cover image The Mystery Guest: A Maid Novel

The Mystery Guest: A Maid Novel

Nita Prose. Ballantine, $29 (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-35618-0

The underwhelming follow-up to Prose’s 2022 bestseller The Maid once again centers 29-year-old Molly Gray, who has just been promoted to head maid at the five-star Regency Grand Hotel in an unnamed city. Neurodivergent Molly—whose penchant for cleanliness makes her great at her job, even though her difficulty understanding social cues sometimes gets her into trouble—gets caught up in another scandal when renowned mystery author J.D. Grimthorpe comes to the Regency Grand to make a special announcement in the recently restored Grand Tearoom. Journalists, fans, and eager hotel staff gather to hear Grimthorpe speak, only to be shocked into silence when he falls dead at the podium. Police detective Stark, who believed Molly to be a killer in the previous book, again heads up the investigation, and again suspects Molly of murder on account of her stoic demeanor (and, in this case, her proximity to Grimthorpe’s tea before he died). To clear her name, Molly launches her own investigation, which involves digging deep into her past; she used to help her late grandmother clean Grimthorpe’s mansion. After the novelist’s death, the plot lurches along, stuffed with repetition and excessively long dives into Molly’s childhood memories. Along the way, Prose packs in precious few surprises. Molly is still a well-drawn heroine, but this falls short of its predecessor. Agent: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Literary. (Nov.)