Cozy mysteries often involve repetitive elements (spunky heroines, small towns, splash of romance here and there), so to write this genre inventively takes a lot of talent. Mystery fans, take note: Julie Hyzy is a name you're going to want to remember.
The State of the Onion is a refreshing take on the culinary mystery genre. The story's heroine, Olivia Paras, works as a chef in the White House kitchen. Like all mysteries, there's a murder, but this isn't the typical whodunit. Olivia is the only witness and she knows who the killer is - a legendary assassin who has escaped capture time and time again. And unlike the typical cozy lead, Olivia doesn't set out to play detective; coincidences outside her control and her charming tendency to over-analyze keep sucking her back into the drama. She is smart, sassy, but also wonderfully believable.
The plot has more suspense and substance than your typical light mystery, and I found myself flipping pages to get to the satisfying end. While some readers may be disappointed that romance is only a minor ingredient to the tale, Hyzy makes up for it with simmering political intrigue and a fascinating look at the day-to-day lives of White House staff. For the cooking crowd, Hyzy does a lovely job of detailing elaborate State dinners, providing readers with delicious recipes at the end.
This book is a satisfying choice for mystery lovers, as well as fiction readers looking for a light, but well-written read.
Recommended by Erica Jesonis