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The Verifiers

The Verifiers

by Jane Pek
The Verifiers

The Verifiers

by Jane Pek

Paperback

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

We are sooo happy to keep featuring fun books that fit nicely in the world of new cozy mysteries. Murder, romance and Jane Austen are all here for anyone looking for the classic pleasures of a detective novel, but from a queer, racially diverse perspective.

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.


 
A VINTAGE ORIGINAL.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593313794
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/22/2022
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 16,878
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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.

Read an Excerpt

I.

I can tell right away that Iris Lettriste isn’t like the others.

Everyone else walks into Veracity wearing some residue of embarrassment. Their gazes skitter about, their sentences are potholed with ums and wells. They overexplain. They worry that we’ll judge them, or they get preemptively angry because they assume we do.

Iris Lettriste. This woman sits down and tells us about the guy she wants us to verify like she’s ordering her first coffee of an arduous morning and it’s vital that the barista gets it right.

Not to mention: Who goes to a dating detective agency to check up on someone they were flirting with on Soulmate Messenger for all of sixteen days?

At my verifier interview, when Komla explained what Veracity did and I said, with maybe a tad too much enthusiasm, “Like a detective agency?”, he looked faintly perturbed—­which, I’ve come to realize with Komla Atsina, possibly meant he was one wrist flick away from consigning my résumé to the shred pile. That man is harder to read than Finnegans Wake. A detective agency might seem like an obvious parallel, he said, but he tried to dissuade clients from viewing Veracity as such. The verifiers didn’t solve crimes, and they didn’t intervene in the course of events beyond reporting their findings to their clients. Think of us, said Komla, as a personal investments advisory firm.

A month into the job, it’s obvious to me that all our clients think of us as a detective agency.

“It’s highly unusual,” Komla is saying to Iris, “for clients to ask us to verify matches they haven’t yet met in person.”

She frowns like she thinks he’s making an excuse to pass on the case. “Why?”

Iris Lettriste is rosy, compact, and purposeful. She looks like someone who makes lists for everything and derives satisfaction from checking off items one by one. According to her Soulmate profile (Flora or Fauna) she’s thirty-­six years old, a lawyer, into contemporary art and Japanese food. It also appears, seeing her in person now, that the photos she uploaded were all from several years ago, when she was ten pounds lighter and her skin hadn’t yet had to negotiate with gravity.

“It’s a waste of our time and your money,” says Becks. Becks Rittel would be the Mean Girl who grew up without ever getting her comeuppance. I can’t decide which aggravates me more, that I think she’s hot—­she looks like a Valkyrie and dresses like she runs a fashion line for overperforming female executives—­or that she thoroughly intimidates me.

“Why is it a waste of your time if you’re getting paid?” asks Iris.

Komla says, “We only take on cases where we feel we can have a meaningful impact.” Here, given that Iris’s match—­whom she knows only as Charretter, his username on Soulmate—­is no longer in contact with her, it would make no difference to Iris whether he was lying about anything he had written in his profile or in his chats with her.

“It might make a difference to other people.”

I can sense Komla and Becks exchanging their telepathic equivalent of a hmm interesting look. The two of them are so in sync they could set up a trapeze act. Komla’s the boss, theoretically, but Becks talks shit about him all the time, both behind his back and to his face. If this were an Inspector Yuan novel, my comfort-­read murder mystery series, it’d be easy: Komla would be the headline name and Becks the sidekick. But I’m pretty sure Becks would sooner self-­defenestrate than be thought of as anyone’s Watson.

Komla says, “Do you have any reason to believe he might be lying?”

“He disappeared once I said I didn’t see the point of continuing to correspond if we weren’t planning to meet in person soon.”

“He could just be shy,” I say. I’m thinking of my roommate, Max, and his disappointment when he finally coaxed a 96 percent compatible match into meeting up after two months of innuendo-­heavy texting. On Let’s Meet, Kilonova was witty, tender, as sensitive as an emotional tuning fork. Offline, Caleb turned out to be monosyllabic, allergic to eye contact, and prone to panicked disquisitions on his PhD research in organic chemistry.

Everyone looks at me like I’m a backup dancer who’s started gyrating in the spotlight. “Debilitatingly shy,” I add.

Komla nods. “Occam’s razor. Why pursue a complicated explanation when the straightforward one is most likely to be correct? Excellent point, Claudia.”

In my peripheral vision I see Becks pretzel her mouth like she knows Komla just made me sound smarter than I really am.

“It was more than that,” says Iris. “He was a perfectly nice guy, especially compared to some of the winners on Soulmate. But it felt . . . How do I put it? Like he had an agenda.” She stops. “I’d like to hear your opinion before I tell you mine. Assuming you decide to help me.”

Again something zings between Komla and Becks. Komla says, “Even if we establish that he’s lying, and about something material, what could you do?”

Iris rubs at the top joint of her ring finger. It’s crooked, in a way that looks like it was sprained or fractured at some point and never healed properly. “Report his account to Soulmate.”

“They’ll ask to see evidence of what you’re claiming.”

“Then I’ll provide it.”

“Not if it’s anything we’ve told you. All that remains confidential into perpetuity. You won’t even be able to say that you came to us and asked us to look into this.”

After a moment she says, “I’ll tell them something that will start them investigating.”

“You mean, you’ll make shit up,” says Becks.

Iris says, as easily as if she’s clarifying that she wants her latte made with 1 percent, “If that’s the only way to get the truth out.”

In an Inspector Yuan mystery, here is where the chapter would close, along with a spoiler from the omniscient narrator: If they had only known how great the price of the truth would be, or something else comparably ominous.

In my world, Komla sits back in his chair and says, “Let’s talk about logistics.”

Veracity will review Charretter’s activity on Soulmate over the past six months, he tells Iris, and monitor it going forward. We will also check if Charretter is active on other matchmakers by searching for similar profiles. Iris will have to come into the office to be updated in person, given the sensitive nature of the data. The verification will end after six weeks unless earlier terminated by either Iris or Veracity.

“Are you sure,” he says, “you want to proceed?”

“Yes,” says Iris Lettriste, and her eagerness flashes up like the edge of a blade turned to the light. “When can you start?”

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