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The Verifiers (Paperback)
I picked this up when I needed a distraction from everything else I was reading, and if you want to read a main character who’s funny, but with a sweet sincerity, not that sardonic despairing edge that appears in so much contemporary (and excellent!) fiction, The Verifiers is just the thing. Claudia (who goes by Claw, which I love) is the youngest of three children raised by a single mom, an immigrant from Taiwan.
Claudia differs from her high-achieving siblings in that she doesn’t want to devote her prodigious intelligence to a job that takes over her life as she makes money hand over fist but never has the time to enjoy it. Which is why she secretly abandons her low-level job in finance to work for Veracity, in essence a detective agency specializing in online dating. Her job scratches the itch Claudia has always felt—obsessed with detective stories since she was a kid (in her case, it’s a Sherlockian character called Inspector Yuan), she’s thrilled by tracking “matches” online, even tailing them in the world, in order to discover whether they’re lying on their dating profiles (shocker: they are).
Pek, whose first novel this is, builds an excellently-paced, complexly-structured mystery, but the heart and soul of the novel is the Lin family dynamic. The Three C’s—Charles, Coraline, and Claudia—are each at the mercy of the withholding, critical parenting style of their mother. The siblings’ extremely obvious love for each other is shot through with old resentments, simmering competitiveness, and characterized by the overzealous micromanaging older siblings often inflict on younger ones.
Meanwhile, big tech and its tendrils permeate the environment, suffusing everything with low-key anxiety about unscrupulous capitalists and the robber barons of the data economy, a field in which Pek is obviously well-versed.
The Verifiers feels zippy and fresh, and hints at a sequel (yay). Just the thing if you have the taste for something plotty and immersive.
—Sarah, Longfellow Books
March 2022 Indie Next List
“Set in the age of internet dating, Claudia Lin investigates the murder of one of her firm’s clients. Jane Pek weaves issues of technology, privacy, cultural identity, and a warm family story. Let's hope this is the start of a new series!”
— Jane Stiles, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA
ONE OF THE WASHINGTON POST'S BEST MYSTERY BOOKS OF THE YEAR • Introducing Claudia Lin: a sharp-witted amateur sleuth for the 21st century. This debut novel follows Claudia as she verifies people's online lives, and lies, for a dating detective agency in New York City. Until a client with an unusual request goes missing....
“The world of social media, big tech and internet connectivity provides fertile new ground for humans to deceive, defraud and possibly murder one another.... Well rendered and charming.... Original and intriguing.” —The New York Times Book Review
Claudia is used to disregarding her fractious family’s model-minority expectations: she has no interest in finding either a conventional career or a nice Chinese boy. She’s also used to keeping secrets from them, such as that she prefers girls—and that she's just been stealth-recruited by Veracity, a referrals-only online-dating detective agency.
A lifelong mystery reader who wrote her senior thesis on Jane Austen, Claudia believes she's landed her ideal job. But when a client vanishes, Claudia breaks protocol to investigate—and uncovers a maelstrom of personal and corporate deceit. Part literary mystery, part family story, The Verifiers is a clever and incisive examination of how technology shapes our choices, and the nature of romantic love in the digital age.
About the Author
JANE PEK was born and grew up in Singapore. She holds a BA from Yale University, a JD from the New York University School of Law, and an MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College. Her short fiction has appeared in The Brooklyn Review, Witness, Conjunctions, Literary Hub, and twice in The Best American Short Stories. She currently lives in New York, where she works as a lawyer at a global investment company.
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: NPR • THE WASHINGTON POST • BOOKRIOT • SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL • NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
NOMINATED FOR THE LEFTY AWARD FOR BEST DEBUT MYSTERY
ONE OF THE YEAR'S MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS! Harper’s Bazaar • Good Morning America • BuzzFeed • USA Today • Electric Lit • Literary Hub • Book Riot • Bustle • CrimeReads • Medium • Alma • Lambda Literary • LGBTQ Reads • PopSugar • Publishers Weekly
“Your go-to summer read. . . . Really fun and will keep you hooked.”
—Emily Henry, bestselling author of Beach Read
“This book is exhilaratingly well-written. I loved it so much that I didn’t want it to end.”
—Emily St. John Mandel, bestselling author of Station Eleven
“Pek’s engrossing debut novel gives us a thoroughly modern twist on classic detective fiction.”
—Editors’ Choice, The New York Times Book Review
“I loved this book. I'm a huge fan of Veronica Mars, and I was a big Nancy Drew fan as a kid, and it really scratched that same itch.”
—Natalie Escobar, NPR's "Weekend Edition"
“A commentary on love in the time of iPhones, a thrilling ride to discover what was really going on with the client that disappeared, and a look at one family making their way through all types of distance.”
—Zibby Owens, Good Morning America
“Clever, dryly funny. . . . This is a fascinating, carefully layered mystery novel as well as a love letter to New York City and complicated families.”
