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Blanche Cleans Up (Blanche White #3)

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  374 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Tart-tongued and shrewd, Blanche is unique in the field of amateur sleuths: a queen-sized, middle-aged black woman rooted in working-class America. In her latest adventure Blanche gets suckered into standing in as cook-housekeeper to Allister Brindle, a Boston Brahmin politician, and his do-gooder wife. Blanche is quickly enmeshed in a scandal that moves from the Brindles' ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published April 1st 1998)
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Barbara Neely only wrote four Blanche books, but each one addresses issues central to life in America, and highlights the effect of these issues on the lives of America’s black folk. Blanche White, name notwithstanding, is a large woman with skin "on the extreme edge of blackness" and works as a "domestic." If you ever wanted to know what your maid or cook was thinking when they answered "Yes, Ma'm" with eyes cut off to the side, you're going to get your chance here. This woman is going to surpr ...more
Apr 01, 2017 Udeni rated it it was amazing
This is the third of the Blanche White detective series of books, and the first where all the fictional elements (plot, character, dialogue, pacing) all come together. Blanche has moved to Boston with her two teenage charges, and is struggling to bring them up safely in an inner-city neighbourhood. She is working at a politician's mansion when murder strikes. Blanche is quickly drawn into a plot involving blackmail, sex scandals, and her own life is soon in danger.

Neely hits her stride in this b
Ivonne Rovira
Jun 30, 2015 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who could blame Blanche White for assuming that filling in for a week as a cook-housekeeper as a favor to someone would be easy? After all, Miz Inez, who normally had the gig at the stately Brindle mansion, didn’t usually have a strenuous job. However, Blanche hadn’t counted on blueblood Allister Brindle’s campaign for governor of Massachusetts. Or on the disappearance of Allister’s estranged son, Marc. Or on the mysterious death of Miz Inez’s son Ray-Ray just a few days into the temporary job — ...more
May 22, 2008 Deirdre rated it really liked it
Recommended to Deirdre by: Susan by way of Helen - thank you!
I love the Blanche books. How often do you get a casual, easy-reading mystery told with a feminist, working-class, social justice, anti-racist perspective? I'd like to have a gin & tonic with Blanche.
Clare O'Beara
May 02, 2016 Clare O'Beara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: america-crime
Blanche is a self-possessed and comfortably-figured housekeeper who works for an agency and goes in when another housekeeper is on vacation. At this time she enters a mansion where a wealthy white family lives; the husband is entering an election race. Blanche White, who is very black is used to being overlooked although it's hard to get the better of her. She notices while handing around canapés that the candidate is sucking up to established black leaders in the community rather than going to ...more
I can't even describe how awesome this book was! It totally exceeded my high expectations. Characterization was incredible--from the smart, feisty, flawed, observant sleuth Blanche to every single side character. The novel is full of everyday wisdoms and observations about humanity and life on this earth, not to mention realistic, astute commentary about being black in the US, class, sex work, homophobia, abortion, environmentalism, domestic work, and other issues weaved seamlessly and effortles ...more
Feb 18, 2017 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-books
so enjoyable! neely once again delivers a story with heart, while dealing with important racial and social issues. the novel is engaging without ever feeling preachy, and i was particularly fond of the focus on families and community. blanche is such a strong protagonist - but she's flawed and self-aware which makes for a terrific combination of traits.
Jun 17, 2015 Hadenmaiden rated it really liked it
Blanche is a middle aged lady with attitude.
She is bringing up her sister's two children on her own, living away from her home town, and her mother, but with lots of friends in the local community.
This book is a murder mystery - with a difference. Blanche is standing in for her friend Miz Inez, who needs to take time away from her regular job, so Blanche ends up housekeeping for a wealthy local family. Whilst Miz Inez is away, her son dies (or is murdered, we don't know for a while) and Blanche
Apr 25, 2015 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I am such a fan of Barbara Neely's series that I am afraid I can't consider this an unbiased review.

