Audiobook Review: The Maid by Nita Prose

A charmingly eccentric hotel maid discovers a guest murdered in his bed. Solving the mystery will turn her once orderly world upside down in this utterly original debut.

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misinterprets the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has had to navigate life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is turned on its head the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself very dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart. 

I’m not much of a mystery reader these days but I do end up picking up a couple every year just to keep in touch with the genre. When I saw the cover for this book, I was immediately tempted because I can’t resist gorgeous red covers. And the title and the minimalist style also intrigued me. As soon as I got my hands on the audiobook, I picked it up immediately. And this was unexpectedly fun.

This was surprisingly easy to read and I breezed through the whole thing in just a few hours. I alternated between the ebook and audio and I loved the experience of that. The author makes the choice to narrate this whole story in a single first person POV and while it could have backfired if not done properly, I think it was executed pretty well. This is kind of a locked room mystery and while there is some focus on finding the culprit, I will say that it’s not the main focus of the novel. The mystery aspects are pretty simplistic, we can easily latch onto a few characters as possible perpetrators, but the author also manages to surprise us with some last minute revelations. I also loved the unexpected found family trope which only enhances the kind of cozy vibes that this whole book is going for.

Molly is the one who’s POV we are listening to exclusively. So your enjoyment of the book will depend on how much you like her. She is a maid, who loves her job, gets immense satisfaction when she sees the meticulous cleaning she has done, but also realizes that she is mostly invisible to others both due to her “lowly” job as well as her personality. It’s never named but she is definitely neurodivergent, unsure how to navigate social situations or understand body language, is very meticulous and straightforward, is not good at judging people but is capable of some deception because that’s how she is able to cope in her interactions with others. I was sad at her naïveté many times when I could see she was being lied to and would get into trouble later, but I was also amazed at how much she valued the people who acknowledged her and didn’t treat her as if she was invisible. She really keeps her grief and her resentments close to her chest and does what she thinks is best. She may not respond to situations like what we would expect but I think the author does a good job reiterating that it doesn’t make her any less or weird and that she deserves all the respect and dignity, just like any human.

There are many side characters here, some mysterious, some sweet and nice, some sly and sinister and others just going through life the best way they can. I don’t want to say more about them because looking at them through Molly’s eyes and understanding them in a way that she cannot is one of the best parts of the book.

In the end, this was pretty fun. For a murder mystery, it is more focused on the main character and the way she goes about in life and that may not be the cup of tea for more seasoned readers of the genre. But if you are looking for more of cozy vibes, interesting ensemble, a quirky main character and a breezy read, do go for it. I would also recommend the audiobook because the narrator succeeds very well in ensuring that we understand Molly as a person and not just a caricature, narrating her with care and earnestness.

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