The first lady is throwing a birthday party for the Secretary of State to show the world that while her husband, the President, and the Secretary are from different political parties they get along very well. The problem starts when Ollie, the White House Chef, and the thorn in her side, Peter Sargeant, the White House Sensitivity Director, are assigned to work together to find a venue outside of the White House to hold the party. After a rough day of visiting different places, neither one of them agreeing on anything, they finally arrive a the last choice, Lexington Place. They are escorted to the banquet area and are waiting to meet with one of the first lady's assistants. As Ollie gets tired of waiting she decides to check out the kitchen where she finds the assistant, but she is very dead and when police arrive another body is found, that of the chief of staff.
With the assistant's death Ollie and Sargeant are assigned the job of organizing the party, but they are also going to have to work together to find a murderer. Their own lives are on the line. Did they see something they shouldn't have? Before they become the next victims they need to put their differences aside and find the killer.
A good portion of this book takes place outside of The White House so we see a little more of Ollie's personal life. She has the perfect neighbor. Everyone needs a Mrs. Wentworth next door. Ollie's love life is also evolving in a way both Mrs. Wentworth and I approve of.
The interplay between Sargeant and Ollie was unexpected, cleverly written, moving at times, as well as funny. Their relationship was taken to a new level that I really enjoyed. The total ineptness of the "interim" head usher just added to this multi-layered mystery. Ollie spent almost as much time in his office as the kitchen and she has a much higher patience level than this reader. I would have been so fired.
The entire story is superb. This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series. I look forward to each and every trip to The White House with Ollie. Julie never fails to cook up a marvelous mystery and Ollie takes us right into the middle of the fray. Be sure to add the to your new year reading lists!