We may not be talking serious literature here, but we are talking about a very entertaining novel that is well-written, but also thought provoking. For me, the strength of "the Blanche novels" is that they address social issues throughout the book. Race and class are not just a sub-text, they are central to who Blanche is and how she faces the world. I have found each of the three books I've read
Shantel Clemons
May 10, 2015 Shantel Clemons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received the ARC kindle edition of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Having read the first two books in this series, I have to say each book keeps getting better! Although the series is set in the 90's, the core issues of politics and race are still prevalent today. Blanche is a character that any woman should be able to identify with. This time around, Blanche is working a job for a friend while the friend takes a vacation. Who knew that the family she is working ...more
Aug 21, 2010 Tlovesbooks rated it it was amazing
Ok. I love a good murder mystery. I actually went through an Agatha Christie phase in middle school. This book begins a series of mysteries where a local cleaning woman, Blanche White, has to navigate through social expectations and others indiscretions to get to the truth about the murder of African American man in this small town.

Blanche is smart, sassy and skilled as unassuming investigator. Love the book and the series. I have been patiently waiting more installments for years:(
Feb 23, 2015 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
easy reading. lots of good social issues from a black person's perspective; race, class, politics. will read more of Neely's books. great interview with her on you tube.
Jul 07, 2014 Kaethe rated it really liked it
I could really go for some time with Blanche right now.
Mar 14, 2017 FreeFormLady rated it it was amazing
I love me some Blanche White! I've read 3 of the 4 books & this one is definitely my favorite so far.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Philip Bailey
Jun 27, 2015 Philip Bailey rated it it was amazing
Speaking through the character of Blanche, the author gives validation to the many concepts of the black population of Roxbury Massachusetts. I myself have made an immediate and illegal U-turn when I encountered the sign Entering Roxbury upon getting lost as I left a Red Sox game. No doubt there are many other accurate expressions of the attitude of black people as regards white people and of other black people. All that aside, this book is the third in the Blanche White series I have read. The ...more
May 05, 2015 Vi rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-reviews
Blanche is a 49 y.o. woman, raising her sister's two children. She's an efficient day worker, cooking and cleaning, for wealthy families. She's temporarily working for Allister and Felicia Brindle, while Ms. Inez (the regular worker), vacations with Blanche's cousin. Blanche is also caring for her cousin's 16 y.o. granddaughter while she's away. Unexpected events become mysteries. Ray-Ray, Ms. Inez' son, shows up at the Brindle home. Mr. Brindle (whose running for governor), rages in anger becau ...more
Donna Davis
Blanche Cleans Up, which is #3 in the Blanche White mystery series, is more than a murder mystery, as the numerous word plays in the title imply. This is a smart, funny-yet-serious series, and I am thrilled to be able to review another one for Net Galley and Brash Books, who provided me with a DRC. This title was released at the beginning of May, and so you ought to be able to buy it right now.

