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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Where is Saardisca?

All the President's Menus (A White House Chef Mystery, #8)All the President's Menus by Julie Hyzy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Olivia Paras' story continues with the White House Executive Chef running the kitchen with only Bucky as assistant and Marcel continuing to create his sugary confections in the pastry kitchen. The country is in the midst of a sequester so Cyan is on unpaid leave and is thinking of leaving the White House staff, much to Ollie's dismay. Ollie and Gav are now married so there are many marital conversations about government doings with Gav's return to duty with the Secret Service.

This latest adventure finds President Hayden entertaining the female candidate for the Presidency of Saardisca, a fictional country in which female leadership is unheard of and where dssidents to the government, are harshly handled. Coinciding with the visit the White House kitchen is hosting four Saardiscan chefs anxious to learn the secrets of organizing and presenting State dinners efficiently. Despite her directives to speak only English while in the kitchen these men frequently revert to their own language.

Two fainting bouts by Marcel and the death of the leading Saardiscan chef begin to make the hairs on Ollie's neck rise and soon, despite her best efforts, she is embroiled in an international mystery. Are these events merely the results of natural causes or is something else afoot--well,this is Ollie Paras about whom we speak. What do you think?

In the meantime, Gav has the opportunity to leave the Secret Service and take over the operation of a winery currently being run by the parents of his first fiancé who was murdered before they could wed. Though no decision has been made other than to consider it for some
future time, the introduction of the possibility creates flexibility to the author should mysteries at the White House dry up.

If there was a weakness in this episode it was the fact that Saardisca is a fictional country--making it more a distraction than an exotic twist.

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