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The Verifiers

The Verifiers

by Jane Pek

Narrated by Eunice Wong

Unabridged — 11 hours, 46 minutes

Jane Pek

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 12/13/2021

Set in New York “circa early twenty-first century,” Pek’s thoughtful, well-constructed debut introduces irrepressible Claudia Lin, who has recently been hired by Veracity, a low-profile, referrals-only company that checks information for mistrustful clients who want to know whether the people they meet on online dating sites are telling the truth. As Claudia notes, “Matching only fully succeeds if the dating platforms have access to accurate, complete information about the people on them. Problem is, people lie. All the time, especially on the Internet, and extra especially where anything with the potential for romance is concerned.” One client, Iris Lettriste, is different. She “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 the that the barista gets it right.” Ten days later, Iris is found dead, apparently having killed herself. Claudia, who’s an avid mystery reader, decides to investigate and is pulled into a conspiracy, all the while dealing with her complicated, dysfunctional family. Claudia’s entertaining references to Inspector Yuan, the hero of her “comfort-read murder mystery series,” cleverly elucidate her views on literary structure as well as provide investigative tips. This nuanced novel will leave readers eagerly awaiting Pek’s next book. Agent: Julie Barer, Book Group. (Feb.)

From the Publisher

ONE OF THE YEAR'S MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS! Publishers Weekly • Harper’s Bazaar • Good Morning America • BuzzFeed USA Today Electric Lit • Literary Hub • Book Riot • Bustle CrimeReads • Medium • Alma • Lambda Literary LGBTQ Reads • PopSugar

Your go-to summer read. . . . Really fun and will keep you hooked.”
—Emily Henry


“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


“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”

“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, Harpers 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

“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)

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2021-11-30
A cool, cerebral, and very funny novel about a young woman who works for an agency that investigates potential online dating partners and who has relationship questions—and quests—of her own.

Claudia Lin has a pretty excellent job. She works at Veracity, a detective agency that helps vet potential partners for clients pursuing romance via dating apps. Claudia is very much into literary mysteries—her go-to comfort reading is a murder-mystery series featuring one Inspector Yuan—as well as literature in general. Her astute, often acerbic observations prove a heady combination, contributing to Claudia’s engaging voice: She keeps the narrative moving at a fast-paced clip. When a new client wants Veracity to investigate a recent online flirt who’s ghosted said client—and when this request is followed in quick succession by another verification request—Claudia is all in, ably abetted by Finders Keepers, a proprietary app that can track people’s whereabout through their cellphones. Meanwhile, in her personal life, Claudia has a stake in keeping her own secrets hidden from her more conventional immigrant family: Not only is she dead set against the type of Chinese husband her mom wishes for her, she also regularly measures herself against her much higher achieving brother and sister. Beautifully complemented by entertaining secondary characters that include Claudia’s artistic roommate, Max, and Lionel, Claudia’s sister’s boyfriend, 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.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176137477
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 03/12/2022
Edition description: Unabridged

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?”

Customer Reviews