The book market is absolutely flooded with murder mystery novels, and always has been. There is something that fascinates us about these grisly cases, mysterious characters, and intrigue.
On top of that, many of us love trying to solve the mystery ourselves, getting an extra jolt of satisfaction if we correctly nail the killer.
However, with so many murder mystery novels on the market, it can be difficult to narrow them down.
Let’s be honest, some of them just aren’t going to provide a sturdy enough mystery, or a compelling time with engaging twists and turns.
The Maid, a novel by Nita Prose, is one of the most popular murder mystery books of recent times.
It’s entertained plenty of readers around the world, with its fascinating hotel-set murder mystery and a determined maid at the center of it.
As you can guess from its positive reception, this is one of the murder mystery novels that you can depend on!
But what makes it so good? You can find out all about it in our detailed review.
The Maid – Synopsis
Before we get started on what makes The Maid a special murder mystery, it’s owrth setting out the plot for you.
Molly Gray is the maid of the title, a young woman who works at the fancy Regency Grand Hotel.
Molly is a character quite apart from others, especially the types that you might expect to find at the center of a murder mystery story (If you like murder mystery stories, check out The Name Of The Rose).
She’s somebody who struggles with being sociable, finding difficulty in social interactions and often misreading other people’s intentions.
Her grandmother used to help her with this, making the world a much simpler and clear place for Molly to understand.
However, her grandmother has recently died, and now Molly must make her own way in the world – whether her social skills allow her or not.
Just twenty five years old, Molly decides to cope by throwing herself into her job. With her maid job at the Regency Grand Hotel, she has her fair share of daily tasks, and the job is a perfect match for her character.
Since she is obsessive about cleanliness and neatness, being a maid is the perfect job, because she gets to tidy up all sorts of rooms around the fancy establishment.
Only the hotel is about to become a little less neat.
One day on the job, Molly enters the suite of a very wealthy guest, Charles Black. She finds the room in a complete mess and the famous guest dead in bed.
Naturally, Molly is completely shocked. Also naturally, she becomes the prime suspect in the case. To the police, this efficient maid is a key culprit, especially since she is the first to find the body of this wealthy man.
It’s a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for Molly, and she needs to find answers – otherwise she’ll get arrested herself. But who is the real killer? And why did they kill Charles Black?
Thankfully, Molly finds herself getting help from people she doesn’t really know, who help her search for clues as to the real murderer.
Well, she doesn’t really have the time to find out, as time is running out and they need answers fast.
On top of that, Molly isn’t the most socially skilled person to begin with, so this new situation – where she must rely on the help of others – is particularly testing her.
Will she step up the challenge? Will her unique personality actually prove to be helpful? The answers, along with plenty of thrilling turns, are waiting in this enthralling mystery.
Better yet, it has no shortage of heart, being a true test of a young woman’s spirit and resilience.
One of the biggest successes of The Maid is that of its main character, Molly. She is the maid of the title and her tale is one of representation and inspiration.
After all, when we stay at a hotel, do we often think of the maids? If you think back to the last time you stayed at a hotel for the night, you probably didn’t spare a thought for the cleaning staff.
Instead, most of us will simply come back to our room, find it immaculate again, and think little of it.
However, the maids and cleaning staff of hotels spend so much time tidying up our rooms, but do it all behind the scenes.
This causes them to be quite neglected in society, left unseen and un-thought about. Molly is one of these people, and her sudden place at the center of a major murder is an instance of bringing these essential staff to the fore.
Better yet, her determined quest for answers elevates her as much more than her job, reminding us even more that these people who work for us behind the scenes are determined, brave, smart, and so much more.
A Fascinating Lead Character
Molly’s character is also a fascinating one, for a number of reasons.
Her lack of social skills make her stick out as an outsider from the very start of the book, which makes her particularly endearing as a main character.
Rather than being a flawless murder mystery solver, she’s just a regular person who finds themselves thrown into the thick of a mystery, and is under an immense time pressure to get the answers.
Typical murder mystery books will have detectives or police officers, whose lives revolve around solving such mysteries.
When the character is just a regular person like Molly, it makes the character a lot more relatable to the audience, because we can imagine being thrust into her place just as easily.
On top of that, it’s a great chance for a character to go out of their comfort zone and really step up to the plate. This makes their journey a lot more interesting, and we enjoy seeing them rise to the challenge and grow as a person.
Given Molly’s social difficulties, it’s great to see her grow in confidence, as she is forced to interact with more people and deal with situations she wouldn’t normally be in.
This is extra touching to us readers when we consider her recently deceased grandmother, who was her guide through the social challenges of the world.
By the end of the novel, we know that Molly has acted in ways that would make her gran very proud indeed.
A Gripping Mystery
Of course, another key appeal of The Maid is the gripping mystery at its center.
A murder mystery is one of the classic genres of book, because they offer enthralling narratives packed with twists and turns, big reveals, and a varied cast of intriguing (and sometimes unlikable) characters.
It’s always a joy to experience the mystery unfolding just as it unfolds for the main character, but it’s especially enjoyable when the lead character isn’t a seasoned detective.
Molly is as inexperienced with solving crimes as we are, making her perfectly relatable.
On top of the thrill of a twisty mystery, readers also get the excitement of trying to solve the mystery themselves.
We can pick up clues just as Molly does, and spend time assembling them in our own minds before returning to the book.
This is one of the biggest thrills you can get when reading, and the amount of satisfaction you’ll get if you manage to solve the mystery before the characters is second to none!
The Maid is the debut novel from writer Nita Prose. It seems fitting that Prose should be writing, well, prose! However, she’s actually had a long history in the world of books to begin with, before putting pen to paper herself.
Prose has had a career as a longtime book editor, working with many bestselling authors on a host of well-regarded books.
This puts her in the perfect position to write a book of her own, because she has spent so long refining the words of others and learning from their own novels.
It’s no surprise, then, that The Maid is a well written and well structured mystery. The novel is narrated in first person by Molly, which is an effective choice of narration, because it throws us right into her thoughts.
This helps us to connect even more with this outsider, willing her to prove everyone that she is so much more than a socially awkward person who tidies behind the scenes.
Prose’s writing brings the hotel to life, with detailed descriptions of the characters who come in and out of it, the rooms, and her cleaning duties.
It immerses us in Molly’s world and makes it believable, which proves effective when that world is then thrown into chaos and mystery.
The Maid by Nita Prose is an impressive, engaging murder mystery.
The lead, Molly, is an empathetic outsider who must step out of her comfort zone and solve this intriguing mystery. You’ll keep turning the pages, desperate to find the culprit!