Tuesday, September 28, 2010

State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy

When reading a cozy mystery series there is suspension of disbelief and then there is "so far fetched I am having trouble with my disbelief turning into laughable disdain." What can I say; I applaud Hyzy for her attempt at a novel fun locale for her series. I think writing a series about the White House chef is creative. She admits in her acknowledgements that she can't have all the details concerning the White House kitchen completely accurate because of privacy and security. That actually wasn't what bothered me overmuch.

The plot of State of the Onion revolves around Olivia Paras, the assistant chef in the White House who gets involved in a security breech involving the president. With an inability to keep out of harms way, Ollie ends up the target of an assassin's wrath because she is the one person who has seen him and can identify him. As a chef, the book of course revolves around cooking and the kitchen. There are recipes in the back. So far, typical cozy.

My frustration came from the subplot which involved two warring Middle Eastern nations who come to the United States for a joint meeting. Hyzy could not logically put Palestine and Israel into the book so instead she created two made-up nations with "very different backgrounds." That destroyed it. By definition she had to write in generalizations. Her perceptions of Middle Easterners were stereotyped and one-dimensional.

Furthermore, I found the "rah rah the President is perfect we're so patriotic it makes everyone gag" to be over the top. Obviously someone who works in the White House has a healthy respect for our government and the office of the President. But to suggest that we are the only great nation who has all the answers is overstated.

Now, other people I know liked this book a lot more than I did. I'm a harsh critic when it comes to accuracy and realism. If you want a light fun story, Hyzy's not bad. I did get invested in the climax and discovery of the bad guy. It was also the right book to have when I needed something light, fluffy, and not too deep.

1 comment:

Playing by the book said...

Hi Gwen,
I'm hoping to submit to the New Readers Carnival in October - can you let me know what the date(s) are for it so I can make sure I get down to it? Thanks
zoe (dot) toft (at) kuvik (dot) net