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Affairs of Steak (A White House Chef Mystery) (edition 2012)

by Julie Hyzy

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9211131,245 (4)33
Member:pandalibrarian
Title:Affairs of Steak (A White House Chef Mystery)
Authors:Julie Hyzy
Info:Berkley (2012), Edition: Original, Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:2012 Book List, Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:White House, Washington DC, chef, cooking, Mystery

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Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
not a bad little story, need to go find the first 4 and catch up on the soap part of it, though! ( )
  dragonasbreath | May 15, 2012 |
Olivia Paras, the White House Head Chef, is put into the position of working with her not-so-favorite Sensitivity Director Peter Sargeant on a project for the First Lady and their very first efforts yield 2 dead bodies. Without any preamble they are directly in the frying pan of a conspiracy that threatens not only their jobs but their lives as well.

Ollie, while thinking that she and Sargeant are not involved in anything more than discovery, realizes that she is being followed on her trip home and while alluding her stalker, she rescues an elderly man who is a bit lost. With her instincts on alert and an Secret Service escort outside of the White House, Ollie figures out the threats that are hovering over the President and his family.

The story ,characters, and writing were all so enjoyable. The story was tight, presenting clues in multiple ways, Characters that not only pushed the plot but also improved our knowledge of other characters, and the writing was clear and crisp.

Love the series, love the characters! Can't wait for the next one. ( )
  cyderry | Mar 28, 2012 |
I read Julie hyzy's Affairs of Steak for the Cozy Mystery Reading Challenge. It is the latest installment of her White House Chef Mystery Series.

The story opens with White House Executive Chef Olivia "Ollie" Paras and her nemesis, Sensitivity Director Peter Everett Sargeant walking around DC to check out possible venues for the President's lavish nirthday party for his own nemesis, the Secretary of State. Their lkast visit was to Lexington Place where they were to meet the First Lady's assistant Patty Woodruff. Lexington Place was the First Lady's favorite choice. However, Ollie and Peter could not find Patty when they arrived. Upon entering the 2nd floor kitchen they notice blood on the floor near 2 tilt skillets. Ollie opens one of them and finds Patty's body inside. Upon opening the 2nd tilt skillet she finds the body of the Chief of Staff.

While Ollie does do her best to stay out of the investigation, she can’t help let her curiosity roam and asks questions of those around her. Most people thought that the 2 deceased were having an affair but Ollie doesn't believe it.

Ollie is a great character and she grows in each installment of the series. Her 2 emloyees in the White House kitchen are quirky and provide entertainment for the reader. In this novel, the murder does not take place at the White House. Other series authors who have moved the scene of the crime from its natural setting have not written great works. However, Hyzy manages to write a compelling murder mystery. ( )
  Violette62 | Mar 16, 2012 |
Where I got the book: freebie at networking event.

This is the first book I've read of Julie Hyzy's White House Chef series, so once again I began in the middle of a series with no knowledge of any of the characters. This wasn't a problem, though, except as stated a bit later.

White House head chef Olivia Paras and a co-worker make a grisly discovery in a restaurant kitchen, and once again (for, like all mystery series heroines, she has a knack for getting involved where she shouldn't), Ollie is in trouble. Add into the mix an unexpected task, unpleasantness and rivalry among co-workers, and a couple of fragile relationships (ex- and current), bake for 277 pages in the high heat of the Presidential residence, and the result is a crisp, enjoyable mystery read.

The book started out pacy, slowed down a little bit in the middle, but then kept up the action pretty well right to the end. Hyzy is not one of those writers who strains credulity by piling up increasingly impossible situations, and she keeps all the action within plausible bounds, so there was less life-and-death drama than I am accustomed to as a regular reader of historicals. I learned quite a few things about White House protocols, which was pretty interesting, although I'm distressed to think that relationships between staff members could possibly be quite as conflict-ridden as Ollie's are. She may die of work-related stress before one of the bad guys gets her.

As I found when I read Grace Interrupted, I had a bit of trouble getting to know Ollie. This, as with Grace, could simply be because the first books of the series are more loaded with character development, leaving room for more action in the others.

Also, I wish I'd seen more food in the novel. After all, Ollie's a top chef. At least I'd have liked to have glimpsed one truly spectacular dish. There are a handful of intriguing pastry-related recipes at the end of the novel, though.

