Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely
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.
Moderated by Carole Shmurak, author of 11 books and Professor Emerita at Central Connecticut State University. To participate, contact Carole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The May book was incorrectly given as Hot Pink Farmhouse. This is June's title. We apologize for any inconvenience!
Spring 2021: Black Noir and Blanche White
The first African-American detective in fiction was Dr. John Archer, in the novel The Conjure-Man Dies (1932) by Rudolph Fisher. Dr. Archer appeared in only one short story after that, and Fisher died in 1934. It took another 25 years for the next black detectives: Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson, in Chester Himes’s A Rage in Harlem (1958). Female African-American detectives didn’t appear until the 1990s, with Nikki Baker, Eleanor Taylor Brand, and Barbara Neely all publishing their first detective novels in 1991–92. This spring, we’ll consider five authors, two white and three black, whose detectives are African-American.