Nita Prose’ The Mystery Guest: Review & Book Club Questions

The Mystery Guest is Nita Prose’ highly anticipated sequel to her debut The Maid. Read our full review and our list of book club discussion questions.

The Mystery Guest Book Synopsis

The Mystery Guest Review. Nita Prose

Molly the Maid Mystery, Book 2

A new mess.
A new mystery.
Molly the maid returns . . .

Molly Gray wears her Head Maid badge proudly for every shift at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows, sweeping up the guests’ secrets, silently restoring rooms to a state of perfection.

But when a renowned guest – a famous mystery writer – drops very dead in the grand tea room, Molly has an unusual clean-up on her hands.

As rumours and suspicion swirl in the hotel corridors, it’s clear there’s grime lurking beneath the gilt. And Molly knows that she alone holds the key to the mystery. But unlocking it means thinking about the past, about a dusty old house, and everything else she’s tidied away in her memory.

Because Molly knew the dead guest once upon a time – and she knows his secrets too . . .

(Harper Collins AU, January 2024)

Genre: Mystery, Crime-Detective, Drama

This title will be released in the US by Penguin Random House on 27 November 2023:

Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

Book Review

I loved Nita Prose’ debut novel The Maid. It featured in my Best Reads of 2022. Sure, it had fun cozy mystery elements… but it was much more than that. It was a nuanced character study with literary qualities, with real emotional heft. Getting to know Molly and the wonderful ensemble cast were the true gift in Book 1. Could she deliver that same magic in a sequel?

The answer, for me anyway, is…. not quite. The Mystery Guest is a lot more cozy mystery than its predecessor. Plus, a few convenient authorial decisions yielded a simpler plot this time around.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Mystery Guest is a highly enjoyable read, and well worth it to see Molly’s maturation and confidence three years on from where Book 1 left off.

“I’ve always been attuned to what others ignore.”

Some meta fictional touches along the journey appealed to me also. But, most special for me was learning more of Molly and her wonderful Gran’s backstory in reflective sequences, while in the present Molly is now playing that same mentoring role for a junior staff member.

I really admire how Prose has once again shone a spotlight on characters and qualities western society generally does not spend enough time celebrating. I’m of course referring to Gran’s selflessness, stoicism and resilience, driven by her devotion to Molly’s well-being, and more generally, those hardworking individuals who take pride in doing whatever they are tasked with to the best of their ability.

“One foot in front of the other. It’s the only way to get anywhere in this life.” 

So, if the character Molly Gray struck a chord with you the first time around, then definitely read The Mystery Guest to how far she’s come a few years later. And then, look forward as I do now, to learning in what capacity we may find her solving mysteries in the future.

My Rating

Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

Where to get your copy of The Mystery Guest

Amazon Bookshop US Booktopia AU

More The Mystery Guest reviews

“A rollicking, riotous, rollercoaster of a mystery. Clever clues, a smorgasboard of suspects, and a rocket-fuel pace.”—Benjamin Stevenson, bestselling author of Everyone in my Family Has Killed Someone

“Molly Gray is the most charming amateur sleuth in modern literature. Prepare to fall in love with this fast-paced, clever whodunit full of laughs and overflowing with heart.”Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names

“Molly is still a well-drawn heroine, but this falls short of its predecessor.” – PublishersWeekly

“Oh, how I enjoy Molly’s take on life! Another gorgeous book from Nita Prose, cleverly conceived, written with panache and jam-packed with joy.”—Hazel Prior, bestselling author of How the Penguins Saved Veronica

The Mystery Guest Book Club Discussion Questions

The Mystery Guest Book Club Discussion Questions
  1. Backstories added via reflective sequences are common in cozy mysteries. How well do you feel this was executed in The Mystery Guest?
  2. Were you surprised Molly’s Gran played such a large role in this novel?
  3. How did you feel about the author’s decision to have a key male character from the first novel largely absent from this sequel?
  4. How long did it take you to figure out what the mystery author’s special announcement was about?
  5. Did you guess the perpetrator of the murder before its reveal? How many of Nita Prose’ red herrings were you snagged by first?
  6. This mystery also features multiple secrets kept by people with the best of intentions. Are there times when it is okay to keep the truth from people we love?
  7. How many meta fictional elements did you spot within The Mystery Guest? Clever candy for bookworms or cheap tricks?
  8. Discuss your feelings about the evolution of Molly and Detective Stark’s relationship depicted.
  9. What did you think about how the book club in this novel was portrayed?
  10. Molly ultimately decides to offer a persistent antagonist in this novel another chance at redemption. Do you think Gran would have done the same? Would you have, in Molly’s position?
  11. What do you think about the door Prose’ conclusion opens for her lead character?

About the Book Author, Nita Prose

Nita Prose is the author of The Maid, which has sold over 1 million copies worldwide and was published in more than forty countries. A #1 New York Times bestseller and a Good Morning America Book Club pick, The Maid won the Ned Kelly Award for International Crime Fiction, the Fingerprint Award for Debut Novel of the Year, the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and the Barry Award for Best First Mystery. The Maid was also an Edgar Award finalist for Best Novel. Nita Prose lives in Toronto, Canada, in a house that is only moderately clean. Check out her website.

* My receiving a pre-publication digital copy of The Mystery Guest from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.