Blanche on the Lam PDF/EPUB Ï Blanche on Kindle -


Blanche on the Lam Blanche White lends a refreshing African American female twist to the mystery tradition as she turns from domestic worker to insightful if reluctant sleuth A middle aged housekeeper with a strong sense of humor Blanche becomes an unlikely yet ingenious sleuth when murder disrupts the wealthy household of her employers


10 thoughts on “Blanche on the Lam

  1. carol. carol. says:

    how I said I grew up on Christie? It took college to really open my eyes to the insight that I had read very few books by authors who were not white and from an American or British tradition It became a personal project to increase the diversity of my reading while still hanging in my favorite genres of mystery sci fi and fantasy I was scanning through my college’s small bookstore looking for my books for the semester when I saw the Penguin paperback edition of Blanche no doubt on the list for some literature class I uickly grabbed it and settled down for a read Blanche on the Lam held my attention but even than that it shares and affirms an experience seldom portrayed in literatureBlanche is an African American domestic worker recently moved to North Carolina after unsettling events in NYC She’s barely making ends meet living with her opinionated mother and taking care of her deceased sister’s two children When called into court for a bounced check nerves and claustrophobia get the best of her and she makes a run for it before she can be taken into jail for a multiple month sentence Needing someplace to stay she decides to show up at a temporary agency job she had already refused claiming to be her replacement It turns out a couple their elderly aunt and disabled cousin will be traveling to their country retreat for a week giving the normal servants a week off As she tries to mitigate the idiosyncrasies of her new employers and come up with a strategy to deal with being a fugitive she realizes her employers are acting extremely strange even for white people When an elderly black gardener shares his own concerns with Blanche she starts to fear for her safetyOnce I got past my struggle with the idea that Blanche would become a fugitive over a check cashing case I enjoyed the plot It begins like literary fiction with Blanche primarily focused on solving her current problem as well as developing a strategy for caring for herself and the children Tempted to go AWOL from her life the story is about her as much as the mystery In fact while she notes the oddness in her employer’s household she isn’t really drawn into their troubles until the black gardener is found dead Unlike many amateur sleuths Blanche is a reluctant investigator adding a realistic angle to the story“Blanche had learned long ago that signs of pleasant stupidity in household help made some employers feel comfortable as though their wallets their car keys and their ideas about themselves were all safe Putting on a dumb act was something many black people considered unacceptable but she sometimes found it a useful place to hide”Characterization is interesting and clearly a strong point of the mystery Blanche is a practical straight forward person that has realized that sometimes the best way to get along is to keep her mouth shut but she’s only able to do that for so long Despite her own relative poverty Blanche has had a wealth of experiences providing insight into human nature Neely stated in an interview that she started the Blanche story as a way to deal with writer’s block on another project and was surprised by the enthusiastic reception Blanche received As a lifelong activist she was interested in presenting “political fiction” as she wrote from the perspective of the underrepresented that of a “poor black woman a nice interview with Ms hereThere’s aspects that do make this feel like a first book Although the plotting and characterization are uite good the tone can be a bit didactic with Blanche doing a great deal of ‘telling’ through her inner voice While insightful it could have been less heavy handed done through memories or experiences During my second read I found myself far less tolerant of it; not that I minded the message but that it could have been so much meaningfully relayed through action Otherwise the writing style is sophisticated with nice variety Blanche’s observations give a nice sense of the opulent homes and the Carolina settingA number of the reviews I’ve seen mentioned that they found this book through criticism of The Help and I’d definitely encourage reading about Blanche over the moviefied version I recommend the series it if you are a mystery fan interested in broadening your reading experience


  2. Brown Girl Reading Brown Girl Reading says:

    My video review


  3. Udeni Udeni says:

    Blanche White is not exactly a fairy tale heroine like her near namesake Snow White She is a strong minded kind hearted woman who is also a housekeeper in the post racial South Blanche likes her job and is good at it One of the many joys of this detective book are the mouth watering descriptions of Blanche's superb Southern cooking My diet was sorely tempted by these sectionsWhile on the run for a minor check cashing incident Blanche ends up at a creepy Southern mansion She is surrounded by a satisfyingly dysfunctional cast of characters a frail blonde second wife a drunken matriarch a bullying womaniser a racist Sheriff and an elderly gardener who knows than he lets on It's not long before the bodies are piling up and Blanche is in fear of her lifeThis is skilful writing that seamlessly combines a pacy plot with sharp observations on racism sexism and poverty I laughed out loud in recognition of some of Blanche's strategies for dealing with these issues The whodunnit aspect is a little superficial hence only 4 stars But I've bought all the remaining Blanche books so I'm now a fully paid up Blanche White fan This is perfect light reading


