Blanche Passes Go
Book 4 in the Blanche White series
Author Barbara Neely
Narrated by Lisa Reneé Pitts
Published by: Tantor Media
Publication date Nov 12, 2019
Running time 12 hrs 20 min
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. https://tantor.com/blanche-passes-go-barbara-neely.html
There are a lot of levels to this book, and it’s well written, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as prior books in the series because it made me uncomfortable in its message abyt sleuths. There are two themes: Violence against women, and how an amateur detective is not always right or less biased. It’s the first time I came up against the idea that the amateur is worse than wrong, is not always a heroine.
And the violence against women part is timely: about belief, reporting, standing up for each other. And, it’s about what can happen if we don’t report it and decide to take justice into one’s own hands. Tying this into the bad decisions it’s about what can happen if we don’t report what occurred. Also, there are questions about whether Blanche can go back to her hometown, to her friends and family. She’s done a lot, tasted a different world.
There’s a lovely romantic relationship and Blanche’s past almost puts her off him — she has to come clean with herself to be able to love again. I didn’t feel however that at the end, Blanche’s personal reckoning was enough soul deep enough. As always in this series there’s a race relations element. And, even in the 80s when this is placed there was plenty of Sons of the Confederacy crap still going on. And, Neely points out violence against women is perpetrated on women of every color. But, for black women, it’s a second thing to make yo a target.
Lisa Renee Pitts has grown on me. At first I felt I was being read to in a “story hour” way, but in this she seems to do more with the characters.
All in all, this is a mystery series with depth and a lot of twists; even when I knew part of the mystery, another part surprised me. This one takes Blanche down a notch in one way, but in another way it helps her advance. She also learns stuff about her mother and friends that explains much about her past.
If you like to have a cozy that makes you a little uncomfortable, and makes you think, then this is a good choice for you.
About the Author (no author website): https://aalbc.com/authors/author.php?author_name=Barbara+Neely