“The Maid” by Nita Prose

Genre: Clue-Like Mystery The Maid
Publisher: Penquin-Random House
Pub. Date: Jan. 04, 2022

I am not often a fan of cozy mysteries but I did enjoy, “The Maid,” Nita Prose’s debut novel, which is satisfying on every level. A guest is found dead at a posh city hotel, and the major suspect is Molly Gray, a cleaning servicewoman who takes unusual delight and pride in her work. Molly Gray is a quirky girl who probably is on the autism spectrum.  She doesn’t understand the complexities of social interaction and frequently misinterprets others’ intentions. This is how the hotel bartender, who she has a crush on, exploits and uses her in a drug ring. While some readers may be able to figure out who the killer is right away, that will not spoil the novel. The story is more about Molly and her development as a person. This is a heartwarming tale that will have you rooting for Molly, and maybe like myself, help one remember that there is a real person with feelings inside all of us.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

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“One of the Boys” by Daniel Magariel

Publisher:  Scribnerone-of-the-boys

Pub. Date:  March, 14, 2017

A debut novel that is short enough to be called a novella about two young brothers and their abusive parents.  The blurb states “abusive father” though I felt that the mother is just as abusive in her own way, and every bit as heartbreaking in her interaction with her sons.  The title comes from the expression that the brothers are siding with the father against the mother during their parents’ contentious, bitter divorce.  The father leaves his wife and moves to a new state taking his sons with him, no females allowed.

The story is well written (with a fascinating epilogue that I cannot share for it would be a spoiler.  ) The tale is narrated by the younger, 12 year old brother, who is always trying to please his impossible to please alcoholic and cocaine addicted father.   The author, Daniel Magariel, does a good job with his narrator showing how the sweet scenes read sweeter than they actually are, simply because they are so rare in this father and son story.   A young boy’s hero worship of his dad should not be connected with fear, manipulation and brutality.  The father’s addictions pronounce his paranoia and what usually follows is very hard to read for it contains scenes of extreme psychological and physical abuse. The boys do try to run away to their mother, but she betrays them.

As a onetime social worker, I know that the expression “blood is thicker than water” does not apply in abusive families.   I don’t think of this book as entertainment.  I feel that the author is writing to educate his readers.  As always, when reading a story of abuse I wonder how the author found the material, and hope it is not from their own experiences but suspect that it is.  If I am guessing correctly, I hope the non-fictional child in the book is now an adult freed from the hopelessness of drug infested parents.  I also hope that in real life, someone younger than me is inspired by Magariel’s words to reach out to help children at risk.  I think it would be a fair to state that this novel will remind you of a more violent version of “This Boy’s Life,” the memoir by Tobias Wolff.  I hope “Boys” has as much commercial success to bring awareness and intervention for abused children.

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