  4. Lawyer Lawyer says:

    I received a copy of Blanche on the Lam A Blanche White Mystery through Netgalley offered by Brash Books in exchange for an honest reviewBlanche on the Lam Barbary Neely First Ed St Martin's Press New York New York 1992Barbara Neely Social Activist and Author born 1941 Lebanon Pennsylvania Still hoping to find an employer willing to pay for a full service domestic instead of the bunch of so called genteel Southern white women for whom she currently did day work Most of them seemed to think she ought to be delighted to swab their toilets and trash cans for a pittanceBlanche White a savvy and independent black woman finds herself in Farleigh North Carolina living with her mother and the two children she had promised her sister Valerie dying of breast cancer she would raise and see to their well being It's not an easy lifeThis is not the life Blanche had planned for herself She never intended on marrying Children weren't in the picture A practical woman she knew her services as a full time domestic were valuable Up north in New York she had earned a good living But that was before her sister died and she made a promise she was committed to keepAbout Farleigh North Carolina I didn't find it on the North Carolina map Perhaps Ms Neely changed the location to protect the guilty However other North Carolina locations are bantered about without concern For Neely's purposes the name suffices establishing Blanche the domestic a resident of the South whose importance is of little note to the white citizens of the community authoritarian social or otherwise Farleigh was still a country town for all its pretensions The folks who lived here and had money even the really wealthy ones thought they were still living slavery days when a black woman was greateful for the chance to work indoors Even at the going rate in Farleigh she'd found no black people in town who could afford her not that working for black people ensured good treatment sad to sayThings really turn sour for Blanche when she's arrested on warrants for bad checks Checks she wrote for groceries to support her niece and nephew counting on her employers making good on her payday However her employers decided to take a powder uhm vacation to Topsail Beach or some other likely vacation spotBlanche ends up before a Judge who got up on the wrong side of the bed mistakenly reads her record and becomes indignant to find her before the Court a fourth time Thirty days in jail plus restitution It crosses one's mind how anyone makes restitution while incarceratedBlanche panics Away from her children yes she's come to look on them as her own for thirty days? The County's liable to come calling and her children will be in the State Foster Care system At the first opportunity when a brouhaha breaks out in the courtroom Blanche goes on the lamThat's when things get interesting Blanche was scheduled to take a placement through an employment service What better way to go into hiding working for wealthy white folks And Blanche only thought she was in troubleOne Cranberry Way A week long job Time to figure out how to handle this check problem Get a lawyer That's what she should have doneThe occupants of One Cranberry Way are the Carter family Aunt Emmaline is the family matriarch Who would have thought it? She parlayed a 5000000 inheritance from her late husband into a fortune in the stock market Do we need a reminder that money is the root of many evils?Niece Grace's parents are dead She's a likely heir upon Emmaline's death She is married to Everett a villain from the point of being introduced into the cast of characters Grace is his second wife His first was murdered Having a cast iron alibi Everett reaps the benefit of wife One's legacy But that money is goneThe other likely heir is Mumsfield cousin to Grace Mumsfield is the most sympathetic character in the novel With a diagnosis of Mosaic Mongolism Mumsfield functions uiet highly Derided constantly by Everett Mumsfield is drawn to Blanche who treats him kindly Blanche intuitively recognizes that Everett and Grace mean to gain Aunt Emmaline's estate If appointed Mumsfield's guardians Emmaline's fortune is at their disposalBlanche and Mumsfield share a kind of invisibility in the Carter household A black domestic and an adolescent deemed incapable of understanding the manipulations of Aunt Emmaline going on underneath their noses are things that Everett and Grace are confident will not be unraveled before the money is safely in their handsHowever events take a turn toward violence Everett and the Sheriff apparently are at odds of serious import to one another Blanche overhears a sharp interchange between the two The following morning the radio news carries the story that the Sheriff committed suicide the previous night driving his car over O'man's bluffOld Nate the long time Carter gardener drops by the kitchen to talk to Blanche over a cup of coffee Hear about the Sheriff? He asked her without a 'Hello' or 'How are you?' He didn't even wait for Blanche to answer 'Shame ain't it?' he added But the huge grin that turned his face intho that of a much younger carefree man didn't match his words It was probably events like the sheriff's death that got her slave ancestors a reputation for being happy childlike and able to grin in the face of the worst disaster She could just see some old slaver trying to find a reason why the slaves did a jig when the overseer diedBut Blanche knows there are things better ignored It would be better to forget about the sheriff's visits his conversations with Everett and the limousine rolling silently down the drive that shouldn't be a problem She had plenty of experience not seeing what went on in her customer's homes like black eyes specks of white powder left on silver backed mirrors cufflinks with the wrong initials under the bed and prescriptions for herpes She was particularly good at not seeing anything that might be dangerous or illegal But as good as she was at being blind there were certain things she couldn't overlookHowever the sheriff is only the first to go The body count increases Will Blanche herself leave her job safely? And what about Mumsfield? Who's to take care of him Or will she be murdered over some white people's shit that didn't have a damned thing to do with him? It would be easier to skip town and head to Boston lose herself back up North Send for the kids when it was safe But things just happen to fastNeely knows how to spin a yarn This is not your conventional mystery Rather Neely relies on building characterization of the main players in this tale of a family divided by its greed for the family fortune The dialog is sharp Blanche is a refreshingly savvy investigator though a reluctant one Interwoven into a well plotted story is a starkly honest portrayal of black anger in the face of a heritage of white oppression It's no spoiler that Blanche survives This is the beginning of a series Neely's debut drew the attention it deserved The Agatha Award for Best First Novel 1992 The Andrew Award for Best First Novel 1993 And the Macavity Award for Best First Novel 1993The novel's ending may leave some readers conflicted Be warned I won't reveal anything than to uote the old saw Two wrongs don't make a right I leave it to the reader to determine how the conclusion of this novel strikes themBlanche on the Lam A Blanche White MysteryTo state there is no racial divide in our country would be specious at best Neely clearly establishes the suspicion with which the races warily eye one another There's an infinite degree of sadness that this divide seemingly has no endKudos to Brash Books for reprinting Blanche on the Lam A Blanche White Mystery It's good to see Blanche White back in printOne last thought


