An interesting take on the classic murder mystery, with Molly the Maid, an amateur sleuth no one would have expected. Editor turned writer, Nita Prose, introduces ‘a truly original heroine’…
I read about this new release from fellow mystery bloggers and wanted to check it out for myself. Described on the inside cover as ‘escapist and charming,’ where ‘the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s found in the dirtier, grey areas in between.’…could The Maid live up to all of the hype?
We join Molly, an unassuming maid at the five-star boutique Regency Grand Hotel, busy doing her daily cleaning rounds – refreshing toiletries, straightening shoes, making beds and plumping pillows. She tells us of the life of a maid, sharing what she finds in the rooms, the dirt and grime, and how she leaves the rooms pristine, ‘as though all of your filth, all of your lies and deceits, have been erased’ – I think back to how I have left hotel rooms in the past…yikes! (I hang my head thinking of the mess!).
It is written in first person, with Molly introducing herself, talking directly to us in a very chatty, informal tone – Molly’s matter-of-factness, shown through Nita Prose’s writing style, is enjoyable and engaging, adding a sense of intimacy and closeness with the main character, particularly when she talks about both her Gran’s death and how she struggles in social situations. I was immediately on her side, rooting for her, and she really got me thinking about how maids can be so often taken for granted or ignored.
This particular Monday morning, where the story starts, is different from all of her other days at work however, as whilst she is cleaning rooms in the hotel, she discovers the dead body of powerful and infamous Mr Black lying in his bed in the penthouse suite – a mess which can not be wiped away! We then follow Molly, the amateur sleuth, on her journey to catch Mr Black’s cold-bloodied killer and find out the truth before it’s too late – it is definitely a bumpy ride.
I really warmed to Molly as she is not the typical ‘detective’ within a whodunnit and is a refreshing change to the know-it-all sleuth we often find in murder mysteries – she is invisible, a nobody – the least you would expect from the lead protagonist in a story. She is extremely naive, and very black and white in her approach. From the off, people are rude to her because she is different, socially awkward and takes everything literally; they often take advantage of her sweet nature, manipulating her into doing things which she should not do, much to my dismay. Many times I would sigh, wanting to reach inside the book and shout, ‘Open your eyes Molly!’; however, this just added to my longing for her to succeed and I couldn’t help but fall in love with her ‘can-do’ attitude and positive, yet humble, outlook (wanting to return things to ‘a state of perfection’) even when faced with adversity and good-for-nothings.
There are added quirks and humour throughout, which add to the character’s likeability and help the story flow, and as it progresses, you find out more about her past experiences outside of work, both positive and negative, which add depth to the character and help her come to life.
I enjoyed the lavish hotel setting – the rich descriptions of the sparkling lobby and the gorgeous bedroom suites, contrasting beautifully with the dingy hotel kitchens and corridors, really do immerse you into Molly’s world and help you understand the contrast in class apparent in the story. This paired with the other main setting in the story – her simple and unassuming flat shared until recently with her late grandma – help you to further understand Molly’s background.
The characters’ leanings are fairly easy to spot from the off, with the naivety of Molly contrasting with the slimy intentions of the ‘bad eggs’. Whilst I questioned one of the main character’s intentions, who had been presented as a helpful friend, assuming the worst (possibly from my experience of other murder mysteries!), to my relief, they did in fact help Molly through the ordeal. It was lovely to see how Molly’s relationships grew and flourished with some of the other characters, and as she began to trust them, in turn, they were instrumental in helping her in the mystery – some may find this too ‘happy ever after’ however.
The Maid is in essence an easy read, a heart-warming page-turner, with what I initially thought was a predictable but pleasing ending (the solution to the murder itself felt simple and easy to piece together without too much brain power), until the very end however, where Nita Prose pulls something out of the bag and blows me away!
The book cover says, ‘You don’t see her. But she sees you…’ – I can’t wait to see what happens next to our faithful heroine. Let’s hope Nita Prose writes a sequel!
Check out Nita Prose’s website for more information on The Maid, to read an extract and also to purchase a copy.