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Affairs of Steak (A White House Chef Mystery) by Julie Hyzy
Cover Artist: Ben Perini
Review by Verna Suit
Berkley Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425245835
Date: 03 January 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

White House Chef Olivia (Ollie) Paras has a knack for getting into things "not her fault". True to form, when she and a colleague are innocently checking out the suitability of an off-site banquet hall kitchen for a White House party, they come upon dead bodies. The White House Chief of Staff and the Assistant to the First Lady have both been murdered and stuffed into kitchen equipment.

This 5th installment in the White House Chef series opens with an introduction to Peter Everett Sargeant, a White House 'sensitivity director' who is so insensitive and insufferable that one expects him to be the first murder victim. He isn't, though, and throughout the book he and Ollie persevere in their original assignment, while trying to avoid being killed by the murderers who think they may have seen something incriminating. Along the way, the co-workers' prickly relationship develops not into friendship, but at least mutual respect and concern. Ollie's relationship with her new romantic interest, however, is frustrated by her 24-hour Secret Service protection and also something her new guy isn't telling her.

Reading Affairs of Steak is like watching a kitchen-centered episode of West Wing. The story is exciting and entertaining and the setting profits from the moment and cache of the White House. It's fun to learn about a backstairs thing like kitchen operations in the president's mansion. Staff members' strong egos and sometimes jealousies come across, but so does their dedication to duty. It's always impressive how the kitchen staff regularly foresees needs and keeps themselves in a position to help. Plus the author has the feel of Washington down pat.

I loved this book and I love this delightful series. I think I need to hunt up and read the two installments that I've missed.

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