Blanche on the Lam
Award-winning author Barbara Neely presents the first in a series of novels featuring Blanche White, bla ck domestic worker extraordinaire and accidental sleuth. '
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4 authors picked Blanche on the Lam as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
I get a kick out of a story that presents a main character who doesn’t fit the expected norms of a hero or heroine. A feisty, middle-aged African-American housekeeper/cook is not your typical amateur sleuth. When her checks bounce because her rich employer fails to pay her, Blanche goes on the lam. Hiding as a maid for a wealthy family, things look bleak when a murder occurs in the home. Blanche calls on her savvy and wit to discover the truth. As the story unfolds, the author uses humor and biting sentences to present a glimpse into the foibles of…
I did not discover the Blanche White series until recently, but Blanche debuted the same year as my Anna Peters and both were among the very early working-class women sleuths. A Black cook-housekeeper in the South, the intelligent, skeptical, and responsible Blanche has an inside look at the doings of a wealthy and troubled household. But with some legal troubles of her own, she cannot ring up some convenient police professional when she suspects a dangerous fraud. Blanche makes do with her own network of domestics, chauffeurs, and gardeners in the Black community, a resource that proves surprisingly useful.
This is the first in a series of mystery novels featuring the character of Blanche White, a Black domestic worker approaching middle age who is required by circumstance to investigate and solve crimes, usually murders. Blanche is a natural successor to Childress’s Mildred, making clear from the outset that she is nobody’s mammy. “Blanche was unimpressed by the tears, and [her employer] Grace’s Mammy-save-me eyes. … She never ceased to be amazed at how many white people longed for Aunt Jemima.”
Three books follow: Blanche Among the Talented Tenth, Blanche Cleans Up, and Blanche Passes Go. More than just well-crafted,…
Blanche White is one of the most unusual amateur sleuths you'll ever meet: she's a fiercely independent, heavy-set Black maid who makes no apologies for who she is or what she does. Working in a wealthy Southern home where secrets and arrogance collide, she sees her employees and the privileged world they inhabit with keen eyes and a wicked tongue. Wise, compassionate, and indefatigable, while at the same time keeping a low profile, Blanche solves a murder and offers up commentary about money, power, and race relations that blends beautifully with the mystery at the heart of this novel. Given…
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