Tart of Darkness By Denise Swanson: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post/Recipe

Mar 24, 2018 | 2018 Articles, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy
& Denise Swanson

In honor of Easter, we are featuring a lot of food mysteries this week-including Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson. We also have a fun Easter guest post from Denise which includes an Easter recipe! Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Tart of Darkness, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.

Tart of Darkness: Chef-to-Go Mystery By Denise Swanson
Review by Sandra Murphy

After a scandal at work, as the HR person, Dani had to fire an entire department. It was time for a change after that, including a breakup with her boyfriend, Justin.

Good fortune has come her way though. She’s inherited a mansion and started a business called Chef-to-Go. Since she lives in a college town, she’s got a built-in clientele with the students for daily lunches. Catering and working as a personal chef for wealthy families adds to her income.

bookThree college students are her boarders/live-in help. A trust-fund-baby student hires Dani to cater her annual party. With her parents away, it soon becomes a drunken brawl. When the girl’s body is found the next day, she’s surrounded by desserts Dani made. The police declare it murder, and the lead detective has only one suspect in mind—Dani. If the case isn’t solved soon, Dani could be arrested or lose her business dues to rumors that her food was the cause of death.

This is a crossover of sorts with the Scumble River series Swanson writes. Frannie, a budding journalist, and Spencer, the hot undercover agent, were first met in Scumble River with the Sheriff Wally and his wife, Skye. Frannie and Spencer play important roles in solving this murder. Justin, Dani’s former boyfriend and total heel, is a guy you love to hate unless you’ve used up all your hatred on the police detective who’s just downright mean.

For a look into college life, follow Dani’s change from a boring HR job to entrepreneur. She explains as she cooks and hopefully, will share a few recipes. Dani’s a person you’d like to know (and would love to have cook for you). She tends to panic a bit but then the detective is after her. There’s a potential for romance with Spencer which makes Justin look so much worse when he shows up again.

This is the first in a promising new series.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She writes about eco-friendly topics, pets and wildlife for magazines and reviews mysteries and thrillers for KRL. A collection of her short stories, published by Untreed Reads, From Hay to Eternity: Ten Tales of Crime and Deception can be found at all the usual outlets. Each one is a little weird and all have a twist you won’t see coming.

Easter Dinner
By Denise Swanson

In my family, whether we celebrate with a big family gathering or an intimate meal for two, there are certain expectations for Easter dinner. Things like scalloped potatoes, corn casserole, and homemade coconut pie are essential, but the most important component of the meal is the spiral cut ham with my grandma’s special glaze.


Denise Swanson

Throughout the years a few brave family members have experimented with other glazes, but we always come back to Grandma’s lick-your-fingers Sweet and Sassy Plum Glaze. Like my grandmother on the surface it seems as sweet as can be, but there’s a bit of spice underneath.

Ingredients for use with a smoked fully-cooked, bone-in ham.

1-1/2 cup plum preserves (Grandma uses her homemade supply, but I use Smucker’s Red Plum Jam)

1-1/2 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3/4 cup orange juice

1-1/2 tablespoon honey mustard

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Mix together all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour half into a microwave-safe bowl and set aside.

Brush your ham with the remaining portion of plum preserve mixture and bake uncovered, at 350° on lower oven rack 1 hour and 30 minutes, basting with remaining plum preserve mixture every 30 minutes.

Loosely cover with aluminum foil, and bake 1 hour and 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 140°, basting every 30 minutes.

Let ham stand 15 minutes before slicing.

To enter to win a copy of Tart of Darkness, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “tart,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 31, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

New York Times bestselling author Denise Swanson lives in rural Illinois with her classical composer husband and whatever wildlife wanders into her yard. She writes the Scumble River, Devereaux’s Dime Store, and the Chef-to-Go mystery series. Denise also writes the Change of Heart and Delicious Love romances.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I have enjoyed Denise Swanson’s previous books and look forward to reading Tart of Darkness.

  2. I would love to read this book. It looks really good.

    Faithdcreech at gmail dot com

  3. I love all her books, and I’m caught up on all of them (can’t say that for many), and I’m looking forward to this new series.

  4. I love Denise’s books! Thanks for this opportunity!

  5. book sounds like a lot of fun to read, cannot wait.

  6. Both the recipe and the book sound delicious! Looking forward to reading this new, first book in a new series, her books are always so good! Thank You!

  7. This sounds like a great new cozy mystery series. I’ve read some of her books in the past not recently. I’ll need to add this one to my wish list. Thanks for the giveaway!

  8. If Denise is the author I know it’s going to be a sure winner. So sure that I’m even betting that I’ll win the giveaway. LOL

  9. I love the idea of a “Chef-to-Go” and Dani sounds like a very appealing character. Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. I’m ready for some culinary and artistic fun, please enter my name in the draw. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  11. thank you for the recipe – parkeremma2003 at yahoo dot com

  12. I’ve been a big fan of Denise’s for years. Looking forward to the new series.


  13. I love this author and all of her works. Really excited about this new title!!


  14. I love Denise’s books & am looking forward to reading this one.

  15. Love this author but haven’t read this book yet. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  16. “Tart of Darkness” sounds like a great start to a new series. Looking forward to reading.

  17. Love, love, love Swanson’s books!!!!

  18. This sounds so good that I am looking forward to reading it! Very much enjoy Scumble River and Devereaux’ Dime Store mystery series. Thank you for the chance to win!

  19. Please consider my entry too. Love the new series concept.

    karen94066 at aol dot com

  20. What a great author! Thanks for offering this chance to win!

  21. We have a winner!


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