Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads 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 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. 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 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. 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?”
It was named as one of Goodreads best mysteries of 2022, so of course, I had to check The Maid: A Novel (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (AbeBooks) out. Sometimes the hype for books is better than the book itself, and I don’t have the same tastes as the general public, but I do enjoy a good mystery. I had no idea what I was getting into until after I’d read the book.
As the mother of children on the autism spectrum, I immediately noticed that Molly had some of the same traits as my high-functioning children, as it’s called but was undiagnosed. Now, I don’t have a problem with portrayals of people on the autism spectrum if it’s done with respect. The main complaint I’ve heard about this book is that Nita Prose is not on the spectrum so she shouldn’t be writing a character with those characteristics. I find this utter nonsense. If writers only wrote about what they knew personally, there would be few exciting books out there. Let’s not forget that there are tons of murder mystery writers who have never killed a person. I’m sure Prose did research, or knows someone personally on the spectrum, using some common traits for Molly. While some may find her a caricature of someone with autism, I don’t. Because as they say, when you meet one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. Each person displays different traits and characteristics. For instance, a common trait is that people with autism have a hard time making eye contact. However, because this is such a well-known trait, no one thinks my son is on the spectrum because he is great with eye contact; better than me, in fact! End of discussion.
This is the best type of unwinding murder mystery, with a great and diverse blend of characters who are explored in-depth. The fact that Molly has a great attention to details for some things, but can’t read people, is what drives the mystery. As a reader, you get frustrated as she trusts the wrong people, but with the help of the right people, they steer her in the right direction. She suffers from one of my worst fears for my kids with autism: they find themselves in police custody because they didn’t know how to read other people’s cues or blurt something out that might incriminate themselves.
The solution to the mystery wasn’t a surprise for anyone that’s dissected enough Agatha Christie novels, but still satisfying. I enjoyed the book thoroughly as a locked room mystery and find that editor-turned-author Nita Prose has done a bang-up job on her debut novel.
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