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Blanche on the Lam (Crime, Penguin) Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 1993

84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Neely's deftly written first novel pays tribute to the community and culture of a working-class African American woman who becomes both a sleuth and a fugitive from the law.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Blanche, a street-smart black domestic on the run from the sheriff for passing a bad check (again), winds up cooking and caring for edgy Miz Grace, her husband Everett, her wealthy, reclusive Aunt Emmeline, and her somewhat retarded Cousin Mumsfield at their summer home in Hokeysville, North Carolina--in a quirky mystery debut that pits Blanche against a Faulknerian cast of oddballs who may be trying to kill each other off to claim a southern fortune. Did Everett murder his first wife for her money, and does he have similar plans for his second? Is Grace trying to con her feeble auntie into signing a new will discounting Mumsfield and exalting her? Does auntie have a drinking problem, or is she the sweet, old woman Mumsfield remembers? Is the sheriff blackmailing Everett or vice versa? As Blanche wrestles with these problems, including what's in the cellar of the family's winter home, she communes telepathically with Mumsfield, phones home regularly to make sure her Mama and her two kids are all right, and ties in several other murders before heading off for the peace (she hopes) of Boston. Prickly view of class-clashes, race relations, and family foibles, in a somewhat forced, folk-talk style. Primarily for southern gothic aficionados. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Crime, Penguin
  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (February 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140174397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140174397
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.5 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By K. Levin on May 24, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As a white woman reading an African American woman's book, there are definitely moments where I am forced to confront hugely different ideas and expectations than those I've been surrounded with throughout my life. I find Blanche White's straightforward honesty refreshing, and, contrary to many other reviewers, I think that we hear "political" mental dialogue from most other mystery characters--we just aren't quite so challenged by the white woman's feminist blurb or some man's thoughts on the military.
As far as the mystery in this novel goes, it was a fun read that kept me interested. I flew through this first book and was left curious to know what would happen to Blanche in her future adventures. Any mystery that conforms to genre has the potential to be a great read for me--I'm in it for the characters and mood the author manages to convey. Having read two later installments in Neely's series, I can say that she keeps up the good work.
BarbaraNeely did an excellent job in crafting Blanche, giving her a three dimensional and believable character that might help other readers appreciate a perspective different from their own.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Schmidt on May 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In, Blanche On the Lam, Barbara Neely, writes about an African-American female, Blanche White, domestic worker, who turns into a rather sly sleuth. After writing one too many bad checks, she find herself on the run from the authorities. Blanche becomes a housekeeper in an upscale community. When a murder occurs in the wealthy estate that Blanche is working in at the time, she becomes the prime suspect. I almost fell into a trance and could not keep myself from turning the pages of this book, especially when reading about how Blanche gets herself into these homes. The way Barbara Neely strategically positions Blanches strong sense of humor really helped to keep my interest in reading this novel, and the fast pace helped as well. Blanche on the Lam is a great comedy and mystery that I would recommend to anyone who wants to read a good book. You won't be disappointed.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book over five years ago. I had never really been a fan of mystery books but this one kept my attention with it's humor and the excitement of wanting to know "who done it." Blanche was so life-like that you almost wanted to touch her on her shoulder and let her know that her secret was safe with you. Even then, she probably would not have told you what she knows! I appreciate Barbara Neely's narrative style and although her books are not too lenghty it definitely encourages you to pick up one of her other titles to get started right away! I definitely intend to add all of her titles to "mini mystery collection." The thing that I found most interesting about Barbara's work is that the main character is a black woman like myself and so the pictures become so much more vivid as you are engulfed in every last page! Keep up the great work, Barbara!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By gpangel on December 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely is a 2014 Brash Books publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This re-issue of the classic mystery series by Barbara Neely is a story written from the perspective of a black woman living in the south making her living as “the help” for rich white people.

When Blanche finds herself on the run from the law, she hides out in the home of an affluent family she was commissioned to work for. She immediately senses something is a little odd about this group of people, excepting for a young cousin with down syndrome who Blanche strikes up a friendship with. Together these two observe some strange goings on and over hear some incriminating conversations. Blanche isn't sure what the whole story is and well, she is frankly, trying to keep from calling too much attention to herself. But, when murder enters the picture, things really get dicey.

Before you start reading this one it might help a great deal if you keep in mind the book was originally published in 1992. There were a few times the story had a 'dated' feel to it, and Blanche's attitude was fairly negative at times. However, she was also pretty funny and despite some of her unpleasant traits, I couldn't help but like her.
However, the story didn't really get moving until late in the book and there really wasn't a lot going on except for the family drama in the household where Blanche worked. While I knew all this was eventually going to come together, my mind wandered off a few times and I had trouble keeping my interest up while waiting for the crime to commence. I did like the ending though as Blanche kind of got the last laugh.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laura Burgess on May 2, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love the original and true to self writing that Barbara Neely puts into Blanch and her other wonderful characters. As a working class woman I can really relate to Blanche and her desire for freedom and her original take on life (not afraid to not want kids or say it is a hard job), race (Yeah Night Girl!) and stretching ones own limitations (Blanche knows she has stuff to work on too).

I was really surprised by the reviews that called her preachy or talked about bathroom scenes. I think they missed the boat.

Please Ms. Neely write us some more Blanche!
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