Buffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy

Julie’s fourth entry in her White House Chef Mystery series is her best book to date. With a new administration taking office, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes in the Executive Mansion, and a box of buffalo wings intended for the incoming president’s young children is left in the kitchen. While the box is from a reputable restaurant, Executive Chef Ollie Paras knows that nothing is to be consumed unless it is known how it got to the White House. Ollie’s decision makes the children unhappy, the First Lady unhappy and even members of the staff unhappy. Ollie puts the wings away, but one of her assistant chefs retrieves the box and gives it to the laundry women and two of the butlers. They later become deathly ill and are rushed to a nearby hospital. The hospital comes under siege almost immediately and the White House patients are taken hostage.  The terrorist group wants their leader set free from a Wisconsin prison.

The poisoned wings were clearly meant for the President’s children, but the Secret Service wants it kept quiet while they investigate who the traitor is among the White House staff. This means that the First Lady, still unhappy with Ollie, has no idea that her children would have been the hostages had it not been for Ollie’s decision to follow protocol. Ollie must also wrestle with a troublesome personal chef the First Lady has brought in to prepare the family meals. The man happens to want Ollie’s job. Toss in the stress of new Secret Service agents haunting the kitchen, a strained relationship with her ex-boyfriend, a potential new love interest, and an upcoming state dinner for officials from the country that spawned the terrorists, and Ollie is once again over her head when trouble finds her on the front lines of protecting the First Family.

The thing I loved most about this book was how skillfully Hyzy weaves all these elements into the story. We know some of them will turn out to be red herrings in terms of who the insider traitor is, but all of these elements are important to Ollie and therefore important to us. It’s a fun read that never loses its momentum, has lots of good twists, and reaches a satisfying conclusion where Ollie once again feeds the First Family and saves the world. Don’t miss getting hooked on this series and especially don’t miss out on this book.

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