State of the Onion
Berkley, Jan 2008, $7.99, 736 pp.
Assistant chef Olivia Paras works at the White House under the outgoing executive chef Henry Coley who has fed five administrations. Olivia hopes to succeed him and is on her way back to the kitchen with a going away gift for Henry a man Naveen is spotted running away from the Secret Service. Olivia bangs him over the head with a frying pan and she thinks he is hauled off to jail. She later learns he is an agent from one of the other espionage agencies with news that the Chameleon, an assassin has a hit out either on the president or his guest.
Naveen contacts Olivia to meet him to give her the information because he believes the Secret Service is compromised. She agrees to meet him but witnesses instead a secret service operative killing the agent and later learns the culprit is Chameleon. She is the only person alive who knows what he looks like which puts her life in danger. He comes after her but she always manages to escape. The president is hosting guest from countries that been at war for years and while Olivia is getting ready the meals she starts investigating who the target of the Chameleon really is.
STATE OF THE ONION is a combination political thriller and amateur sleuth mystery. The protagonist is a strong willed woman who tries to balance her job with her romance to a Secret Service agent; she also hopes to replace Henry instead of a rival. She is also dealing with the newly appointed head of the Sultural and Faith Based Etiquette Affairs Dept who makes it plain he hopes Olivia’s rival gets the job. Julie Henry has written a delightful and mesmerizing crime caper with the added bonus of seeing the support staff who works behind the scene at the White House.