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Blanche on the Lam: 10/15/22
Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely and Lisa Reneé Pitts (Narrator) (1992) is the first book in the Blanche White mystery series. Blanche ends up in the employ of a murderer when she flees from an unfair prison sentence for a bounced check.
The murder takes place in the family's summer house. She's oddly the only domestic taken to this second location, the regulars given time off. She's working for a timid acting woman (Grace), her snobbish husband (Everett), a man with Down's Syndrome (Mumsfield), and a drunk elderly woman (Emmeline). Before anything even happens, Blanche knows something is off with this family.
Soon, though, Blanche is facing news of multiple murders and she knows one of her employers did it. She's also stuck, though, because of her circumstances, and because she's Black. Her only ally is Mumsfield, who like Blanche is essentially invisible due to his disability. He, though, is just as observant as Blanche and together they're able to identify the murderer.
Blanche on the Lam feels really dated and I kept having to remind myself, that it is a thirty-year-old mystery. It's natural for it to feel dated. The biggest difference is Blanche's reliance on the phone in her employers' kitchen as this is a decade before the ubiquitous cellphone. There's also no internet — no way for her to research her employer or call for an Uber if she needs to escape. She's essentially trapped and left to her own wits and strength to save herself.
The second book is Blanche Among the Talented Tenth (1994).