Blanche Cleans Up

Blanche Cleans up, Barbara Neely. P
Blanche is a middle aged lady with attitude.
She is bringing up her sister’s two children on her own, living away from her home town, and her mother, but with lots of friends in the local community.  
This book is a murder mystery – with a difference. Blanche is standing in for her friend Miz Inez, who needs to take time away from her regular job, so Blanche ends up housekeeping for a wealthy local family. Whilst Miz Inez is away, her son dies (or is murdered, we don’t know for a while) and Blanche ends up investigating. Her teenage adoptive so. Is involved with a local investigation into lead poisoning, and as the narrative progresses, it becomes clear that there are links between these two aspects of the story.  
At first, I didn’t find this an easy read, being quite far removed from my usual books, but it grew on me, and I ended up really enjoying it. The chapters each deal with a different day of the investigation, so sixteen chapters, sixteen days worth of events. Ther’s a bit of all sorts in here – more than one murder, corruption, homophobia, challenging societal expectations, passion, loss, abuse…….
There are some engaging characters, and some obnoxious ones.
The ending isn’t the one you would expect from a murder mystery – you’ll have to read it to find out, though!  
Thank you to the publishers, Brash Books, who sent me an advance copy for review.

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