Blanche is a single African-American woman who chooses to do domestic work so that she can select her e
This was my first, and thus far, only Blanche White read. Blanche White is a black woman who cleans rich white people’s houses for a living, solves mysteries, and mothers her dead sister’s children. My friends in Boston would particularly enjoy this novel because it takes place in Roxbury. Much of the novel operates as a direct confrontation with homophobia. Running through the novel as well is the question posed by Malik (Blanche’s son/nephew) who wants to write a research paper on environmenta ...more
Another engaging and satisfying Blanche White mystery...a relief after the somewhat disappointing Blanche Among the Talented Tenth. Unlike the previous two books, Blanche Cleans Up takes place in Blanche's neighborhood (and the neighborhoods of her employers), rather than a country home or vacation resort. The relationships of Blanche and her family, including the niece and nephew for whom she acts as guardian, receive more attention as a result. Blanche having to deal with two adolescents and t ...more
Nanette Tredoux
Apr 27, 2015 Nanette Tredoux rated it really liked it
If this book were a cake, it would be one of those with eight eggs, lots of butter and cream cheese frosting. And a cherry on top. A rich mix of motherly emotions, social responsibility, politics, thriller and murder mystery, I went and bought myself every other Barbara Neely book I could find before I had even finished half of it. The book is intense and deeply lived. Blanche is a little psychic and in close touch with her ancestors. She speaks her mind, and her words are choice, if not always ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Molly rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
I actively disliked the book for the first quarter. I thought this was because of its over-simplification of race. I now think I disliked it just because it was poorly written. I realized this when I hit the quarter mark, because the book finally hit its stride and was enjoyable. Blanche does clean up. My only other criticism is that I just didn't believe the main plot twists. I believe the characters, but *spoiler alert* that's just not how sexual deviance works. Bestiality and child abuse? Vic ...more
Apr 26, 2015 Betty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books
Blanche does a favorite for a friend Ienz by working for her so she can take a vacation. Inez is working for the Brindles and the husband is a right-winged conservative running for Governor. Her friend's son is found dead and it felt by Mr Brindle that son stole an object he wants. Before long Blanche is involved in their affairs and suspected of having the tape. She needs to find the tape in order to protect her family. This story has many turns and twists. There a paranormal factor that adds t ...more
Apr 24, 2015 Maryellen rated it liked it
This was my first Blanche mystery and I'm of two minds. First, the author weaves a good mystery tale. The mystery is layered and complicated with multiple plot lines and characters. The story is well paced and her descriptive prose brings the Roxbury community to life. My second mind on this book is more problematic and rests with Blanche, the protagonist. While her character is well drawn, I found her mostly unlikable and it's hard for me to truly enjoy a book if I don't feels some affinity for ...more
Aug 08, 2015 Jendi rated it it was amazing
A temporary job as cook-housekeeper lands our strong-willed and savvy heroine in the middle of a political blackmail scheme that leads to homicide. The best part of this series for me is learning how Blanche sees the world. Her forceful opinions on everything from homophobia to natural hairstyles are backed by hard-earned wisdom, but also serve as a defense against vulnerability and heartbreak. I did feel that the contents of the blackmail videotape were over-the-top; any one of those perverse a ...more
Mar 04, 2015 Diane rated it liked it
Blanche is a wonderful loyal friend who doesn't take nonsense from anyone, and I mean anyone, but she is also an eavesdropper and a gossip encourager and not because she is trying to solve a murder but just because she is just plain nosy. I have always longed to have a maid, have always been sure I was meant to have a maid, but now, if Blanche is the typical maid, am not so sorry that I don't have one.
This was an enjoyable read about a cleaning woman who is warm and generous and down to earth.
Aug 26, 2015 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, netgalley
I'd not read any of the other "Blanche" mysteries and was pleasantly surprised. I really liked the character of Blanche and the way she moved around in her world. What I really found appealing is that we don't often have characters like Blanche in mystery novels. It's not that common to find a blue-collar African American woman in the cozy mystery genre. And despite it's being a cozy mystery, there are a lot of issues that Blanche brings to the surface. This book is a good to read for the myster ...more
Jul 08, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it
Another good story in the Blanche White series.
Barbara Neely uses this series to not only share interesting mystery stories with us, but to also discuss issues. This book discusses protecting your family from the dangerous out in the world, from violence against gay lovers, teen pregnancy, lead poisoning, political corruption, and racial issues.
The two are intertwined very well in a well-written book that keeps you guessing and gets you thinking.
(Note: I received a free copy of this book in exch
Jun 16, 2015 Ann rated it really liked it
I like this series. Set in the late 60's with a older black domestic as our main character it's an unusual read. Blanche is funny, loving and a fighter for justice. Her family is important and she works hard to provide for them. She takes a temporary job for a rich white family with political aspirations. When a young man is murdered in Blanche's neighborhood there are rumors he was blackmailing her temporary employers. Great series, great people, wonderful story lines.
Jun 23, 2014 Barbara rated it it was ok
Comparing this autor to Walter Mosley is indeed generious. She dose write about the Black innercity experience and it is informative and it's good to begin to understand, she however does it in a lecturing kind of way rather than as Mosley does by weaving it seamlessly into the story. I probably will not read other of Barbara Neely's Blanche series but will continue to read all of Walter Mosley that I can get my hands on.
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BarbaraNeely is a novelist, short story writer, and author of the popular Blanche White mystery novels. The first book in this series, BLANCHE ON THE LAM, won the Agatha, the Macavity, and the Anthony -- three of the four major mystery awards for best first novel -- as well as the Go On Girl! Book Club award for a debut novel. The subsequent books in the series, BLANCHE AMONG THE TALENTED TENTH, B ...more
More about Barbara Neely...

Other Books in the Series

Blanche White (4 books)
  • Blanche on the Lam
  • Blanche Among the Talented Tenth (Blanche White #2)
  • Blanche Passes Go

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