In Blanche Among the Talented Tenth, Blanche has moved to Boston from North Carolina. School friends have invited her kids to spend the summer at a cIn Blanche Among the Talented Tenth, Blanche has moved to Boston from North Carolina. School friends have invited her kids to spend the summer at a coastal resort in Maine. Blanche joins them there for a couple of weeks, freeing the hosts to take a short "couples" vacation. The resort is a popular location for the rich and elite in the African American community. At the core are the Insiders whose families founded the resort and who own their cabins on the property. Outsiders are transient visitors who stay in the Amber Cove Inn. In addition to this divide, Blanche is confronted with the deep prejudice held by the light-skinned against those with very dark skins.
Just before Blanche arrives, one of the Insiders is killed when her radio falls into her bathtub. The victim was detested by everyone except her husband, and there's a possibility that she was murdered. Blanche joins forces with Mattie to find out exactly what happened and why.
This is the second of the Blanche White mysteries. As I read the first one, I was challenged to think about my attitudes toward persons of color and those who perform essential but menial work. In this second book, the reader is exposed to a form of racism which exists WITHIN the African American community.
Blanche White is a commanding voice. She sees right through to what's important and isn't afraid to call as spade a spade. This frankness is a key part of the appeal of the books in this series.
Originally published in 1992, Blanche on the Lam won the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel (1993), Anthony Award for Best First Novel (1993)
Originally published in 1992, Blanche on the Lam won the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel (1993), Anthony Award for Best First Novel (1993), and Agatha Award for Best First Novel (1992) for author Barbara Neely. It tells a story from the perspective of a black domestic worker in the deep south. When Blanche gets in trouble with the law over a bounced check, she's happy that a new job as a housekeeper takes her out of town when her employers relocate to their coastal get-away.
Blanche quickly realizes that something strange is going on within the family. The husband and wife are totally creepy and their ward, a young nephew with a developmental disorder is the only "normal" one. Blanche carefully watches what's going on and catches tidbits of some interesting conversations. While Blanche isn't sure what the whole story is, she's working very hard to keep a low profile. When a murder occurs, it's obvious that Blanche is going to be the prime suspect.
I found Blanche on the Lam to be a pleasant cozy mystery. But it was more than that. With recent events drawing attention to issues of race in America, I was continually asked to think about my attitudes toward not only those of color, but those who perform essential but menial work.
I found it interesting that the book description begins with “Twelve-year-old Willem has Aspergers Syndrome ...” and yet there's absolutely no mentio
I found it interesting that the book description begins with “Twelve-year-old Willem has Aspergers Syndrome ...” and yet there's absolutely no mention of Aspergers in the book. Rather, the reader is left to recognize Willem's difference from his classmates through his behavior and his first person narrative in How to Fly with Broken Wings. And, I'd rather that the writer of the blurb had kept it to herself that Willem has Aspergers. I know that I read the blurb when I first chose the book to read and review, but I had forgotten it by the time I started reading, which allowed me to discover Willem's quirks without expectations. (One reviewer complained that Willem was “not like any asperger kids that I've ever know or read...”.)
So, with that said, what is How to Fly with Broken Wings all about? It's about Willem and his challenge to make friends with two kids his own age. It's about Sasha, a girl who becomes his first friend. It's about Finn, TJ, and Laurence, three boys who bully Willem. It's about living in low-income housing. It's about gangs and riots. And, fortunately, it's about hope.
I thoroughly enjoyed How to Fly with Broken Wings. It will be released on 5 March in the UK. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the book has been picked up by a US publisher. And that's tragic. Jane Elson's story has a message that transcends national boundaries. I know there are kids in the US who could benefit from meeting Willem and seeing the world through his eyes.
Promise Paen is growing up on Montana—a quiet planet located in a strategic buffer zone between the Republic of Allied Worlds (RAW) and the LusitanianPromise Paen is growing up on Montana—a quiet planet located in a strategic buffer zone between the Republic of Allied Worlds (RAW) and the Lusitanian Empire (Lusies). Although Montana is a provisional member of the Republic, it has mostly been ignored by both of the major powers. This neglect has resulted in raids by pirates who murder and steal with impunity as Montana has almost no space presence at all.
When her widowed father is murdered and their farmhouse burned to the ground, Promise decides to enlist in the RAW Marines. Thus begins an illustrious career as Promise rises through the ranks to her first leadership role taking a small task force to Montana on a public relations mission. She's expected to simply show off the Marines and make nice with the government and citizens, but a pirate raid and an invasion by the Lusies forces Promise and her Marines to become defenders, holding the fort and hoping that reinforcements are sent from the nearest RAW garrison.
Unbreakable bears a lot of similarities to other military SF series, especially those with strong female leads. One particular, the political détente between RAW and the Lusies had a feel much like that between Manticore and the Solarian League in David Weber's Honor Harrington series.
'Twas a grand book with skirmish after skirmish, escalating to a grand conflict. The fly in the ointment is that the author simply tried too hard. The reader is inundated with too much information on military jargon, organization, and weapons. The story could stand some tightening up. The author has promised that this is the first of the series and I am looking forward to reading the next installment...more
Once upon a time, there was Jane Whitefield, a young Seneca woman who acts as a guide to help innocent people adopt new identities to escape from tho
Once upon a time, there was Jane Whitefield, a young Seneca woman who acts as a guide to help innocent people adopt new identities to escape from those who would do them harm. Think “private witness protection program”, except Jane will not take a client who is a criminal. She's the last resort for battered wives, the falsely accused, an inadvertent witness, and the innocent whistle blower.
After her marriage to Dr. Carey McKinnon, Jane goes into retirement, but 10 years later, she finds herself returning to her previous role on occasion. As A String of Beads begins, it's been a year since her last client and this time the request for her services comes from the entire group of clan mothers of her tribe—asking that she use her skills to help her childhood friend who has been framed for murder.
Having accepted a string of beads from the clan mothers as a token of the contract between them, Jane sets out to find her friend Jimmy and help him return safely home where he can surrender to the police. But, things quickly escalate when Jane discovers that it's not just the police who are seeking Jimmy. The man who framed him is determined that Jimmy not live to stand trial. In Jimmy's case, Jane isn't helping him establish a permanent identity, she's simply trying to keep him hidden long enough to smoke out the bad guys who are hunting him and make it safe for Jimmy to turn himself in.
A String of Beads is the eighth book in Perry's mystery series and I enjoyed it very much. Jane is at her best as she is evading her pursuers and utilizing the alternate identities she has carefully cultivated over twenty years. As she is protecting her client, she's also instructing him on how to hide. There's lots of action with a number of close calls and a big showdown at the end. Another departure from past stories is that Jane is actively trying to solve the murder so that Jimmy doesn't have to stay hidden for the rest of his life. As usual, the book is filled with references to Seneca beliefs, customs, and history.
I strongly recommended this newest volume for fans of the series and encourage those new to Jane Whitefield to start at the very beginning with Vanishing Act. You've got quite an adventure with one of mystery's strongest female protagonists.
Thanks to the publisher Mysterious Press and NetGalley for providing an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review.