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Summary

Blanche White is a plump, feisty, middle-aged African-American housekeeper working for the genteel rich in North Carolina. But when an employer stiffs her, and her checks bounce, she goes on the lam, hiding out as a maid for a wealthy family at their summer home.

That plan goes awry when there's a murder and Blanche becomes the prime suspect. So she's forced to use her savvy, her sharp wit, and her old-girl network of domestic workers to discover the truth and save her own skin.

Along the way, she lays bare the quirks of southern society with humor, irony, and a biting commentary that makes her one of the most memorable and original characters ever to appear in mystery fiction.

©1992 Barbara Neely (P)2017 Tantor

Critic reviews

"Neely's deftly written first novel pays tribute to the community and culture of a working-class African-American woman who becomes both a sleuth and a fugitive from the law." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Blanche on the Lam

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Brilliant and Fascinating Listen!

I absolutely LOVED this book! Great storyline, kept me captivated the entire time! Great imagery and the narration was excellent, It made me feel like I was watching a movie! Highly recommended!

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  • Mary M. Campbell
  • 14-05-18

Beautifully read, and probably provocative to some

I listened to this and was hooked from the beginning. The writing is superb and I thought the reader did an outstanding job. She really brought the book alive. I realize the book makes some hard comments about race and stereotypes, and maybe these are not as prevalent as they were when the book was written, but I would propose that all these ways of thinking still exist, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. I admit it was strong in that regard, and as a white woman I don't think I have the experience to argue otherwise. As someone whose family is from the region discussed, I think there is a great deal of truth in the writer's words, and maybe we could all benefit from recognizing there is still a lot more progress we can make in exposing and eradicating racism. I just loved the writing most of all, and I would recommend this to others who enjoy a well written story and can stay open-minded to the relevance of Blanche's experience.

27 people found this helpful

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  • Alexis
  • 16-12-19

For what it’s worth I think it’s a Gem

I’m white so please read this review through that filter or forgo reading it if that suits you better. I am grateful for this book and having been able to read it once in my teens in the late 90s, and then find it again here on audible. This book, through Blanche’s confident perspective, taught me that the silent spaces I encounter in racially tense encounters are NOT places I can project my own narrative and to do so would dismiss a deeper pragmatism and emotional reality that Blanche represents. Obviously I cannot compare my experience against Blanche’s (both racially and also being an adult in a time before cell phones and internet) to hold the story up to any scrutiny regarding plausibility. I found it compelling.
A side note, however: I am a bit skeptical it is 100% unabridged. I remember a scene with her bonding with Ardell over recovering from sexual trauma that seems absent. Perhaps it was in a later book....

15 people found this helpful

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  • Beatrice
  • 23-09-17

Insulting

This book is filled with bad stereotypes and a ridiculous predictable plot. I couldn't finish listening.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Delfina
  • 23-09-17

Not For Me

I'm sure Barbara Neely is a talented writer. However, I don't like to read about characters who constantly make stupid decisions. I returned this book after chapter 6 because I simply couldn't force myself to listen anymore.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Aiq
  • 18-12-18

mystery novel of note

i loved this book. Barbara Neely is a smart mystery novelist and i like her cheeky style.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Donna
  • 27-09-20

A Delightful Listen

The story and narration were great. This book is a pleasant escape from the crazy of every day life. A quick, easy, fun story.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Debra McDonald
  • 13-03-20

My introduction to Ms. Neely

I struggled in beginning but is was worth it.
Ending was shall I say interesting.

3 people found this helpful

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  • James Thomas
  • 26-09-17

Good but not great

This was a good story but the narrator could have been better. There was an over pronunciation of words that took getting used to. The voices were better than the regular reading and sounded more natural if that makes any sense.

3 people found this helpful

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  • ABB
  • 13-08-20

A timely cultural murder mystery

This is a murder mystery for everyone, including folks who don’t generally read murder mysteries. The easy flow of Barbara Neely’s writing style, in conjunction with Lisa Renee Pitt’s superb narration, makes this book intriguing and very rewarding to listen to. The exploration of the culture of the African-American housekeeper; the struggles of identity, blended with humor and seriousness, Makes the listener stop and think about all the context within the story not just the who done it.
Blanch, a woman of color running from the law because of an unpaid fine, finds herself working for a highly dysfunctional white family with a lot of secrets that almost cost Blanch her life.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Deborah
  • 20-02-20

Good story...enjoyed this book!

Loved it! The narration was wonderful, filled with genuine expression and emotion! I highly recommend it!

2 people found this helpful