Thursday, January 05, 2012

Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy

Usually, if you want to feel as if you’re peeking behind the scenes, downstairs, in the White House, you can pick up one of Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef mysteries. In the latest one, Affairs of Steak, executive chef Olivia Paras spends very little time in the kitchen, so don’t expect as many details about cooking and the White House kitchen. But, the mystery is intriguing, and, once again, Ollie is smart enough to pick up the clues before even the Secret Service do.

Readers of earlier books in this series will find it ironic that Ollie has been paired up with the White House sensitivity director, Peter Everett Sargeant. To say the two of them don’t get along is an understatement. But, they’ve been assigned the job of finding the perfect venue for a birthday party for the Secretary of State. Naturally, even before they get to the venue, things go wrong. Sargeant’s shabby looking nephew, Milton, accosts them on the street, and while they’re trying to get away, a man hurrying by almost knocks Peter down. But, it’s what Ollie and Sargeant find at Lexington Place that causes the uproar. While touring the kitchen, Sargeant finds a trace of blood, and then Ollie finds two bodies, two bodies connected to the White House. It’s a crime scene that will tie Ollie Paras and Peter Everett Sargeant together, and keep the Secret Service hustling to keep up with Ollie.

It seems the killers know a little too much about Ollie, and she’s suspicious about a couple men she encounters on the Metro. But, it’s Milton, Sargeant’s disreputable nephew, who is convinced he saw the killers, and pushes Ollie to ask questions about a case she didn’t plan to get involved in.  As Special Agent in Charge Leonard Gavin tells Ollie he admires her because she’s “Willing to stick your neck out – sometimes quite literally – for the greater good. You’re brave, strong, upbeat.”

Some readers may feel the same way a jealous chef does about Ollie. “Everybody goes on and on about what an asset she is to the White House. Doesn’t anyone notice that she spends more time catching criminals than she does creating menus?” In this book, in particular, there’s less kitchen life than ever, except for the book in which she was exiled from the White House. If you’re reading these books for the kitchen life in the White House, this book will be disappointing. However, if you’re reading it for Ollie, “brave, strong, upbeat,” her evolving relationships, even with Peter Everett Sargeant, and an exciting mystery involving affairs of state, you won’t be disappointed. Affairs of Steak is Ollie Paras at the top of her game.

Julie Hyzy’s website is

Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy. Berkley Prime Crime, ©2012. ISBN 9780425245835 (paperback), 293p.

FTC Full Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Looking forward to reading Ollie's latest adventure! Sounds like a good one. :)

Lesa said...

It is a good one, Elizabeth. Haven't seen you around here lately. Hope you had a nice holiday.

Ricky Bush said...

Pretty unique idea for a mystery series.

Julie Hyzy said...

Thank you, Lesa! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. You're right, she's not in the kitchen as much as usual. Next book (which I just turned in) she's on vacation for a change, but comes back to the kitchen here and there. If there's a seventh book (fingers crossed) I think we'll serve up an in-house caper!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review STEAK!

Lesa said...

It's a very good idea for a mystery series, Ricky, and it has worked well.

Lesa said...

Oh, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there's a seventh book, too, Julie. Thanks!

Beth Hoffman said...

Oh ... this sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the great review, Lesa!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Beth. Wait until you see what's happening, oh, about Monday or Tuesday next week.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love the whole concept behind this series. Thanks for've triggered another book shopping trip. Don't tell my husband. :)

Lesa said...

I promise I won't tell your husband, Patricia. I doubt if he's reading my blog. (smile)

Karen C said...

Sigh. On the list.

Lesa said...

Not sorry, Karen.

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