Category Archives: Neely, Barbara

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

Barbara Neely. Blanche Passes Go. New York: Viking, 2000.

Blanche White is on her way back to her hometown, the fictional Farleigh, N.C., located near Durham. Blanche is going to spend the summer working for a friend’s catering company, and is sure to be busy with the months-long celebration of Farleigh’s bicentennial. But coming home is not easy. Blanche is confronted by painful memories from her past, and, finding that her detective skills have preceded her, she’s hired to investigate a prominent local family. Viewing her hometown as an African American with a strong feminist perspective, Blanche provides a refreshingly different look at the New South.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2000, 2000-2009, Neely, Barbara, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont