Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 293pp)
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Julie Hyzy on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter
Books in the series: State of the Onion (2008), Hail to the Chef (2008), Eggsecutive Orders (2010), Buffalo West Wing (2011) Affairs of Steak (2012)
CoverArt: Click the picture for a larger, clearer image of the covers in this series.
Excerpt from Affairs of Steak
White House executive chef Olivia Paras just wants to create first-class cuisine for the First Family. Unfortunately, dangerous politics keep spoiling her recipes...
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 be witnessed the killer making his getaway.
News reports suggest that the assistant and the 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...
Cozy author Julie Hyzy is no stranger to the publishing business with two cozy mystery series' under her belt, the Manner of Murder Mystery series and the White House Chef series. Hyzy's latest book, Affairs of Steak is the fifth book in the White House Chef series featuring chef Olivia Paras and a wacky set of characters that populate the White House kitchens. Hyzy's trademark wit and humor are on full display in this one. Fans will be smiling all the way to the end.
This is a cozy series that I hesitated with a bit. When I started reading cozies, this series was already well established and I wasn't sure the setting - the White House - was one I would enjoy. Thankfully, I decided to to give this one a try a couple of books back and found the latest addition to the series to be one of my favorites.
Affairs of Steak is somewhat different than the previous books in the series in that it is set, for the most part, outside the White House. It gives an entirely different vibe to the novel and may take some readers out of their comfort zone with the series, but I thought it was refreshing to change things up a little bit. Hyzy shows that she can effectively write the same characters from a different perspective.
I liked the fact that readers get a more intimate look at Ollie's personal life i this book. I want a neighbor just like Mrs. Wentworth! She was an exceptional secondary characters adding a lot of humor and flavor to the book. I also enjoyed the addition of the 'temporary' head usher. He created a lot of chaos that helped move the book along and gave it some necessary tension. Not that a double murder didn't create enough tension, this was just a tension of a different sort.
I liked the pairing of Ollie and Peter together to solve this mystery. These two are not exactly friends and when they are thrown together to find a venue of a very important birthday party, it seemed like a match not made in heaven. But once the bodies start dropping, these two characters really come together and make a pretty formidable team. I loved the banter that Hyzy created between them and the overall atmosphere they give off around each other. It's kind of charged, and readers will be wondering what exactly is going on with these two. Nemesis or not?
I thought that Hyzy also changed a little bit of the way she describes Ollie's food in this one as well. Usually, she goes into great detail in her descriptions, not leaving much to the imagination, but in Affairs of Steak she holds off a bit. I think maybe she needs to find a happy balance. The detailed descriptions were maybe a bit much, but the summaries of the food in this one, not quite enough. That's my only criticism for this otherwise fantastic cozy.
If you love politics, the First Family, good food and most importantly a great mystery, this book is for you! The double murder was cleverly plotted and there were suspects a plenty. The motives were believable and readers will not only get a look into the White House, but also into Ollie's life outside of her place of business. This was a great addition to the series and fans will appreciate the social dynamics Hyzy is so good at portraying in her characters. This one's a keeper!
Affairs of Steak is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Anthony and Barry award-winning author Julie Hyzy writes both the White House Chef Mysteries and the Manor House Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. As a native Chicagoan, she thoroughly enjoys researching her books, especially when traveling to exciting new places is involved.
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy.
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