The Mystery Guest

Ballantine. (Molly the Maid, Bk. 2). Nov. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780593356180. $29. M
Three years after a previous encounter with murder, Molly Gray is head maid at the Regency Grand Hotel, a five-star boutique hostelry. She’s trained her new maid, Lily, to handle the tea cart for the inn’s guest speaker, J.D. Grimthorpe, the best-selling author of over 20 mysteries, a recluse who seldom appears in public. The media and his rabid fans have gathered at the inn to catch a glimpse. Grimthorpe surprises everyone, first by coming down from the stage to doctor his own tea, and then by dropping dead just before he can finish his speech. Molly has the presence of mind to remove Lily from the scene, but she can’t prevent her old nemesis, Detective Stark, from investigating Grimthorpe’s death. When it’s revealed he was poisoned, Molly realizes she may hold the key to the case; as a young girl, she visited the Grimthorpe mansion, and Molly’s past encounters with the author may hold the truth to his death years later.
VERDICT The sequel to Prose’s award-winning debut The Maid marks the return of a charming protagonist with awkward social skills and a big heart.
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