  5. Ivonne Rovira Ivonne Rovira says:

    I first read Blanche on the Lam in the 1990s when I devoured all four of the books in the series Blanche White was unlike any other amateur sleuth anywhere resilient generous comfortable in her own skin savvy determined — well sometimes downright too stubborn for her own good — but absolutely a gem Imagine my dismay when after 2000’s Blanche Passes Go author Barbara Neely went silent No Blanche No candid observations about race gender body image or class No incredibly original mysteries Desperate I even emailed some university where Neely was teaching a course in the hopes that so many of us were begging that she’d reconsiderSo imagine my delight when I saw that Blanche on the Lam was being re released in the Kindle format An entire new generation can discover the opinionated clever zaftig domestic worker for themselvesIn the debut novel Blanche takes refuge in Hokeysville NC as a maid in a home right out of Southern Gothic Monthly the privileged but nervy Miz Grace Grace’s shifty husband Everett the feeble minded cousin Mumsfield and Aunt Emmeline the reclusive rich crone Like a modern day Amanda Wingfield Miz Grace tries to pretend that everything’s just peachy on the plantation but Blanche doesn’t take long to figure out that something murderous is afootReaders will love the humor the clever plotting and most of all the irrepressible Blanche herself Here’s to hoping that the rest of the series makes it onto the ebook format soonAnd Ms Neely? It’s still not too late to continue the series Just sayin’


  6. Lois Lois says:

    This was light hearted funny and surprisingly intersectionalfeminist I loved the narrator as well They were perfect for this story


  7. Alisa Alisa says:

    I read about this in a recent article in The Root about Kathryn Stockett's The Help The Root article said that Stockett isn't the first to write from the perspective of black Southern maids and mentioned Neely's series about amateur or accidental detective and professional housekeeper Blanche White The article suggested that Blanche is the counterpoint to Mosley's better known Easy Rawlins Based on Blanche on the Lam I'd say Neely's novels aren't as complex and are definitely domestic But they're not cozy and they have a strong black feminist realist perspective Blanche deals with the same racial social economic issues but in a different environment than Mosley's hard boiled LAIt was a uick enjoyable read and I really appreciated Blanche's perspective her commentary on her employers her information sources and the structure of the world she lived in I'll likely check out another Blanche novel in the future


  8. Monica **can& Monica **can& says:

    I was worried for about the first half of reading this one because I really want to love this series and it wasn't happening I felt lost in what time period this was actually taking place in for a while The things that were happening the atmosphere and sense of place made me think at first that this was happening in the late 50's or 60's but it is really taking place in the late 80's early 90's I think I still don't actually know If you know the actual decade please let me know The last of the book is where I really got invested in how the story was going to unfold All of my issues could be do to this story being the first in a series I definitely enjoyed the last third or so it just took me a while to get in the groove of what was going on I will continue on with the series and hopefully I'll have a better sense of when these adventures are taking place Where you can find me•♥•Monlatable Book Reviews•♥•Twitter monicaisreadingInstagram readermonicaGoodreads Group The Black Bookcase


  9. FreeFormLady FreeFormLady says:

    I'm giving this book 4 stars because I really like Blanche However the story is really slow The pace didn't pick up until the last 50 pages


  10. Jan Jan says:

    Don't worry darling she'll cooperate I promise you Why not just insert BBWWWwaaaaa Hhhaaa Hahaha here with some hands rubbing together? I like Blanche She is resourceful and observant I do not need the nitty gritty details of her every thought to get that She is worried about the kids I GOT IT Stop bringing it up and MOVE ON The baby steps she takes to describe her characters is maddening Like this Blanche studied him She noticed the folds in the corner of his eyes the thickness of his fingers Of course she thought Now she remembered who he'd reminded her of earlier It was Baby Joe Miz Harriet's son But Baby Joe had serious mental problems from Down's syndrome Could you have Down's syndrome but show it only a little bit?I had to stop reading Too many books too little time and this one was going to be no end of irritationAlso it's Down Syndrome not Down's syndrome


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