Barbara Neely. Blanche on the Lam. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992.

Barbara Neely was sharing insights about the lives of African American women who earn their livings as domestic workers long before The Help hit bookstores.  In this first novel in a four book series, Blanche White, feisty and forty-something, takes a week-long job with a rich family as a way to hide out after she is sentenced to jail on a bad-check charge.  The family are off to their country house in Hokeyville, a good distance from the Durham County jail where Blanche is supposed to spend the next thirty days.  Not that time with the Mumsfields doesn’t feel like a sentence.  The family matriach, Aunt Emmeline, is in decline and family members are circling like vultures to get their hands on her money.  But there are other things going on too–the suicide of the local sheriff, the death of the family’s long-time gardener, and Aunt Em’s disappearance. Curious and observant by nature, Blanche decides that she has to get to the bottom of it all.  What she finds is multiple  murders–and a family that will pay her to go far away.

Blanche on the Lam is listed as one of the  20 Essential Novels for African-American Women. See the whole list at


Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1992, Mystery, Neely, Barbara, Novels in Series, Piedmont

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