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Blanche on the Lam (Blanche White #1)

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  1,313 Ratings  ·  152 Reviews
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.
Paperback, 215 pages
Published February 1st 1993 by Penguin Books (first published 1992)
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Dec 21, 2014 Carol. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery readers wanting to stretch

Remember 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
Mar 10, 2017 Udeni rated it really liked it
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 sections!

While on the run for a minor check cashing incident, Blanche ends up at a creepy Southern mansion. She is surrou

I received a copy of Blanche on the Lam: A Blanche White Mystery through Netgalley, offered by Brash Books, in exchange for an honest review.

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Blanche on the Lam, Barbary Neely, First Ed., St. Martin's Press, New York, New York, 1992

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Barbara 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 seem
Ivonne Rovira
Dec 22, 2014 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, of course!
Shelves: favorites
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 more Blanche! No more candid observations about race, gender, body image, or class! No more incred
Apr 27, 2010 Alisa rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Walter Mosley and Miss Marple
Recommended to Alisa by: The Root
Shelves: mystery
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 more
Mar 26, 2015 Jan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
"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 thickn
Mar 09, 2017 Ginger rated it really liked it
This could have easily been an average cozy/mystery book. Barbara Neely's ability to grasp and convey race and class issues while also delivering a fun mystery make this book much more than average.
Nov 30, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to read something other than "The Help"
Shelves: _fiction
I love Blanche White! This was one of those books that immediately draws the reader to the main character. Blanche is a domestic worker in the South who gets into "trouble" with the law and hides out for a week working for a rich white family--and ends up solving a series of murders along the way. The author's portrayal of Blanche is as a woman with a fierce intellect and deep interior life, honed by her experience as a working class Black woman and mother, who theorizes the white supremacist pa ...more
Sarah Weathersby
I would never have found this book, if not for one of my reading groups on It was first published in 1992, and first of a series of Blanche White mysteries. We're fortunate to have the series now available on Kindle, as the paperback and hardcover versions are out of print and available as used books.

Blanche is a feisty character who gets into legal trouble for writing bad checks, but manages to sneak out of the courthouse, escaping from a sentence of 30-days in jail. And that's j
Jan 29, 2016 FreeFormLady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 14, 2017 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-books
blanche is a great character, and i enjoyed this book! though the novel came out in 1992, the social and racial issues touched on are still important and relevant today. i look forward to continuing this series.
Elizabeth Amber Love
Jan 25, 2015 Elizabeth Amber Love rated it it was amazing
I did something different than a typical review of BLANCHE ON THE LAM. I used it as a study in writing cozy mysteries and made detailed notes about Neely's structure, character development of her protagonist, and grammar style.

Here are some excerpts, but I hope you check out the full analysis at my blog:


In regards to crafting the main character, Blanche White, Barbara Neely does an exceptional job of making her a regular human being
Carolyn Injoy
Aug 07, 2015 Carolyn Injoy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery readers, Barbara Neely fans
Recommended to Carolyn by: NetGalley
I received a free kindle copy of Blanche on the Lam (Blanche White #1) by Barbara Neely, published by Brash Books from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

I gave this interesting mystery four stars. It is the first of Barbara Neely's books I've read but won't be the last. It was an intriguing look at interactions between 'domestic help' & their employers. It gives interesting insight into black/white relationships in the United States.

"She'd ignored both events despite her claim that rea
Mar 12, 2016 Bill rated it really liked it
Blanche, a black maid, who has had to bounce a check since the last four white women she’s worked for have yet to pay her, has been ordered to jail for 30 days – but she has to support her kids – what to do?

She takes off – and lands in a job that she was going to take, then canceled at the last minute, but since the agency had yet to fill the job, it was hers – and fortunately, the people were planning to head to their country place and Blanche would be safe from the sheriff.

What she would not b
3.5 stars. A lot of fun, and smart too! Blanche White is a black maid in North Carolina who finds herself fleeing a conviction for writing bad cheques by slipping right into a wealthy white household that needs a maid for a trip to the country house. She soon learns that there's more to the family than meets the eye, and finds herself playing the role of amateur sleuth. The 'mystery' isn't all that much of a one or very fast-moving, and the secondary characters have about as much depth as you'd ...more
Mar 10, 2009 Sara rated it liked it
1st in the Blanche White series. Blanche is a great character, a practical, no-nonsense African-American woman. In Blanche on the Lam we see the many trials she faces in cleaning up other people's messes - ranging from employers who want her to listen to their personal problems while cleaning their homes, to happening on a string of murders while on a job in the country. The mystery isn't that exciting, but this is a good introduction to a memorable woman, a well-rounded character who has intere ...more
Tim Mode
If you liked, The Help you'll like this compelling, easy to read murder-mystery. Some excellent character-development, including a positive relationship between a strong, savvy female African-American protagonist and a lovable male, Euro-american handicapped supporting-character. Offers an interesting view into post-slavery Southern-US cultural milieu including insights into how some Southern service workers may interact with their rich employers.
Neely, Barbara - 1st in Blanche White series

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.

