds herself in a “no-wing” situation. After Olivia refuses to serve the chicken, the First Lady gives her the cold shoulder. But when it turns out to be poisoned poultry, Olivia realizes the kids are true targets.

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Affairs of Steak

Title: Affairs of Steak
Published: 2012
From the Back: Assigned to work with her arch nemesis, Peter Everett Sargeant, the White House Sensitivity Director, Ollie must find a venue for an event to honor the Secretary of State. Instead they find one of the First Lady’s assistants and the Chief of Staff, both murdered — and Ollie and Peter may have witnessed the killer making his getaway. News reports suggest that the assistant and Chief of Staff were having an affair, but no one on the staff believes the rumor. Now, with their jobs–and their lives–in jeopardy, Ollie and Peter must depend on each other to learn who killed their colleagues and why–before they become the next victims of a merciless assassin with a secret agenda…

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Fonduing Fathers (Julie Hyzy)

Title: Fonduing Fathers
Published: 31 December 2012
From the Back: Olivia has always believed that her father was an honorable man—until a trip to visit her mother reveals that he was dishonorably discharged from the army. Olivia is even more shocked to learn that he was brutally murdered because someone at his company suspected him of selling corporate secrets. Refusing to believe that her father was a scoundrel, Olivia won’t rest until she proves his innocence.

Enlisting the help of her boyfriend, Gav, Olivia must reach out to her father’s colleagues to discover the truth behind his murder. What she’s about to discover may not only put her at risk, but threaten national security as well…

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Inspired by the many weekly memes about books.

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