cozy mystery · Reviews

Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dani is a young woman who has left a promising career behind because it was turning her into someone she hated. Thankfully she received an inheritance that would allow her to pursue a career that she loved. What is it you ask? Well, the title of the book is a major hint. She wanted to be able to focus on her cooking and baking so she started a “chef-to-go” business. Add to that the responsibility of overseeing 3 college girls, a catering gig, and a murder, and you have the perfect recipe for a delightful cozy mystery.

The book of course does not start off with her in a position of overseeing 3 college girls, but chaos ensues and the young women end up needing a place to stay. You see, Dani inherited a house that was being converted into a B &B before her aunt passed away and with no additional income Dani really needed to find a way to pay her bills. So when her friend showed up at her door asking to live with her she couldn’t say no…well, actually she did say no but they changed her mind. Part of the agreement for the women living with her is that they had to each work a set amount of hours for her every week. Everything was working out great until they catered an event where Dani was seen arguing with the victim. Of course that would mean that she was the prime suspect. BUT to make matters worse, the detective working the case has it out for Dani and is willing to do whatever it takes to prove she is guilty.

The only complaint I have about the book is that there was a lot of focus on the preparations of the food. I get why the author did it, but maybe less time could have been spent on that. I was please by the fact that there was a “hot uncle” that didn’t become the focus of the book. Sometimes a romance story line gets forced into a book and that thankfully didn’t happen. When it comes to a cozy I prefer the focus to be on solving the murder. I enjoyed reading how Dani slowly pieced everything together with the help of her friends and a little luck. I will admit that the truth behind what happened was a little darker than I expected but that is what made this cozy stand out for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. Yes, there were some parts that were a little cheesy but I enjoyed that. There were parts where the young women were a little whiney, but when it mattered most they were pretty solid. Not to give anything away but there was one interaction with the detective that showed just how smart these young women really were. The book did touch on some very realistic and darker themes so fair warning on that one. Would I read another book by this author? Absolutely!

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