White House Chef Mystery, Book 1
Written by Julie Hyzy
Narrated by Eileen Stevens
Audible Studios (February 11, 2014) originally published 1/1/2008
Listening Time: 8 hours, 54 minutes
Barry Award for Best Paperback Original (2009), Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original (2009)
The action starts immediately in this series debut featuring Olivia Paras, assistant chef in the White House kitchen. She is just arriving for work when a man runs across the White House lawn and right in front of her. Secret Service agents are too far away to catch him, so she whacks him with a frying pan intended to be a gift. He tells her he wants to warn the President about some danger.
Olivia’s dream job would be to become the Executive Chef, a position that will open up soon as the current man retires. Olivia, or Ollie for short, is the top candidate from the current staff. She is vying for the job against a former White House kitchen employee who now has her own TV show. Her audition is to be a taped episode of her TV show that is intended to be her last hurrah once she is appointed Executive Chef.
An international assassin known as the Chameleon appears to be in Washington, DC at the same time delegates from two large middle Eastern countries have come to negotiate a trade agreement with the help of the President. Ollie joins with her crew of chefs in the small kitchen to prepare not only the first family’s meals but also meals for invited guests. Ollie even travels to Camp David to feed royalty
Ollie is worried about the man she whacked with the frying pan, so she calls the local jail to check on him. No information is given to her, but the man calls her cell phone. He wants to arrange a meeting so he can pass on his warning. Reluctantly she agrees. Before he can say anything, he is shot by a mysterious man that Ollie can identify. They believe this is the Chameleon. And he considers Ollie a loose end.
Learning more about the inner workings of the White House was fascinating. Seeing how the chefs prepare meals every day and for many special events concurrently was quite interesting in author Julie Hyzy’s hands. Every day is different, and the staff is always aware that they are preparing meals for the most important house in the country. Ollie has to balance this against fleeing from the assassin’s efforts to eliminate her. The action throughout held an urgency that kept me listening to Eileen Steven’s narration without stopping. Her handling of the action and many different character voices was equally compelling. Plot lines crossed easily without being contrived. A very enjoyable listen that I definitely recommend. On to book two!