Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Book Review: The Maid by Nita Prose

Coming in January of 2022 is The Maid, the debut novel by Nita Prose. I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the galley in exchange for an honest review.

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Since her Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating 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. But Molly's orderly life is upended 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 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.

The author has a very clean and clear writing style, perfect for a story such as this. She keeps the story moving. Where this becomes a minus is that the characters tend to be very simply constructed without too much unexpected. Even the last names reflect this: Gray, Green, Black, and Snow. The blandness is offset by a few diverse characters, but even they are by-the-book stereotypes.

The protagonist Molly is a bit more complex but that is by design based upon her social challenges. What struck me is that for a twenty-five year old she seemed to come across as very "old". Maybe that was due to being raised by her grandmother and not having many peers her own age. Still, that all threw me off as the story went. Also confusing is Molly's strict adherence to rules in order to fit in, yet she so blantantly violates the rules when it is needed for this story to unfold. I feel this, and other reasons, makes her a very unreliable narrator.

Some early review compare this book to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I can see the similarities and how perhaps the former inspired this book. I found the former had more charm and character in its characters. As for tagging this as a mystery, while there is murder and question of whodunit, I found it more in line with a 70's police show (ala Columbo, Molly andher Gran's favorite) rather than a modern day thriller.

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