Picking a pseudonym must be a struggle. However, one must question Nita Pronovost’s choice of Prose as her pen-surname. Because if you’re going to name yourself after your discursive form, you need to be sure that you’re really, really good at it. Unfortunately, based on The Maid, Prose isn’t.

The Maid tries to be a quirky murder mystery. Sadly, however, it ends up being not at all quirky, and not particularly mysterious. There is one murder, though. The book’s own crimes are multiple. The first, is poor characterisation. Prose pins her hopes on the first person narrator, Molly – the eponymous maid at the Regency Grand Hotel, where the murder takes place. She is supposed to provide quirkiness and sympathy due to her inability to read social situations, and her now-dead ‘gran’ whose absence causes Molly no end of grief.

However, when it comes to Molly, Prose has selectively thrown together elements of Asperger’s Syndrome and OCD, without wanting to commit to the level of research and understanding that would have allowed her to name Molly’s issues. Meanwhile, the dead grandmother exists only as an endlessly repetitive source of remembered platitudes. We’re meant to think of ‘gran’ as some kind of benevolent wise-woman who we would all like to have in our own lives. We don’t.

The second crime is the writing itself. If we’re being generous, we could attribute the love of clichéd collocations and similes, and the obsessive flurries of tricolon – which in places get so bad that passages read like the work of a highly enthusiastic 11-year-old – to Molly’s obscure personality issues. But if that’s the case, it would simply add fuel to the argument that Prose should have written a better protagonist.

When the murder mystery eventually gets going, the reader’s interest tries to revive, despite the best efforts of gran’s intrusive and idiotic words, amid a cast of characters made up entirely of under-researched stereotypes, dialogue that lacks both style and substance, and a fairly transparent plot.

The book culminates in an epilogue, which is meant to be a dramatic revelation proving both the subjectivity of truth and, oddly, the merits of vigilante justice, all topped off by a greatest-hits of gran’s dullest truisms.

I suppose that formulaic and clichéd girl-power vigilantism is pretty trendy right now, and given the amount of people who delight in reading platitudes posted on Instagram and choose to believe that therein lies all the wisdom they need to navigate the modern world, this book is probably going to do well. Fair enough. But if you happen to be someone who actually cares about truth, wisdom, girl-power, or just literature itself, this prospect should make you quite upset.