Blanche Among the Talented Tenth (Blanche White #2)

ISBN: 0140250360
ISBN 13: 9780140250367
By: Barbara Neely

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African American African American Fiction Feminism Fiction Humor Mysteries Mystery Mystery Thriller Series To Read

About this book

When Blanche White, black domestic worker extraordinaire, moved north to Boston, she thought it would be a better place to raise her kids, especially when she managed to get them both into a private school. But they appear to be getting as much attitude as education, as they start correcting Blanche's English and acting snotty about homeless people. When Blanche and the kids are invited to Amber Cove, an exclusive, all-black resort in Maine, she sees it as the perfect opportunity to observe her children with their wealthy friends and try to figure out how to stop them from becoming people she doesn't want to know. Along the way, Blanche gets an insider's view of the color and class divisions within the black community. Blanche stands out against the light-skinned, college-educated residents at Amber Cove, and some of the guests make sure she knows it - including her own daughter. But when one of the guests has a fatal accident and the godson of a famous septuagenarian feminist commits suicide, Blanche is enlisted to find out if these events are connected. What she discovers is a web of secrets that somebody may be willing to kill for, even as she meets a man determined to sweep her off her feet, no matter how much she weighs.

Reader's Thoughts


Good African American lead character. Nice story.

Floyd Webb

Wonderfully hilarious romp of a part-time recalcitrant domestic worker and private detective.

Ryan Mishap

Cozy mysteries aren't known for confronting major social issues, but Blanche isn't your average amateur sleuth. Class and race amongst modern African-americans are explored and a mystery is solved.


Not just a mystery novel but a mediattion on race and class


I could almost swear that I know Blanche. Love Blanche being herself.

Martella Nelson

Fans of Barbara Neely will love this book....another murder mystery.


4.5/B+ -- 2nd in Blanche White series. Blanche visits Amber Cove -- African-American resort in Maine. The color distinctions between light & dark skinned, the insiders & out. Blanche is to take care of her children & the 2 friends they are staying w/. Faith an insider died -- dropped radio in bath tub. Stu, the pharmacist pursues Blanche. In trying to determine whether Faith's death was accidental or murder, there are numerous secrets discovered that make various guests suspect. Very good series!

Sarah Emily

I don't really like mysteries as a genre, but this book manages to balance quick read qualities with intelligent race and class commentary. I'm entertained *and* I don't feel like my brain is atrophying.


I loved Blanche Among the Talented Tenth even more than the first book in the series, Blanche on the Lam. I wasn't quite expecting that, because the setting of the first book (rural North Carolina) is much more familiar to me than the setting of the second (an expensive black resort on the coast of Maine). But in this book we get deeper into Blanche's life and personality. The setting allows her to make more friends, spend time with the niece and nephew she's raising, and contemplate romance.As with the first book, this one didn't appeal to me as a mystery novel nearly as much as it did as a story about an awesome woman having an adventure. However, this time I was in suspense nearly the whole time about the solution.Blanche's greatest strength as a sleuth is her interpersonal relationship skills. She's excellent at making friends with people, getting them to trust her and talk to her, and figuring out what's going on among a group of people she's just met. I love reading about this because I don't have those skills, and Neely describes them in such a way that I feel like I'm learning something.Besides, at the same time Blanche is gathering clues, she's building genuine relationships with the people she finds worthy, and that's where this book is loveliest.My favorite passage comes when she's having a tête-à-tête with Tina, a young woman she's just met who wants Blanche's advice about her fiancé.Blanche could almost smell Tina's longing to talk, and she was pretty sure who Tina wanted to talk about. But Blanche wanted to know who she was talking to first."Where you from, Tina?"...She nudged Tina with gentle questions until they were casting pieces of their past into the night like lights strung together to illuminate them for each other...Heart talk, Blanche thought. Her term for the way women gave each other bits of lives and history as a way of declaring their good intentions toward each other.Later comes a scene in which Blanche and Tina are preparing dinner in Blanche's kitchen, and they shift their conversation to talk about how they decided to wear their hair naturally. This is something they want to talk about with each other, but they also know that Blanche's preteen niece, Taifa, is troubled because she's been around people who privilege straightened hair and light skin; and they know that Taifa can overhear their conversation. I'm not describing it well but this episode was exactly the sort of thing I (not a parent) like to read about parenting.I loved this book. I would have given it five stars, not four, except for one short exchange that I wish weren't there. Blanche and her friend Ardell are talking about how it's best to pay attention when Blanche senses that there's a "catch" to a man who's apparently perfect for someone -- Blanche had had this feeling about someone Ardell had once dated, who turned out to be a cross-dresser. "Ardell had told Blanche that while she wished to be big enough to handle it, she wasn't." Sure, it's okay for Ardell not to be attracted to someone, but I really wish Neely had thought of a different example of a "catch."


The second Blanche White book.


2nd in the Blanche White series. The mystery is more interesting than in Blanche on the Lam, though Blanche herself remains the star, not the plot. I particularly enjoyed seeing more of Blanche's relationship with her kids (she is raising her niece and nephew) and also the exploration of class and skin color differences within the African American community.


No actual murder! that was kind of a drag.


I'm not normally a mystery person, but this series has a protagonist with attitude and that makes it a great read...


Blanche White is a strong character. This book is part of a series of mysteries with Blanche, a cleaning woman. She goes to a resort populated by light-skinned African-Americans. Since she is very dark she has to contend not only with prejudice from the lighter guests but with her own daughter's growing awareness of color. There is a murder with many people who would like the murdered woman dead but I found it hard to keep up with who was who at times. I found it light reading but fun.

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