Publication Date: January 4, 2022
Publisher: Ballantine Books
This book is marketed as being “Clue-like” and as much as I enjoyed this book (I gave it five stars!) this isn’t that at all. There are no secret passageways and the murder takes place in a busy, affluent hotel in the middle of a large city where the suspect list could have been literally anyone who walked through the doors. In spite of not having any of the elements that I ascribe to Clue (which is my favorite movie/game/trope) The Maid shines on all on its own with a brilliant premise that is wonderfully executed
The real standout of this book is our narrator, Molly, who’s diagnosis is never explicitly stated in the story, but she is neurodivergent and lives by a certain set of rules that her recently deceased Grandma helped her create. Molly loves her job as a maid at one of the nicest hotels in the city and thrives on the order and the action of keeping things clean. Over the course of her time working she has become friendly with a few members of the staff and some of the guests who are frequent visitors to the hotel. One day Molly is going through her rotation of rooms when she discovers one of the wealthy guests, Mr. Black, dead in his bed. Due to different circumstances Molly finds herself in and the police not understanding that Molly reacts the world differently, she is almost immediately suspect number one.
Molly’s way of experiencing and interpreting the world are the driving force of the novel and it creates such an interesting opportunity for the reader to see not only the way she sees the world but for us to see all the things that Molly isn’t seeing or picking up on. The way Prose told this story was so unique and gives an already likable character more humanity and heart than what is normally seen in a mystery novel. I never expected to cry reading this but the last third of this book really amped up the emotion and this might be the one mystery that can be read numerous times purely for love of the protagonist.
Molly is hands down the best part of this book but the mystery is also an interesting and engaging one. Despite not having the promised locked room aspect, or even closed circle, there were a few people that were the most likely suspects, although it lacked the tension the aforementioned would have had. I enjoyed seeing all the the different pieces of the story come together and the resolution was well done.
I’m blown away that this is Prose’s debut novel and I’m excited to see what she comes up with in the future. Equally exciting is that this has been optioned for a movie and one of my favorite actresses, Florence Pugh, is playing Molly. I recommend this book to any mystery fan who is looking for a different twist to the age ol’ whodunnit.