The Maid by Nita Prose: A review
From these quotes, you might gather that Molly has a rather simplistic view of the world and that is accurate. She is devoted to her work and was devoted to her grandmother who raised her and who was also a maid. But when we meet Molly, her grandmother had died nine months before, leaving her alone in the world. She no longer has anyone to interpret the meaning of social interactions for her and Molly badly needs that. She is very "different," possibly on the Autism spectrum although that is never stated. She admits to us at one point that she has trouble in social situations because "it's as though everyone is playing an elaborate game with complex rules they all know, but I'm playing for the first time." Perhaps we've all been in situations at one time or another in our lives where we felt like that. In other words, though Molly sees the world through her own different and simplistic lens, she is a very relatable character.
Molly's life continues on its well-established course of going to work every day. Work is her respite from a confusing world. She is not totally without friends. Mr. Preston, the doorman at the hotel, actually knew her grandmother and he tries to look out for Molly and help her negotiate the sometimes confusing demands of the world. His friendship will become especially important when Molly finds the body of a guest, Mr. Black, dead on his bed when she went to clean his room. And it was not a death from natural causes; Mr. Black was murdered.
When Molly had first gone to clean the room, Mrs. Black was in the shower and so her cleaning and her discovery of the body were delayed. Since she is unable to interpret social interactions, she never makes any connection between those two facts. She also seriously misinterprets the actions of the hotel's head bartender, Rodney Stiles, on whom she has a crush. When she does discover the body and reports it, once again she is unable to understand what is required of her or why the police would find it strange that she is so eager to get back to her cleaning. Her behavior is seen as suspicious and soon she finds herself as the prime suspect in the murder. That's when Mr. Preston and his daughter, Charlotte, who is a lawyer, come to Molly's rescue.
Of course, we know that Molly didn't kill anybody and we may be able to suss out pretty quickly who did, but Molly doesn't because she doesn't pick up on cues and this novel is really about her and not so much the mystery of the murder. Molly always takes things at face value. She isn't able to interpret, but taking things at face value actually turns out to be one of her strengths and it ultimately allows her to assist the police in their inquiries and to catch a killer.
Nita Prose never indicates where the Regency Grand is located, but the novel - especially the portrayal of the grandmother - has quite a British flavor and since she lives in Toronto, it seems likely that is the location of her hotel. It never really makes a difference as far as the action is concerned, I guess, but I just like to be able to assign a location. This story that starts out as a murder mystery is actually a delicate character study of a unique personality and the personal growth of that person when faced with difficult circumstances. Molly the maid is a wonderful character and a credit to her creator. I have no idea if the writer has any plans to write further adventures for her, but I would certainly read any book that featured her.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars