A woman in the shape of a monster

State of the Onion - Julie Hyzy I blazed through this book in a day and a half, and for the most part enjoyed it. Ollie is ditzy yet headstrong in the way cozy mystery heroines typically are, but her role as a White House chef adds some interest in her characterization. None of the other characters are particularly fleshed out but they serve their purpose just fine and I get the feeling their personalities will be given more depth throughout the series. Plus one for the hilariously entertaining “villains” that put Ollie’s career in jeopardy, minus one for the tiresome and weirdly sanctimonious Secret Service boyfriend.I don’t want to be the person who gripes about the nuances of cultural sensitivity in a cozy with recipes at the back, but I feel that there’s some regrettable depiction of admittedly fictional Middle Eastern countries here. Most glaring of which is a banquet scene where Ollie sees the wife of a king covered from head to toe and attended by several women. She asks who the other women are and is informed that they are the queen’s handmaidens. At this Ollie reacts with, “Handmaiden? What is this, the Middle Ages?” I know why it was done–the observation pointed to an important clue–but still. Reading that passage literally made me cringe.Read more of this review.

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