The Maid by Nita Prose, New York : Ballantine Books, 
The Maid is a fun, quirky locked room mystery with a unique protagonist.
Molly is a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. She lives alone and has no friends. She used to live with her grandmother, but she passed away several months ago, and Molly misses her greatly. My assumption is that Molly has autism, although that is never specifically said in the book. She takes everything very literally, is happiest when she sticks to her routine, and isn’t very good at reading people and their motives. She knows most of her coworkers make fun of her, but she doesn’t let that bother her or change her devotion to her job.
Molly loves “restoring rooms to a state of perfection,” and does an excellent job of doing so. But her day is ruined when she discovers the body of Mr. Black in his suite of rooms. The Blacks are regular guests at the hotel, and she has become friendly with the second Mrs. Black, Giselle. When the police come to interview her, they are suspicious because of her affect and manner. Her coworkers are eager to share with the police how she spent time with Mrs. Black beyond her normal duties, and how Mrs. Black gave her large tips, all of which makes her look guilty. Through a series of misunderstandings and manipulations by others, Molly is arrested for the murder. She discovers she does have friends who truly care for her and are willing to help her solve the mystery and clear her name.
This is not only an excellent mystery (with a big twist at the end), but a wonderful story of friendship and a sympathetic look at someone with autism. While our world has gotten better (in general) at celebrating people’s differences, we still have a long way to go. Molly is taken advantage of by people who knew full well they were abusing her trusting nature, and is looked at with derision by some of her coworkers because they don’t understand why she acts the way she does. While the intention of this story is not to educate the public about neurodivergent thinkers, I applaud the author for creating a character who normalizes the fact that not everyone thinks or acts the same way.
The Maid is a perfect choice for a cold winter’s day under a blanket or in front of a fire!
Mary Beth Adams is the Community Engagement Librarian for ACPL. She can be reached at email@example.com.