Barbara Neely’s Blanche White mysteries help make a traditionally conservative genre a vehicle for exploring social ills—especially those with racial implications—and for analyzing American cultural attitudes and practices. Each book in this series focuses on a different social problem, beginning in Blanche on the Lam (1992) with the impact of racial stereotypes and class prejudices. Neely’s second book, Blanche Among the Talented Tenth (1994), explores the psychological and social impacts of Western standards of beauty, especially the color hierarchy among African Americans; the plot of her next book, Blanche Cleans Up (1998), concerns political corruption, homophobia, and environmental issues; the fourth, Blanche Passes Go (2000), exposes the frequency and emotional consequences of physical abuse of women. In all her works Neely shows the relatedness of race, class, and gender issues. Neely’s Blanche White was a landmark character when she first hit the scene: Not only was she one of the few female African American protagonists in a mystery series, but she also was one of the few sleuths who reflected a working-class perspective. Blanche’s persona as an outspoken, politically savvy lower-class black woman was an instant success with readers.