Mystery on the Spectrum: The Maid by Nita Prose

The simplest way to explain The Maid, by Nita Prose? Like an onion, this mystery’s protagonist has a lot of layers.

I’ve got mixed feelings about this hotel mystery about an orphan maid, clearly on the spectrum, who’s accused of murdering one of her establishment’s regular guests.

It’s personal to me, but sometimes encountering these kinds of characters is a struggle because you don’t know how much the author is or is not trying to stay true to their character’s challenges. And I live this. Every day. So, I want people to get it right and I can forget, it’s different for everyone, so there’s that.

And in this case, it took me a long time to warm up to Molly, who’s clearly a force of good, but because of her (my armchair diagnosis) OCD and autistic tendencies, can also come off initially as wildly irritating.

I would only ask readers this — if you find yourself in the same spot, thinking, “She’s driving me nuts, why am I reading this?” — then hang in there until the second half of the book, where the pace picks up like a rocket ship. And the time you’ve spent becoming acquainted with Molly begins to pay off.

Because the plot twist isn’t the whodunit — it’s the reason Molly is able to look the other way.

Most readers are going to pick up on the “why” behind hotel guest Mr. Black’s demise, and to some extent, adjacently, the “who.” He’s not a good man, and that’s not giving anything away. Black frequents the Regency Grand with his second wife, Giselle, whom Molly considers one of her friends. One of her only friends. Giselle, hotel dishwasher Juan Manuel, and Rodney, the barkeep and the man who makes Molly’s heart flutter — these are her only friends.

Without any family since the death of her beloved grandmother, Molly is an easy target and with what looks like a limited intellectual capacity, very easy to take advantage of. It’s too bad the bad guys didn’t peel back a few of Molly’s layers. Because there’s a lot more depth there than presented in the first half of the book.

One additional side benefit from this mystery? I now want to clean my house top to bottom. And I kinda dig the idea of wiping shoes off as you put them away in the closet.

The Maid is a quick read and should keep you entertained over a cold, wintry weekend, or if you are lucky, a flight to somewhere warm — in which case, I am intensely jealous of you. Enjoy, and remember, even the people you think aren’t capable …. they’re capable.

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