“It was always so hot, and everyone was so polite, and everything was all surface but underneath it was like a bomb waiting to go off. I always felt that way about the South, that beneath the smiles and southern hospitality and politeness were a lot of guns and liquor and secrets.” ― James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother
Ahh, the “New South.” Where the ancestral mansions were built by slaves, and the moneyed want to forget that their wealth was built on the efforts of “slavers, Indian-killers, Confederate generals, and diehard segregationists. Of course, they still occasionally named their sons Braxton and Zebulon, in honor of their Confederate slaver ancestors . . . and they still didn’t invite their string of mulatto relatives with the same looks and last name to sit down at the family table.”
Yep. Pretty much the same “Old South” I grew up on. And when pretty much the first thing Blanche sees when she returns to Farleigh, North Carolina is one of the privileged white trying to rape a black catering waitress in the family mansion, Blanche knows one thing. Underneath it all? The South is still the “Old South” just like before she left and moved to Boston. She left Farleigh after her own rape by a rich white man, David Palmer, but she is back now, her sister’s children, Taifa and Malik now raised and out on their own. It is time to come home, to work with her childhood friend Ardell in her catering business, Carolina Catering.
“Half of it’s yours whenever you’re ready,” Ardell had told her.
So, Blanche is back. And whom should she run into but David Palmer – the rich, entitled, knife wielding rapist. And all the pain and humiliation, the terror and boiling rage, come slamming back. David Palmer. He’s back in Farleigh with his wife and children, his wealth and old family history.
Terror. Panic. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on steroids. “He’d already killed the woman she’d been before he raped her.” Of course, Blanche can’t get back at him to his face. The police would never listen to a black woman’s story about a white man. But surely her Ancestors will point the way.
And then, the possibility for payback falls right into her lap. But sometimes, payback is a bitch. A deadly, cruel bitch with a wicked sense of humour.
I have to admit, I let my timing fall off on Blanche’s story. I simply couldn’t get into it at first. But once I finally sat down and started reading, I discovered something. This is a really, really good book. Blanche is not your ‘typical’ heroine. Fifty years old, blue-black, size-sixteen and going gray, Blanch is one tough cookie. Someone I would love to emulate in my own life. She has had it far from easy in her life, but she keeps going, keeps moving, keeps doing what she wants no matter what anyone else says. That is something to admire, an attitude to strive for.
This is apparently the fifth of the Blanche White Mystery Series, and I will be adding the others to my teetering piles of to-be-read. I won’t get to them right away, but when I do get to them I think I will be glad I did.
I received Blanche Passes Go from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.