By Nita Prose
The Maid engaged my interest from page 1 and kept it. We have a murder mystery, many interesting characters, a bit of a love story, some surprising plot developments, and an interesting twist at the end, which I was waiting for and had kind of given up on. Let’s just say when I came to it I went scurrying back to the scene of the crime. But the star of the book is the character of Molly, who tells us her story in her unique voice. She has trouble interacting with people because she is “on the spectrum.” As she explains, “It’s as though everyone is playing an elaborate game with complex rules they all know, but I’m always playing for the first time.”
Molly is a maid at the prestigious Regency Grand Hotel. She is alone in the world, is in precarious financial straits, and, now that her beloved Gran has died, she is misunderstood by everyone in her small world except for one person. But Molly is very very good at what she does and loves her job. She likes that there is a rule book for conduct, which she follows to the letter. In addition, she is obsessed with cleanliness. She revels in turning her guest rooms “to a state of perfection.” Mr. Snow, who is her boss appreciates her outstanding work, and a regular guest at the hotel, Giselle Black, treats her with kindness. As does Mr. Preston, the doorman. Most everyone else either overlooks her, (because she’s just a maid), takes advantage of her, laughs at her, or treats her with contempt. As Molly tells us her story, we see her world as it is, and how Molly thinks it is. This dual perspective is the source of humor as well as poignancy.
We get to know and become invested in Molly and her narrow little world. She tells us almost right off the bat that, today, she found a guest dead in his bed. In time, we learn he was murdered and Molly becomes a suspect. As we learn why the eyes of the officer in charge, Detective Stark, have turned toward Molly, the reader becomes very worried if not horrified. At least, I was. I felt very protective of Molly and cared about her welfare. How will she navigate the dangerous position she finds herself in? To me, the book is divided into two halves. The first half is before she finds friends who believe her and support her. This half is tinged with tension, distress, and dread. In the second half, after she is rescued by her friends, we know everything is going to be all right. But even then, there is lots more to go in the book. We still have a murder mystery to be solved, a criminal to catch, justice to be served, lessons to be learned, a love story to develop, and a future to be mapped out. We even have a surprising courtroom scene. By the end of the book, Molly has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. We are not worried about her anymore. Molly can take care of herself.
November 29, 2021
Thank-You to Net Galley and Ballentine Books for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.