cover image The Maid

The Maid

Nita Prose. Ballantine, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-35615-9

Molly Gray, the 25-year-old neurodivergent narrator of Prose’s assured debut, has sought solace in her maid’s job at the Regency Grand, a boutique hotel in an unspecified city, since the recent death of the grandmother who raised her. Molly’s uniform makes her feel invisible, which is a relief given her difficulty reading social cues, and she derives great satisfaction from returning things to a “state of perfection.” When frequent guests Charles and Giselle Black check into one of Molly’s assigned rooms, she’s pleased; though tycoon Charles is imperious, Giselle tips well and treats Molly like a friend. To her dismay, upon entering the couple’s suite, Molly discovers that Giselle is out, and Charles is dead. The police find Molly’s stoicism suspicious, and someone seems determined to make her their patsy, but Molly thankfully has more allies than she realizes. Not every twist feels earned, but on balance Prose delivers a gratifying, kindhearted whodunit with a sharply drawn protagonist for whom readers can’t help rooting. Fans of fresh takes on traditional mysteries will be delighted. Agent: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Literary (U.K.). (Jan.)