Megan's Reviews > State of the Onion

State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
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's review
Nov 16, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: 2-stars, crime-and-mystery, fiction
Read in October, 2010

I'm not much of a reader of cozy mysteries or amateur sleuth stories. I usually find myself thinking of the protagonist as Too Stupid To Live with their unbridled curiosity and uncute eagerness to poke their nose into clearly dangerous business; they don't tend to be the sort of people I want to spend a whole book reading about. (Why yes, I am cranky and unfun and judge-y. But I know what I like to read.) I did find myself a bit annoyed by the protagonist of this book, White House chef Ollie Paras, as well as the bafflingly obscure political "intrigue" (the plot: a big mess that required Ollie to do careless or stupid things and to ignore obvious signs!) and the cartoonish chief irritant, the new White House sensitivity director. (I mean, really. Nearly the first thing out of his mouth is his opinion that he thinks Ollie is too short to be an effective worker in the White House kitchen. I know, the fact that he's actually insensitive is probably supposed to be part of the joke, but it just undercut my already shaky belief in the book that this guy would actually be hired.)

However. I love books going behind the scenes of daily life in politics and government, particularly D.C., and State of the Onion didn't disappoint. I really enjoyed when the book focused on Ollie's job as chef and on the dynamics of the entire White House kitchen team (and the rest of the staff). Hyzy filled those parts of the book with believable, interesting details (and she provides recipes!), and there were so many aspects of hosting state dinners that I would have never considered but that I've now thought about. Despite Ollie's curiosity and meddling and risk taking, I still admired a lot of her inner strength and the reasonableness she displayed in the course of doing her job.

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