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Blanche Cleans Up

(Blanche White #3)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  534 ratings  ·  85 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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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  534 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The other day I was thinking about what a mystery story would be like if the main character wasn't an investigator, or an ex-cop, or a rich person with a penchant for trouble. What would a story be like, I wondered, if someone found themselves in it, so to speak? And then along comes Blanche Cleans Up to answer my question.

Blanche White has been working as a household domestic and has recently moved with her sister's two children up to Boston from South Carolina. As a favor to a cousin, she
Brown Girl Reading
EXCELLENT!!! Each book gets better and better. So sad that there's only one left. I highly recommend this series. Barbara Neely writing of this series is nothing shorter than perfection!
I know I can depend on you, Blanche. Taifa told me about how you helped that lady up there in Maine and that white boy down home. I know youll do as much for your old friend.

Blanche is a domestic, middle-aged and black. She works for white folks. In this third book, she has brought her two children to Boston and lives in the Roxbury section.

Helping the white folk may be her day job but, She liked sticking her nose in where it wasnt supposed to be and finding out things other people didnt want
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 Americas 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 ...more
Apr 01, 2017 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
Ivonne Rovira
Jun 30, 2015 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, didnt usually have a strenuous job. However, Blanche hadnt counted on blueblood Allister Brindles campaign for governor of Massachusetts. Or on the disappearance of Allisters estranged son, Marc. Or on the mysterious death of Miz Inezs son Ray-Ray just a few days into the temporary job with ...more
Leslie Reese
Blanche doesn't necessarily solve mysteries as much as she has a lot of responsibilities and her hand in a lot of pots; is highly-opinionated, and nosy! I think I would have enjoyed this book even more had it (1) a shorter roster of characters, (2) a shorter list of murders, (3) a bit less sleaze, (4) fewer ends to tie up at the end, and (5) a smidge less "sassiness" on Blanche's part. A very entertaining read. I read Blanche on the Lam back in the 1990s, but I don't remember her character being ...more
Apr 25, 2015 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
This was exceptionally good. The mystery was actually decent and a bit more complicated than the previous 2 books-which was nice. Usually the mystery isn't that great it's the other aspects of the story that are.
This books themes were crooked politicians period, uncle tom politicians, misuse of religion in politics, effects of lead paint, homosexuality in the black community as well as in US. Prostitution, a few of the ideas presented around this were dated and not ok. Otherwise these books
May 22, 2008 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.
Mar 14, 2017 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.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Well, this was just delightful. Blanche is my new favorite. While I've read enough of this type of story to know basically how it was all going to go down (for real, if you have a past that includes (view spoiler) why on earth would you find it sensible to run for governor? Although I'm probably being naive to think that anyone would care in this year of our lord 2019), but Blanche is such a fabulous character that she made the whole ...more
Clare O'Beara
May 02, 2016 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 ...more
Craig Pittman
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first of Barbara Neely's books about African-American household employee and sometime detective Blanche White, "Blanche on the Lam," packed a lot of action into a short book and I loved it. The second one, "Blanche Among the Talented Tenth," showed Blanche taking a vacation at the seaside and it was kind of slow-moving and not nearly as good. With this entry in the series, though, Blanche is back to work and back in the thick of things, and it's anything BUT leisurely. Five people die ...more
Megan Sanks
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Why only solve murder when Blanche can also fight against environmental racism, homphobia, and prejudice against sex work? I love her. Also Blanche's friendship with Ardell always makes me cry.
Feb 18, 2017 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 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
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
Shantel Clemons
May 10, 2015 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 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 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.
Kaethe Douglas
I could really go for some time with Blanche right now.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It only took a few pages for me to recall with comfy joy why I love Blanche White. She is so strong and unconventional, wise, witty, insightful.

In this episode, Blanche has been in Boston for a few years with her two adopted kids who are becoming teens. She takes on a one-week temporary job in the Brindle household, filling in for her cousin's friend. The big cheese, Allister Brindle, is a pretty lousy personsnooty, racist, and meanbut he's preparing a run for governor. There's a lot of racial
Shelley M.
I liked how we we saw another side of Blanche in this book...she's always so confident and strong, but I noticed a few scenes in this book where she wasn't as sure of herself, which made her seem more human. Several of these scenes involved her kids, who I like a lot, and I was glad they played bigger roles in this book. I also liked that there were gay characters and how Blanche confronted several other characters' homophobia along with her own heterosexist assumptions. I guess the only thing I ...more
Diane Zimanski
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful experience

This series is a delight. The authors pride in black culture, and her love for the people who live in it shines out of every page. The people who come alive in this book are rich in diversity, endurance and complexity.

Though this book I funny and uplifting, it is not easy for a white person to read as some injustices cant be fixed, or atoned for, or forgiven. However I defy anyone to remain untouched by the universal humanity of these characters or to not fervently wish for
Christine (Caffrey)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Anderson
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Barbara Neely really hits her stride with the third novel in her mystery series featuring Blanche White, a very-dark, plus-sized domestic worker who also solves crime. Previous novels included sly social commentary on race and class in America, be it interracial tensions or colorism within the Black community. Neely is more ambitious here, branching out to deal with homophobia, corrupt Black ministers, environmental justice, and more. The mystery itself is more complex as well. Most highly ...more
Elena Smith
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Third in the Blanche White series, the tenor of this story is somber, a collapsing domino train of unintended consequences. I enjoy the fact that Blanche changes and grows with every book. I do not always agree with her views, and I cant always relate to what she says, but I enjoy being invited to understand when I am ushered into her world. Certainly, the basis of her fears, worries and struggles has an Everyman quality. ...more
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Barbara Neely was 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, ...more

Other books in the series

Blanche White (4 books)
  • Blanche on the Lam (Blanche White #1)
  • Blanche Among the Talented Tenth (Blanche White series Book 2)
  • Blanche Passes Go (Blanche White series Book 4)

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