By Julie Kish

Book: The Maid
Author: Nita Prose
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada, January 2022

Toronto writer Nita Prose has knocked it out of the park with her debut novel, The Maid, chosen as Good Morning America’s Book Club pick for January 2022.

The Maid is a combination of cozy mystery, dark comedy and whodunit with enough twists to keep readers guessing until the very end. Universal Pictures bought the rights to the book before it was published and plans to adapt it into a film starring British Actress Florence Pugh.

The story’s protagonist,25-year-old Molly Gray, is one of the most unique and delightful fictional characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Since this quirky character narrates the entire novel, the reader can see inside her head and comes to appreciate how simply marvelous she is. She reminds me of the protagonist from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by award-winning Scottish writer Gail Honeyman. However, Molly is much more lovable than Eleanor.

Life has not been easy for “Molly, the maid.” Her inability to read social cues and her tendency to take everything literally has made her the subject of taunts and ridicule throughout her life. Since her dear Gran died a few months earlier, she no longer has anyone to help her navigate the complex world.

Her unique personality and obsessive love of cleaning make her a good fit for her dream job as a maid at the upscale Regency Grand Hotel. She loves putting on her freshly starched uniform, organizing the supplies on her cart, and returning each of her assigned rooms to a state of perfection.

All is well in her strictly regimented world until she finds a wealthy guest murdered in his hotel room. Molly becomes the prime suspect due to her unusual behaviours, and she must investigate the crime to prove her innocence. Luckily, she watched every episode of “Columbo” over and over again with her Gran, so she knows how to proceed. She enlists the assistance of fellow hotel employees, but her situation becomes dire when she trusts the wrong people.

I wanted to wrap my arms around Molly and chastise those that took advantage of her trustful nature and desire for friendship. She does have some true friends, so the mystery has a heart-warming and satisfying ending.

Nita Prose, whose real name is Nita Pronovost, is well-known in the publishing industry. She is currently vice-president and editorial director at Simon & Schuster and is the latest Canadian Publishing industry professional to have her debut novel become a bestseller. In 2021, Toronto writer Ashely Audrain, a former publicity director at Penguin Books Canada, published another Good Morning America Book Club pick, The Push.