Final verdict is that I'd wholeheartedly recommend this series to mystery fans. Hyzy's a good writer, and delivers her story with clarity and directness. ( )
  JaneSteen | Mar 3, 2012 |
Olivia and the haughty Sensitivity Director, Peter Sargeant, are to meet the First Lady's assistant at a local convention venue. They are reviewing several potential sites for the Secretary of State's birthday party and will decide which location is best for the party. When Olivia and Peter arrive at the last venue, it seems they are alone. They soon find the First Lady's assistant and the Chief of Staff dead in the kitchen. Olivia attempts to restrain herself from asking questions, but one evening she is followed from the metro, which signals the killer knows who she is. She also comes to the assistance of a confused elderly man, only to find out it is the Secretary of State's father-in-law who suffers from dementia, and may have been kidnapped.

Olivia has plenty to complicate her life in this edition. First, she is forced to work with Peter Sargeant, who has always been unpleasant to her. Virgil is the egotistical personal chef for the First Family who is trying to undermine Olivia's authority and position. There is a new Head Usher, Doug, who is throw-in during this crisis and doesn't handle situations well. Olivia's ex-boyfriend, Tom MacKenzie, is around and repeatedly opens old wounds. Her new "almost boyfriend", SAC Gavin, is reluctant to commit to much of a relationship at all. Add to this mix Peter's black-sheep nephew who thinks he knows who the killers maybe and wants to help out - if they can get him a job at the White House. Then, as if working with Peter weren't difficult enough, Doug assigns a narcissistic protocol aide to help them plan the birthday party.

Olivia's character is a little more mature in this edition. She displays patience with difficult people when I would have told a few off. In this book the theme for Olivia is patience. She is patient with Peter, with Virgil, with Doug, with Gav, with Kyle, and even with Tom. The reader practically cheers when she does give a well-deserved lecture to one character.

The supporting cast in this edition is full of well drawn characters. Milton is a sad pathetic character, like a puppy trying to please. The reader can't help but feel a bit sad for Milton. Virgil is a nasty piece of work. I think everybody has experienced a co-worker who just wants to discredit you. That is Virgil. Virgil is just wicked enough to be believable. Kyle is the narcissistic, slick player that the song "Smooth Operator" aptly describes. This character is another that the reader will no doubt have met in real life at some point. One of my pet peeves is when the main character is harassed about sleuthing, and that is ex-boyfriend Tom's sole purpose. The Secretary of State's elderly father-in-law with dementia is bitter-sweet and portrayed with a loving touch. Mrs. Wentworth is a great neighbor. She could have been a stereotypical nosy neighbor, but instead we get a diligent one-person-neighborhood-watch who is a touch snarky.

The setting goes outside just the White House and explores a bit of the D.C. area. Prior novels have had more of the White House inner workings. This book contains less information about the food that Chef Paras is preparing than prior books, and focuses on the many activities going on. The pace was steady and kept my interest easily.

The plot had enough depth and shadows. I did not expect who the villain was, so that was a surprise. I did feel as though the initial murders were only slightly part of the story. There didn't seem to be a feeling of grief or shock in the White House. Even Olivia was only mildly affected by finding the bodies.

There was a good, suspenseful climax that utilized a great location coupled with realistic action. The wrap up was worthy and made me want the next book right away. Overall, another solid addition to the White House Chef series, potentially the best thus far.

Series: 5th in White House Chef Mysteries

Main Character: Chef Olivia Paras (Olie)

Obtained Through: from publisher for an honest review

Join me at my mystery book blog:
http://www.mysterysuspence.blogspot.com/ ( )
  AFHeart | Feb 20, 2012 |
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Though belated, this dedication is no less heartfelt.
For Dean and Kris
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Peter Everette Sargent and I walked east on H Street as fast as our short legs would carry us.
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Book description
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 Sargent, 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 have 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 victim of a merciless assassin with a secret agenda...
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White House chef Olivia Paras and her arch nemesis, White House Sensitivity Director Peter Everett Sargeant, must work together to solve the double murder of one of the First Lady's assistants and the Chief of Staff--before they become the next victims of a merciless assassin with a secret agenda.… (more)

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