We read it in Mystery Group. We all felt it was good, but not great.
Gabi Coatsworth
May 11, 2015 Gabi Coatsworth rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
This is the first crime novel I've read in which the protagonist is a black woman. I liked it very much but was a little puzzled as to the time frame. In many ways it felt as though it was happening in the 50's, but there were some clues that it might be intended as contemporary (written in 1992). That aside, I couldn't help liking Blanche as she stays one step ahead of the law and manages to solve a dangerous mystery.
Feb 13, 2016 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really excellent novel. Loved the protagonist. Loads of interesting social commentary couched in a dash of humor, especially in the first half. The build up is slow and steady, reaching a climax that blew the lid off.
Feb 15, 2016 Veronique rated it did not like it
Kan helaas mijn aandacht niet vasthouden. Niks voor mij
Ian Wood
Jan 20, 2015 Ian Wood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-
Dec 18, 2016 Michelle rated it liked it
I came across this book after a bunch of research, trying to find a candidate for the "first book in a series by a POC author" for my 2016 Read Harder challenge. I was kind of surprised when I absolutely loved the first 2/3rds; Blanche is a very memorable and well-drawn character, and I loved a lot of the insightful things she had to say about race, class, and working as a domestic caretaker for affluent white people in NYC and the South. HOWEVER, I am sad to report that the book completely crum ...more
mary blankenship
Wonderful Novel

Truly enjoyed reading a fiction book with so much truth about what so many African Americans feel and deal with. America has come a long way with minority rights. Now if we could all love each other no matter how different.
Mar 19, 2017 Ray rated it liked it
This was really good. Subversive.
Mar 14, 2017 Jeffrey rated it liked it
ebook. Not much of a mystery. Descriptions of the miliea and the difficulties facing a black single woman in the south are interesting
Jan 24, 2015 Ukgardenfiend rated it liked it

I found that it this book echoed very strongly ‘The Help’ but in a way that was intended to be humorous rather than serious, but was not sure just how deliberate this was from the author’s view. So I decided to look up the author. She is mentioned on several sites but I looked to site developed by the University of Minnesota as being one that might be reliable.
Neeley was born in Pennsylvania in 1941 in an area where Dutch was the prevailing language and was the only African-American child in her
Oct 06, 2016 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. It took until the 90 page to get to the ~mystery~ part, but Neely was just trying to introduce us to Blanche as well the family in the story. The twist was pretty great, and very unexpected. I put my hand to my mouth when we found out who was the murderer. That being said, I am excited to read more about Blanche.
Donna Davis
I was already a Barbara Neely fan when I received this DRC, courtesy of the Brash Priority Reviewers Circle, in exchange for an honest review. I’ve been reviewing books for Brash Books and others for the past couple of years, and had read three other Blanche White mysteries out of order, so when I saw that the first in the series—which I think was the only one I hadn’t read yet—was up for grabs, I nailed it right away. It’s available for purchase now.

The amazing thing to me is that although thes
Blanche White (yes, that's really her name) has written one too many bad checks, thanks to meager wages not promptly paid, and she's facing jail time. Panic leads her to sneak out of the courthouse during a commotion and flee, ending up bluffing her way into a job for clients she'd had to cancel on thanks to the court appearance. Luckily for Blanche, the family soon heads to their summer home in another town, providing her a place to hide out while she figures out her next steps. Her employers h ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Editions need to be combined 2 16 Dec 04, 2014 11:55PM  
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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 Among the Talented Tenth (Blanche White #2)
  • Blanche Cleans Up
  • Blanche Passes Go

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“Maybe his stuff was so good it made her think she could fly!” 1 likes
“Blanche stared at Emmeline’s door for a few moments, bristling with the desire to knock and trying to conquer her natural inclination to defy the voice of authority. It was one of the reasons she had not lasted in the waitressing, telephone sales, clerking, and typing jobs she’d tried over the years.” 0 likes
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