Monday, February 20, 2023

REVIEW: The Maid (book) by Nita Prose

The Maid is a mystery novel. I bought my copy new.


It's never stated in the book, but Molly Gray is probably autistic and certainly neurodivergent. She has trouble with social cues and frequently misunderstands people when their words or facial expressions don't match up with what they actually mean. She follows rules well and absolutely loves her job as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. She gets satisfaction out of returning rooms to a "state of perfection."

Molly's grandmother used to explain the things she didn't understand, but after Gran dies, Molly has no one. Yes, Mr. Preston at the hotel is always very kind, as are the hotel manager, Mr. Snow, and several of Molly's fellow maids, but it isn't the same. It doesn't help that Molly is now constantly near financial ruin - she can barely afford to pay the rent on the apartment she and Gran used to share.

The Blacks are frequent guests at the Regency Grand, and Molly has returned to their room to finish cleaning up when she discovers Mr. Black dead in his bed, with the crushed remnants of his newest wife's pills on the floor beside him. Molly reports the body. Unfortunately, her odd behavior, some misplaced trust, and an unfortunate promise results in Molly becoming the prime suspect in Mr. Black's murder.

I don't think this was marketed as a cozy mystery, but that's basically what it is. I didn't realize that immediately, and maybe if I had it would have made certain events less stressful. If a bad situation could be misinterpreted, Molly generally managed it. Luckily, almost everyone (except Detective Stark) was able to figure this out, or there's at least one scene in which Molly might have gotten hurt or killed.

Although Molly is only 25, she spent most of her time with her grandmother growing up and, as a result, picked up a lot of her grandmother's interests and ways of speaking. It was easy to forget that she wasn't a few decades older. I generally liked Molly, but reading about her was anxiety-inducing. Especially anytime Rodney was involved. Ugh, Rodney. You'd think after Wilbur, Molly would have been a bit more wary. I suppose Rodney's warning signs were different from Wilbur's, but still.

I don't know that I'd call Molly an amateur sleuth. Many of the things she uncovered just sort of happened to her, and she often didn't understand the significance of what she'd seen or experienced until later, when the incredibly reassuring and competent Charlotte joined the story and helped her pick apart and put together all the relevant pieces. That said, Molly did have some surprises up her sleeves. I'll admit that the big one at the end kind of annoyed me - since we were generally so much in Molly's thoughts, it felt kind of like cheating.

Overall, despite my issues with the ending, I liked this. I liked Molly and was glad that things didn't go as badly for her as it seemed like they might.

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