—Grace D. Li, The Washington Post, “8 Thrillers and Mysteries to Read This Summer”
“[Claudia] serves as the perfect guide as she finds herself drawn into a missing persons case that takes place both online and in real life.”
—Kevin Wilson, TODAY
“Jane Pek’s The Verifiers kept me up reading until 1 a.m. last night.”
—Rachel Nussbaum, InStyle
“Exhilarating. . . . Pek’s plot centers on the potential for evil in the ‘matching industry,’ but it’s the keen, sprightly, incidentally lesbian heroine and her complex Chinese immigrant family you can’t get enough of.”
—Richard Lipez, The Washington Post
“[A] funny and touching modern detective story.”
—Keely Weiss, Harper’s Bazaar, “The Best, Buzziest New Books of 2022”
“This astute, page-turning debut sheds light on the necessities and limitations of interpersonal interaction, the role technology plays in its evolution (and de-evolution), and what it means to be human and looking for love in the 21st century.”
—Dahlia Adler, BuzzFeed
“A mystery of the classic gumshoe kind. . . . It’s also a wonderful look at family dynamics. . . . Both mystery and family combine nicely for a satisfying story.”
—Liberty Hardy, Book Riot
“Through Claudia’s perceptive and entertaining narration, The Verifiers underscores the pitfalls and absurdities of modern technology. The novel is also an intimate portrait of a young, queer Chinese American person forging her own path.”
—Poets & Writers
“Claudia is single, gutsy (she’s a cyclist in New York), and a really funny narrator of this wonderfully entertaining mystery.”
—Carole E. Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“The Verifiers is as delightful as it is insightful. . . . Pek poses deep and thoughtful questions about romance, privacy, family, data, corporate greed and big tech. . . . The Verifiers is sure to leave readers looking for more from this new voice in the genre. . . . A perfectly paced whodunit.”
—Kerry McHugh, Shelf Awareness
“Pek’s first novel is a whip-smart and super charming techno thriller that feels at once contemporary and classic.”
—Michelle Hart, Electric Lit, “The Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books of 2022”
“Pek’s book is funny in a sly way and smart in the way it explores the intersection between identity and technology.”
—Lisa Levy, CrimeReads, “5 Psychological Thrillers You Should Read This February”
“I was so taken in by [Pek's] descriptive language and lush, immersive imagery. . . . She’s adept at crafting the rich inner world of her characters.”
—Vanessa Willoughby, Literary Hub, “Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2022”
“A twisty and smart mystery about online dating algorithms layered with a poignant tale about second-generation Asian American identity.”
—Emily Burack, Alma, “Alma’s Favorite Books for Winter 2022”
“Claudia’s wit [is] a great source of humor throughout the book. . . . This is an all-around interesting mystery that doesn’t sacrifice characterization for plot.”
—Erica Ezeifedi, Book Riot
“That rare combination of technothriller and traditional mystery. . . . When Claudia’s client vanishes, she goes down an ugly rabbithole into the nature of truth, and the truth of corporate malfeasance.”
—Molly Odintz, CrimeReads, “The Most Anticipated Crime Fiction of 2022”
“A can’t-miss debut mystery.”
—Sabienna Bowman, PopSugar
“The Verifiers is a really terrific debut novel that melds a borderline techno thriller mystery with a contemporary comedy of manners. The depiction of Claudia’s own complicated personal life . . . makes for really absorbing—and to me, relatable—reading. Claudia is smart, funny, self-aware, and loves a good mystery as much as I do. . . . Claudia is such a great, fresh detective protagonist, and I’m very eager to read more of her ongoing adventures.”
—Doreen Sheridan, Criminal Element
“A clever and thought-provoking mystery laced with wit and insights about technology and relationships, who we are and who we pretend to be. Smart, twisty fun.”
—Charles Yu, National Book Award-winning author of Interior Chinatown
“Suspenseful and hilarious, The Verifiers builds on the tropes of the whodunnit to bring us something entirely new. In quick-witted gumshoe Claudia Lin, Pek has created an irresistible heroine who must untangle her own family drama even as she investigates the malfeasance of warring online-dating platforms. This novel is a genre-defying joy!”
—Anna North, New York Times bestselling author of Outlawed
“The Verifiers is both witty and profound, at once a propulsive read and a meditation on our moment. Jane Pek delivers an intricate murder mystery, a portrait of fraught family dynamics, and an interrogation of algorithmic matchmaking. Claudia Lin is a memorable and magnetic protagonist, and this debut is riveting, a twinkle in its eye even as it takes on deep questions about how technology enhances and intrudes on our lives.”
—Helen Phillips, author of The Need
“Pek’s thoughtful, well-constructed debut introduces irrepressible Claudia Lin. . . . This nuanced novel will leave readers eagerly awaiting Pek’s next book.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A cool, cerebral, and very funny novel. . . . Claudia is the seductive protagonist in a tale that delves into the dark heart of contemporary technology, not to mention the foibles of the human heart. With an inquisitive, clever, and curious narrator, this adventurous mystery is both scary and hilarious.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)