Decorum, discretion, and a dead body
“The Maid” unfolds in a present-tense narrative putting readers into each scene with Molly, a twenty-five year-old maid at the five-star boutique Regency Grand Hotel. Molly talks directly to readers, expressing pride in her job performance and in her propriety. Her narrative is jam-packed with her ordinary tasks and professional duties. She exists in plain sight, yet remains largely invisible, entering a hotel room like a phantom and cleaning without any concern for the mess left behind.
Molly’s story continues at a slow but deliberate pace with flashbacks that explain her feelings and add to the background. Molly maintains her professional attitude throughout the narrative; she is not a gossip; she is paid to keep her mouth shut and to then disappear without a trace. Unfortunately, one day this specimen of proper decorum finds something rather unusual, something decidedly not ordinary and proper; she finds a guest who is permanently indisposed — dead. She tries to be helpful in the investigation of this terrible event, but since she is also the model of discretion, her answers to questions contain only the minimum information necessary. She does not hide the truth, but she certainly does not volunteer it.
“The Maid” is exclusively Molly’s story; at times she is one-dimensional to a fault. There are unsavory things going on in the hotel that she chooses to ignore. As I followed Molly’s journey, I wondered if she deliberately chose not to see things or if she just believed that everyone was as dedicated as she. Ultimately, it was some of each. I received a review copy of “The Maid” from Nita Prose, Random House Publishing Group, and Ballantine Books.