Blanche Cleans Up

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9780140277470: Blanche Cleans Up

Tart-tongued and shrewd, Blanche is unique in the field of amateur sleuths: a queen-sized, middle-aged black woman rooted in working-class America. In her latest adventure Blanche gets suckered into standing in as cook-housekeeper to Allister Brindle, a Boston Brahmin politician, and his do-gooder wife. Blanche is quickly enmeshed in a scandal that moves from the Brindles' house (a.k.a. Prozac House) to her own black community as she tries to figure out the truth behind the death of a young black man. Hot on the trail, she encounters a love triangle with bent angles, teen pregnancy, phony spirituality, and at least one person who doesn't mean her any good.

In Blanche, Barbara Neely has created a heroine to cheer for--and Blanche Cleans Up will thrill not only ardent Blanche fans and mystery buffs, but also anyone eager to explore a new neighborhood with a feisty, funny black woman as their guide.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Good thing Blanche White's housekeeping stint for right-wing gubernatorial hopeful Allister Brindle (a would-be politician who doesn't know anything about the Massachusetts electorate) is only temporary. Blanche, not one to suffer fools gladly, has already stuck her sharp elbow into visiting Rev. Maurice Samuelson's rib after hearing his perfidious promise to deliver the Uncle Toms and Aunt Jemimas in his flock to Brindle, and she's connived with Ray-Ray Brown, the unwelcome son of the Brindles' regular housekeeper, to keep quiet about a menacing note he's delivered to Brindle. But Blanche's position in the household is still more secure than that of Felicia Brindle's sculpted personal trainer, Saxe Winton, or of Ray-Ray himself. Both of them are murdered, with more corpses still in the offing, as Brindle and his cohorts work themselves into a frenzy over a compromising videotape unlikely to endear him to the conservative voters he's counting on. It's a case that plays beautifully to the strengths Blanche showed in her first two novels (Blanche Among the Talented Tenth, 1994, etc.): poking around, getting underfoot, and displaying maximum attitude as she solves the tiny mystery en route to sticking it to the Man. The title says it all. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

Blanche White--she does not brook snide comments about her name--is definitely the working woman's heroine, and the only thing that is domesticated about her is the work she does. Queen-sized, sensible about her own dignity and that of others, Blanche can read the Boston homes she cleans like the open books they are. But when she pinch-hits for the cook of a local politico's family, she sees Mr. Brindle's wife's brittle sorrow and a son's estrangement. When the cook's son is killed, and other deaths follow in Blanche's Roxbury neighborhood, the strands connecting them lead back to the Brindles' house. Blanche does her work and methodically goes about resolving what turns out to be several murders tied to scandal, sex, and heartbreak. She does it all while raising her teenage niece and nephew as her own, trying to keep their hopes and their future safe. Blanche's voice is sassy and sexy, and her take on urban life through African American eyes is blade-sharp and sometimes as cutting. GraceAnne A. DeCandido

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