State of the Onion


Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $9.99
Paperback $7.19
Kindle $7.99
Associated ISBNs 9780425218693
9781597227254 — Paperback

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 4P

This is a pretty well written and put together book. Everything is pretty straight forward with no real glaring errors.

I think its a little darker than most cozy mysteries, so it might be a little off putting for cozy readers, but because its a little darker it might appeal to more mainstream mystery readers.

Readers Annotation

She became embroiled in an assassination plot, but the heat is in the kitchen.


Olivia (Ollie) Paras is an assistant chef at the White House. A man has run passed the Secret Service to get into the White House. Ollie happens to have a frying pan as he runs past her and she decks him twice. He says he needs to warn the President. He recognizes Craig, a  Secret Service man, and Craig calls him Naveen. That night, as Ollie watches the new, they say that a different man broke into the White House. This peaks Ollie’s interest.

Ollie is in the middle of battling a daytime food show host for the job of head chef at the White House and she’s dating a Secret Service man (Tom). Ollie tries to find out if Naveen is at the D.C. jail, but he isn’t there. Tom and Craig bang on her door at four in the morning to interrogate her about it. Naveen contacts her later that day and sets up a meet at noon the next day.

Ollie meets Naveen at the Mall, but they’re meeting is cut short when a very blond man shoots Naveen. Ollie runs for it and is taken into police custody for questioning. The man who shot Naveen is the assassin the Chameleon.

Ollie’s competition (Laurel Ann) shows up early, Ollie has to deal with a state dinner, and the police all in one day. Laurel Ann manages to offend all the staff during her audition.

Ollie goes to the gun range to practice and runs into Tom after a run in with the Chameleon. Ollie visits her father’s grave at Arlington and has another close encounter with the Chameleon.

Henry and Ollie go to Camp David to make food for the negotiations. When they come back they start preparing for the big state dinner. The dinner gets moved out doors. While refreshing the refreshments at the dinner, Ollie notices a suspicious man. Figuring out that its the Chameleon, she stops him from killing the prime minister, and chases him. The Chameleon turns out to be Kasim (the prince/princess’s aide). Tom shoots him.

Ollie becomes head White House chef.


This was a pretty nice Cozy. Its a little darker, a little more serious, than most Cozy mysteries, but it works. Its got a thrilling plot and interesting characters. I found myself enjoying this book, but not overly much. I think, for me at least, this book fell in the awkward place of “not fun enough” for Cozy, and “not dark enough” for the usual mysteries I read, which left it kind of in no man’s land where I don’t know how I feel.

I think the plot was pretty good. Hyzy juggled the two plots well (the head chef competition and the assassination plot) so that neither felt neglected. The romance plot may have been a bit much though. If there were one thing that felt a little forced and underdone it was Ollie and Tom’s relationship (and associated drama).

I thought the characters were well done. Each character had their own personalities and their own motivations, and it was all pretty clear to the reader. The setting was vibrant, and like you’d expect for a White House kitchen (I guess, I’ve never thought about it before).

I think the intended audience might feel like me: “not fun enough” and “not dark enough.” Its a fine line to straddle. I think it is still an appealing Cozy-ish mystery and definitely worth reading. It had some great action scenes that may appeal to people who read more mainstream thrillers and mysteries.


Cozy Mystery, Culinary Mystery


Lemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpack

Tall Tail by Rita Mae Brown


A darker Cozy mystery. Also, White House chef mystery, definitely unique.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

What did you think of the reveal of the Chameleon?

Discuss Peter Everett Sargeant III.

Was it believable?

Author’s website

Julie Hyzy


Anthony Awards: Best Paperback Original




Why I Chose It

It sounded like a cozy mystery I would enjoy and I wanted to try another cozy mystery.

Other Information


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