Title: Tart of Darkness
Author: Denise Swanson
Series: Chef-to-Go Mysteries #1
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Pages: 354
Book Source: Paperback

“Right when Dani thinks she’s hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous empty mansion in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passion—cooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and catering events for the local community. To help support her new business, she opens her home to a few students, renting them rooms and becoming almost like a big sister figure in their lives.

But Dani’s sweet new life has a measure of darkness in it: when the friend of one of her boarders is murdered, Dani becomes a primary suspect! She’ll have to scramble to clear her name, solve this culinary mystery, and save her business before the killer reappears—perhaps to silence the new chef forever.” – Amazon

Kim’s Review

I am really impressed with Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson, the first book in the Chef-to-Go cozy mysteries. For an author who has been writing cozies for over 20 years, Swanson was able to keep the technology fresh and up to date, which is not always the case with authors who have been writing for years. They often seem to get stuck in an earlier era where newer technologies are not even present in their books. So kudos to Swanson!

And having Dani’s sidekicks be three college students was another stroke of genius. Dani is in that in-between age of not quite 30, but still more conservative than a 21 year old, so having some younger women in the story adds a fun and fresh perspective to the book.

Also having three different avenues of business (daily lunches to go, personal chef, and caterer) Swanson set the series up to have lots of different places and ways for future murders to occur. I’m looking forward to seeing what Swanson comes up with next.

Besides the positive points mentioned above, Swanson also has very developed characters for a first book in a series, and it was fun to see some of the characters from her Scumble River Mysteries showing up in the Chef-to-Go series. I love when authors do crossovers.

Add in delicious food and drinks, detailed descriptions of the college town, and lots of red herrings to keep the reader guessing, and you have a series that is sure to be a hit with cozy mystery readers.

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