Sunday, May 19, 2019

Have You Heard? Julie Hyzy's Hail to the Chef

Because I'm on my way home today from a quick out-of-town trip, Sandie Herron stepped in with a Have You Heard? post. She reviews the audiobook, but, of course, you can always pick up the book itself. Today, she's reviewing Julie Hyzy's Hail to the Chef.

Hail to the Chef                                                                              
White House Chef Mystery, Book 2
Written by Julie Hyzy
Narrated by Eileen Stevens
Unabridged Audiobook
Audible Studios (February 11, 2014)
Listening Length:  9 hours, 2 minutes

Thanksgiving is only days away.  Executive Chef Olivia Paras is meeting with the First Lady when a Secret Service agent abruptly escorts them into the bunker along with the First Lady’s nephew Sean.  Ollie concocts a delicious lunch for the three from rations and freeze dried food. Hours later they rejoin others in the White House and learn it was a faux bomb that set off the alarm.

Returning to the kitchen, Ollie resumed working with her staff only to see lights flash and hear a scream.  She rushes toward the sound and finds the head electrician electrocuted. Ollie does what she can until the medical staff arrives.  No one seems to know why this happened.

Ollie is working late when the First Lady calls her to prepare an informal dinner for three.  Co-owners of a medical research facility with the First Lady are trying to coerce her into selling it.  A heated discussion over dinner ensues with Ollie privy to all of it. She knew from her time in the bunker that the First Lady’s nephew Sean is against the sale, as is the First Lady, but pressure from others is mounting.  Ollie is as shocked as others when a Secret Service agent appears in the room with bad news. Sean is dead, possibly by suicide.

Teaching everyone on staff about explosives and how to spot them is difficult to squeeze into the holiday schedule.  After working late one night Ollie is walking to her apartment from the Metro when she is attacked by two men. Showing up to work the next day with bandaged hands, she cannot prepare food so gets Christmas decorations out of storage.  When she puts the empty boxes back, she notices a box out of place. Inside she discovers an incendiary device and evacuates everyone in the area. Secret Service takes over once alerted. Ollie’s training is paying off; the bomb was live.

At this point I could not put this book down.  I listened to over half the book without a break.  I was enthralled with the action and how tension mounted, especially as the opening of the White House for all to see the decorations approached.  All of the plot lines turned out to intersect and twine around each other until an explosive conclusion. This is an excellent mystery that made sense, was substantial, realistic, and full of suspense.

Eileen Stevens did a superb job narrating.  Her style is quite clear and precise without bringing any attention to herself with deep breaths or swallowing.  Her portrayal of several distinct voices was excellent. I couldn’t believe how she could switch from narrator/Ollie to the male electricians and Secret Service agents.  The transition to the Southern drawl of the First Lady was astounding.

I very much enjoyed Hail to the Chef, and I highly recommend it.


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