All the President’s Menus (A White House Chef Mystery), by Julie Hyzy

Four stars (of five)

Hyzy returns to the kitchens of the White House for another Ollie Paras mystery, sure to pique the various buds of the curious reader. When a chef foursome from Saardisca arrive for a two-week learning experience, Executive Chef Paras is sure she’s bitten off more than she can chew. The president is negotiating the end to a spending freeze, in which all non-essential staff are on furlough, leaving Paras to run things on a cheesecloth budget . Faced with a collection of misogynistic sentiment from the Saardiscans, Paras must work through the issues and try to teach these four men the ins and outs of White House culinary experiences. When two chefs fall victim to food poisoning, one fatally, Paras begins sleuthing and hopes to get to the root of the issue, all while Saardisca’s first viable presidential alternative, a woman at that, is touring the US and spending time in Washington. If that were not enough, Paras’s new husband, Gav, receives some enticing news that might change the future for everyone involved. Hyzy entertains and intrigues all while keeping her series reading regulars happy as can be.

Those who have read and followed my Hyzy reviews in the past will know that I have a soft spot for her writing. While it is nothing stellar, its pace and flow makes it easy to digest. There are the odd hokey moments, but Hyzy redeems herself with attention to detail and unique ideas. Pitting most, if not all, of the story within the White House adds a certain spice to the tale that keeps the reader wondering how much is fiction and where reality might be added to the literary roux. Decadent, but not too heavy, this is the perfect novel to keep the sleuth in everyone from wilting.

Kudos, Madam Hyzy! Another successful White House Chefs novel, with just the right amount of je ne sais quoi.

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