The Maid

Ballantine. Jan. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9780593356159. $27. M
DEBUT Twenty-five-year-old Molly Gray loves cleaning at the Regency Grand Hotel. But she’s socially awkward, and other employees bully her, even calling her Roomba. Until now, she’s had her gran to help explain her mistakes in reading body language. But now that her grandmother is dead, there’s no one to explain why the police are upset when she finds the body of a hotel guest, Mr. Black, dead in his bed. What mistake did she make by cleaning the room, picking up glasses, before she found the body? When the police discover a drug ring operating in the hotel, and that Molly moved a bag from room to room, it’s easy to suspect her of murder. They can’t comprehend that she easily misunderstands situations, especially when requests come from people she trusts. Evidence implicates Molly, but she has a few friends who help her when she’s arrested. Molly gets her moment to shine, though, surprising even her lawyer while she’s on the witness stand following a drug dealer’s arrest for murder.
VERDICT Molly is a likable, neurodivergent narrator in this outstanding debut. The character-rich mystery ends with several twists that will appeal to fans of Eleanor Oliphant and other sympathetic heroines.
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