Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: Blanche Passes Go by Barbara Neely

Book Cover: Blanche Passes Go by Barbara Neely
Published August 2015 by Brash Books
Source: eGalley ARC from publisher via NetGalley

The fourth, ground-breaking mystery featuring African-American maid and amateur sleuth Blanche White by Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award winning Author Barbara Neely

Blanche White returns to Farleigh, North Carolina for the summer to help her best friend with her catering business. It’s a homecoming rich with the potential for new romance and fraught with the pain of facing the man who raped her at knife-point years ago but was never prosecuted for the crime. Shortly after Blanche arrives, a young woman is murdered and the clues point to the rapist. Blanche investigates, determined not to let him get away with another crime...nor is she willing to let his money-hungry sister marry a sweet, mentally-challenged man for his wealth. With her usual persistence, feisty wit, and indomitable spirit, her quest for the truth reveals the racism and sexism that still permeate the new south, but also the conflicts that divide her own family...and that might prevent her from accepting the love she so richly deserves.


My Thoughts

As Blanche Passes Go begins, the kids have taken on summer jobs and Blanche is traveling back home to Farleigh, to help her best friend Ardell in her new catering business. Returning home is not all pleasure, however, since she's bound to run across her former lover and his new wife. And, she's dreading the possibility of coming face-to-face with the rich white man who raped her so many years ago.

The publisher's blurb above will tell you about what happens in Blanche Passes Go, so I don't need to repeat the summary of the story. Instead, let me tell you my thoughts about this book. Blanche Passes Go is the fourth, and unfortunately the last, book in the Blanche White mystery series. Blanche isn't a young woman. She's had hard life, made harder at times by the wealthy people that she works for. She's plain-spoken and tends to tell things like they are.

But Blanche is not overcome by the challenges in her life. She has been determined to live life on her own terms. Rather than go to work in a conventional job, she controls her own “career” by remaining independent—selecting which jobs she will take and passing on others. After her sister's death, Blanche was charged with raising the sister's two children. As any parent of teens will attest, it's difficult keeping up with the dramatic changes as the young people reach toward adulthood. Blanche knows that she has an extra challenge in raising her niece and nephew amid the prejudice and racism that is rampant in the United States. She's made a good home for them in Boston, but her heart is still in North Carolina where she was raised—where her family and closest friends live.

I'm a real fan of Blanche White, and terribly disappointed that there are no more books to look forward to. Barbara Neely has crafted a series with unique characters, not the stereotypes you might expect. I highly recommend Blanche Passes Go and encourage you to read the entire—though short—series. I think you'll find much to enjoy in Blanche.


Disclosure: I received a free copy of Blanche Passes Go from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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