Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Maid by Nita Prose

Title: The Maid
Author: Nita Prose
Publication: Ballantine Books, hardcover, 2022
Genre: Mystery
Setting: New York
Description: Molly, 25, is extremely literal and often misses the social cues others juggle easily. When her grandmother was alive, she helped Molly navigate the world. Without her, Molly is grateful for her job as a maid at the Regency Grand hotel, where she takes pride in cleaning the rooms but is barely surviving financially. The hotel manager, Mr. Snow, is wary of her, and housekeeper Cheryl cares more about stealing Molly’s tips than maintaining cleaning standards.  Molly’s only friends are Mr. Preston the doorman and Manuel the dishwasher but will that be enough when she is accused of murdering a guest?

My Impression: Molly’s tunnel vision about being the perfect maid and her inability to accurately assess the people around her has made her extremely vulnerable – she is being manipulated by someone who pretends to be her friend and is oblivious to the criminal activity going on around her. Thus, when she is framed for a murder, she has no idea how to defend herself and every innocent remark makes her seem increasingly guilty.
Detective Stark is listening carefully. She zeroes in on my every word.

“Let me ask you something,” she says. “Does it ever make you angry? Being a maid, I mean? Cleaning up after rich people? Taking care of their messes?”

I’m impressed by this line of questioning. This is not what I was expecting at all when I was escorted here.

“Yes,” I answer truthfully. “I do sometimes feel angry. Especially when guests are careless. When they forget that their actions have an impact on others, when I’m treated like I don’t matter.”

Detective Stark says nothing. Her elbows remain on the table, which continues to grate on my nerves even though it’s only officially a breach of etiquette when there’s a meal being served.

“Now let me ask you a question,” I say. “Does it ever bother you?”

“Does what every bother me?”

“Cleaning up after rich people. Taking care of their messes,” I say.

The detective pulls back as though I’ve sprouted the head of Hydra and one hundred serpents are hissing in her face. What pleases me, though, is that her elbows are no longer on the table.
At first, I found Molly’s character so pathetic I couldn’t enjoy the story. Molly reminded me a lot of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which I liked a lot and I think also had an autistic heroine (although Eleanor had suffered from abuse as well). However, once Molly starts to assert herself and try to figure out what is happening, she stopped being such a victim. At that point, I was better able to appreciate all the quirky characters and the untangling of the murder and enjoyed the book. However, don’t go into it expecting a traditional cozy, locked room mystery - as the publisher promises - this is more a story of Molly finding herself and learning how to cope with coworkers, enemies, and even friends.
Source: Library.  This is my thirteenth book for Carol's 2022 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge


Jeanne said...

I really enjoyed this one because it was a little different. But I went into it knowing that the protagonist wasn't your usual kind of detective (see my review on May 24, 2022).

TracyK said...

This is a great review, Constance. I have this book and want to read it soon. The reason I bought it was because the main character is very different. I think I will enjoy it.

Lark said...

This is another book high on my TBR list. Great review! :)