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As a trailblazer for women of color in the crime genre, Barbara Neely is widely credited with creating one of the first mainstream mystery series to feature a Black female detective protagonist: the spunky maid and amateur sleuth Blanche White. In Blanche Passes Go, the thrilling fourth installment of Neely’s Blanche White series, the namesake protagonist returns from Boston to her North Carolina hometown for an unforgettable summer. While her homecoming means a reunion with her best friend and a burgeoning romance with a handsome widower, it also triggers painful memories of the rape that drove her from town years earlier. But when a mysterious murder appears to point back to Blanche’s rapist, she embarks on an investigation of her own that uncovers uncomfortable truths about not only the death, but the secrets in her past. With its measured balance of intrigue with romance, Neely’s homecoming tale, published in 2000, sparkles with charm and wit, making it the most enjoyable installment of the four book series. —Cady Lang

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