Book review and synopsis for The Maid by Nita Prose, a heartwarming story wrapped up in a cozy locked-room-type mystery.
In The Maid, Molly Gray is maid who has difficulty in social situations, but who takes great pride in her work. She works at the upscale Regency Grand Hotel, taking pride in her neatly tucked bed corners and wiping every spot of dirt and dust from every surface.
Then, one day she finds the dead body of Mr. Black, a wealthy real estate tycoon, in one of the guest rooms, sending her life into disarray and revealing the messy, gritty activities going on beneath their noses that the hotel.
In this cozy murder mystery, Molly must find Mr. Black's killer or risk getting entangled in a dirty plot. And to do so, Molly must rely on those she trusts so they can clean up this mess.
(The Detailed Plot Summary is also available, below)
Detailed Plot SummaryChapter-by-Chapter SummarySee the Chapter-by-Chapter Summary of The MaidQuick Plot Summary
The two-paragraph version of this: Molly Gray is a maid at a hotel who finds a the dead body of Mr. Black, a wealthy real estate tycoon, in a guest room. Meanwhile, Molly has been doing favors for Giselle, Mr. Black’s (second) wife, and the hotel’s head barman Rodney. When Molly is arrested for Mr. Black’s murder, Molly realizes she’s been framed.
She soon learns that Giselle and Rodney are lovers who were planning on running away together and that Rodney was working for Mr. Black by running a drug operation (which Molly unwittingly had assisted in) through the hotel. With help from others, Molly concocts a plan so that Rodney is caught red-handed with the drugs and is arrested for the murder (Giselle wasn’t involved, so Molly encourages her to run away). In the Epilogue, it’s revealed that Molly knew all along that the real killer was Mr. Black’s first wife, whose daughter Victoria had been trying to clean up his company.
Molly Gray, 25, is a maid at an upscale boutique hotel, the Regency Grand Hotel, where she’s worked for four years. Molly is socially awkward, has difficulty interpreting body language and social situations, and her Gran who raised her passed away 9 months ago. Charles Black, a real estate magnate, and his (second) wife Giselle Black are frequent guests of the hotel. Giselle is friendly and generous with Molly and has told Molly about her unhappy marriage.
On Monday, Molly finds the dead body of Mr. Black in his hotel suite. Giselle was upset earlier that day, and Charles’s company, Black Properties & Investments, has been in turmoil lately due to a tussle over ownership and control with his daughter, Victoria Black. Victoria’s mother is Charles’s first wife, and Victoria owns 49% of the shares of the company.
At the scene, Molly notices an open bottle of Giselle’s pills next to the body, money missing from the room’s safe, a flight itinerary for two one-way tickets to the Cayman Island in Giselle’s purse, and she had seen Mr. Black holding a deed of some sort earlier that day. The police question Molly, but Molly withholds a lot of information to prevent incriminating Giselle, who she considers a friend. Giselle has previously told Molly about Charles’s cheating and abusive behavior, but Molly keeps all of it to herself.
On Tuesday, Molly’s landlord Mr. Russo reminds her of her late rent payment. At work, the head bartender Rodney asks to meet up with Molly after her shift to talk about what she witnessed. Molly eagerly agrees since she’s infatuated with Rodney, and she views this as their second date.
Over a year-and-a-half ago, Molly had walked in to clean a room where she was stopped by two large men, and she saw Rodney and Juan Manuel (one of the kitchen dishwashers) in the room, too. Rodney had asked to talk with her afterwards, which Molly had interpreted to be a date. Over dinner, he’d asked her not to tell anyone else what she saw involving the men, a package and a duffle bag. Rodney claimed that he was helping Juan Manuel, an undocumented worker. He also asked for Molly’s help in getting keycards for empty rooms that Juan could use each night and to clean those rooms afterwards. Molly had agreed and had been giving Juan Manuel keycards each day since then.
In present day, Molly meets up with Rodney who asks her what she witnessed yesterday and how the police questioning had gone. She starts to get irritated and suspicious when he asks if the police said anything about him. However, she dismisses those thoughts when he asks to exchange phone numbers. Afterwards, Mr. Preston the doorman sees them together, and he warns Molly to be careful with Rodney.
Molly has only ever had one ex-boyfriend, Wilbur. Molly and her grandmother had saved up money so that Molly could attend college, and Molly had met Wilbur, a soon-to-be accounting student, at college orientation just before she was supposed to start her hospitality management program. They’d been dating until one day Wilbur went with her to deposit a check in her account and saw her key in her PIN number. He cleaned out her account, and she never heard from him again. Molly didn’t report it since she didn’t want her grandmother to know what had happened.
