Chef Olivia Paras has too many eggs in one basket - and is feeling like a basket case.... When NSA big shot Carl Minkus dies right after eating the dinner Olivia Paras' staff had prepared, all forks point to them. Now the Secret Service is picking apart the kitchen - and scrutinizing the staff's every move. The timing couldn't be worse with the White House Lawn Easter Egg Roll to prep for without access to a kitchen. Olivia must find the real culprit - before she cracks under pressure.
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Julie Hyzy presents her third White House kitchen series in Eggsecutive Orders, another book dealing with conspiracy at the highest levels. Olivia "Ollie" Paras gets a call one morning that the Secret Service will take her to the White House, but when she exits her apartment building, she is surrounded by hordes of press members asking if Ollie killed someone. As Ollie gets to the White House, she learns that a top NSA agent named Carl Minkus died the night before after dinner there. Thus, the kitchen is under suspicion. Getting interrogated by first the Secret Service and then the homicide police, Olivia finally is let go and told that the kitchen staff will not be allowed back into the White House until further notice. Her mother and grandmother arrive that day from Chicago for their first visit to Ollie in D.C., but this is not the way Ollie intended to spend their visit.
Ollie soon finds that she is the subject of public suspicion for the murder, especially getting skewered by a newspaper columnist in his "Liss Is More" column. Determined to get her name and those of her kitchen staff cleared, Ollie starts to ask questions. But then her Secret Service boyfriend, Tom, tells her that he has been assigned to make sure that Ollie doesn't meddle in the investigation, as she has done twice before. If he fails at this job, he will certainly lose his position on the Presidential Protection Detail. So now Ollie has to think about her every action for fear that it will become perceived as meddling and cost Tom his position. Since the pair technically are not supposed to be dating, Tom's boss has been using his relationship against him, creating further stress for Ollie.
The book continues with fascinating adventures as Ollie deals with the fall-out over the death. It takes a while for the medical examiner to figure out the cause of death, which makes it harder for the kitchen staff to get cleared. The pressure gets strong as Ollie worries about the Easter egg roll that takes place in less than a week. If they can't get into the kitchen, will they be able to get the thousands of eggs hard boiled and dyed in time? And what is up with Cap, the man who has suddenly taken up with Ollie's mother, keeping her out past midnight on their first date? Something about him doesn't feel right to Ollie.
I really enjoyed listening to this book, which contained many creative twists and details. I liked the previous two books a little better because they had more details about life at the White House than this one did. Also, there were periods when there was less detection. But anything by Julie Hyzy is incredibly strong and better writing than most cozy mystery writers. She has a gift for putting together disparate details that come together like a jigsaw puzzle. Further, she is an excellent writer in the technical details of writing and not just the plot details.
I liked the narration of Eileen Stevens in this book. She has a maturity to her voice without sounding old, which is ideal for playing the role of Ollie, the narrator of the book. She also has created some good voices for the characters, making listening to this book a very fun experience.
I really had a good time listening to Eggsecutive Orders. I have come to love Hyzy's series set at Marshfield Manor, and the White House kitchen series is almost as riveting. I appreciate the way the book has plenty of sophistication to the plot and characters while also being very clean. There is no bad language or sex, and the violence is not graphic either. I was having a rough time with my migraine while listening to this book, and it made a big difference in helping me to keep my mind off my pain. I give this book five stars.
I really enjoy this series: backstage at the White House, the running of a professional kitchen, lightweight murder mysteries. Ollie is a smart, talented professional chief who notices things. While running a busy kitchen serving food to some of the most important people in the world, she just happens to stumble onto clues that lead to the solutions to various plots and mysteries.
While I enjoy this series of books enough to overlook most of the many holes in the plot, I have lots of trouble with the holes in Ollie's character. She is so often unable to talk in stressful situations that I want to smack her! When she does speak under stress, she says the wrong things in the worst way possible. If she decides to tell someone in authority about some clue, she minimizes the important part or leaves it out entirely. Maybe I'm not all that willing to overlook plot holes after all.
But I love the narration, the stories are easy listening, not too complicated, and fun. Give them a try.