Foreign Éclairs (A White House Chef Mystery #9), by Julie Hyzy

Eight stars

In the latest White House Chef novel, Hyzy offers an interesting spin to a common theme. Olivia Paras is enjoying life as the Executive Chef in the White House, even though things are a little busier than she might like. Down one chef and on the search for a replacement, Paras is committed to ensuring that the First Family never goes hungry or dreads mealtimes. On her way home one night, Paras is mugged, but is able to make it to safety and can offer some assistance in identifying her attackers. With this information, it is soon determined that these were henchmen working for a factions within Armustan, a small republic whose touted leader remains in a US prison after a foiled attack at the White House in a previous novel. Paras was central in overturning that plot and sending said leader to a life behind bars, leaving the mugging as a likely attempt at revenge. After learning of her ordeal and completing a mission outside of DC, Secret Service Agent Leonard ‘Gav’ Gavin returns to his wife to offer support and protection. Paras and Gav soon realise that that attack was only the beginning of the Armustanian attempts to target her. When one member of the White House Team is murdered, all eyes look to Paras to determine if she might be next. This means keeping her safe and in hiding until the threat can be neutralized. Of course, this is easier said than done, with the outspoken Chef Paras always wanting to play the Jessica Fletcher of the 21st century and be in on all the action to bring down a criminal. Hyzy takes the reader through the usual twists and turns before landing things in a high-octane sprint to the finish, at which time a major cliffhanger leaves everyone wondering how everything plans out. A great read for all those well-versed in the series.

If I had to call Hyzy anything, it would surely be my guilty pleasure author. The novels are not complex pieces of fiction, but their premise and the means by which she tackles the issues is insightful and highly entertaining. I cannot say enough about her work and how well she integrates one book to the other. While the cast of characters changes, sometimes removing favourites for new faces, the stories never get old and the drama is never too much that I want to toss a book to the side. Add to that, the insinuation of delectable treats, all of which are outlined at the end of the novel, and you have a successful series, great author, and easy to digest content. I look forward to seeing where all of this goes and how Hyzy will spin things to keep her readers happy. I am still holding out for a crossover between her two series, but that’s just my own curiosity to see how it would play out.

Kudos, Madam Hyzy on another successful novel. You have all the ingredients to create wonderful stories, which you can seemingly whip up with ease.