When Molly gets home, she finds Giselle waiting outside her apartment building. (Giselle is currently staying at another room in the hotel). Inside, Giselle fills Molly in on what’s been going on. She says that she and Charles had gotten in an argument yesterday when she asked to have a piece of property (a villa in the Cayman Islands) in her name because their prenup means she gets nothing. However, Giselle insists she didn’t kill Charles, and Molly believes her.
Giselle also asks Molly about what she saw and told the police. Hearing that Molly tried to be discreet, Giselle hugs Molly and gives her $200. Then, Giselle asks Molly for a favor. She says she left a gun in the bathroom fan in the crime scene suite and asks Molly to fetch it for her. Molly agrees to get it.
On Wednesday, the police are done inspecting the Black suite, and Molly is assigned to clean it up. Rodney suggests that Juan Manuel should stay there for a while once it’s clean since the hotel is unlikely to be renting it out for a while anyway. He gives Molly a duffle bag to put in there. That morning, Molly cleans up the suite, places the duffle bag there and fetches Giselle’s gun from the bathroom. Molly puts the gun in her extra vacuum filter to hide it.
Molly also finds Mr. Black’s wedding band in the room. Molly decides to pawn it at a pawn shop over lunch. When she returns back to the hotel, the police are there looking to question Molly again. They confront her about not having been forthcoming about what she knows about Giselle and Charles.
That night, Molly uses the money from the pawnshop to pay the remainder of her late rent. Afterwards, she’s feeling upset, and she calls Rodney. She confides in him about Giselle’s gun and about pawning Mr. Black’s wedding band.
On Thursday morning, Molly is arrested for Mr. Black’s murder and the police know everything that Molly had told Rodney. By now, it’s been established that Mr. Black died of asphyxiation. Molly calls Mr. Preston for help. His daughter, Charlotte, is a lawyer. Charlotte offers to represent Molly and helps to put up the bail so Molly can be released.
They review the details of what happened, and they talk to Juan Manuel as well. It turns out that Mr. Black had been running a drug operation through the hotel and that Rodney was working for him. The duffle bags that Rodney had asked Molly to place in the empty rooms that Juan Manuel was in every night were filled with cocaine. Rodney had also been forcing Juan Manuel to work for them. (Rodney had introduced Juan Manuel to a layer to get his work permit extended, but the lawyer had taken Juan Manuel’s money and left him with an expired permit. Rodney had then threatened Juan Manuel and his family unless he cooperated.) It also turns out that Rodney and Giselle were lovers, and Giselle had wanted them to run away to the Cayman Islands to start a new life.
In present day, the group discusses and comes up with a plan to help Molly. That night, they trick Rodney into going up into the Black suite to fetch a duffle bag of cocaine. When he does, the police apprehend him red-handed and he’s arrested for the murder of Mr. Black. Molly is cleared of all charges. (Giselle would have been arrested, too, except that Molly called her and Giselle swore that she knew about the drugs, but had nothing to do with the murder or framing Molly. Molly decides to tell Giselle to get her passport and run away.)
That night, Molly thinks about her Gran’s death and how her Gran (in her final days of dying of pancreatic cancer) had asked Molly to smother her with a pillow to stop the pain. Molly had done it.
On Friday, Molly’s boss Mr. Snow offers her and Juan Manuel their jobs back.
Several Months Later, Molly and Juan Manuel are now dating, and Molly has recently been promoted to Head Maid. Juan Manuel has recently moved in with Molly, and she is slowly rebuilding her savings so she can attend a hospitality management program while she works. Today, Molly receives a $10,000 deposit into her account from “Sandy Cayman”, who she realizes must be Giselle and that Giselle is now in the Cayman Islands by herself.
Molly also thinks back to the testimony she gave yesterday when Rodney was convicted of murder. She had told the court about how when she found the body, she’d fainted because she’d seen a shadowy figure holding a pillow. She says that she didn’t say anything before since she wasn’t entirely sure what she’d seen.
In the Epilogue, Molly explains that she really did see a shadowy figure. She fainted because the image of them holding a pillow reminded her of herself when she smothered her Gran (at Gran’s request). However, at court it was implied that it could’ve been Rodney. Instead, Molly knows exactly who it was — the killer was the first Mrs. Black (Charles’s first wife and the mother of Victoria Black).
Mrs. Black had helped Molly up after she fainted and explained that she’d gone there to talk to Mr. Black, but he had gotten physical with her. She told Molly about how her daughter Victoria had been trying to clean up the company, but Mr. Black had resisted. She suggested that Molly help her to “turn the tables” on bad men like Mr. Black by not telling anyone about her (Mrs. Black) being there. Molly had agreed.
For more detail, see the full Chapter-by-Chapter Summary.