Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Fiction Review: The Verifiers

One of many outstanding books I read for this year's Booktopia event (see my video wrap-up here) was The Verifiers by Jane Pek. And I not only got to meet the author and hear her speak at Booktopia, but she sat at our table for dinner Friday night, so I got to know her a bit (she is excellent at book trivia, by the way!). Her debut novel is a fun, suspenseful mystery with a great sense of humor.

Claudia Lin is sort of the black sheep of her "model minority" family, so it makes sense that she hasn't told her mother, brother, or sister about her new job (or that she quit the big corporate job her brother got for her). This new job is a bit ... unconventional. She works for a small start-up company called Veracity. Clients can hire them to look into their "matches" on the various dating sites, to see if they are lying or hiding something about themselves. One of Claudia's first clients is Iris, who is hiring Veracity to look into two men she's met online. One of them seems like a great match but refuses to meet in-person (big red flag!) and the other is a man that Iris is actually seeing and really likes, but she wants to be sure he isn't too good to be true. Claudia does indeed learn some interesting things about both men, but Iris dies suddenly, under what Claudia feels are mysterious circumstances. Her bosses at Veracity tell her in no uncertain terms to forget about Iris, but Claudia just can't. As a huge fan of mystery novels, especially her favorite Inspector Yuan series, Claudia launches her own secret (supposedly) investigation, but things soon turn dangerous ... and even more mysterious. The more Claudia digs, the more complex and intriguing Iris' story becomes. Along the way are plenty of dead ends, red herrings, and other mystery-novel-like aspects to keep Claudia engrossed, but the danger grows.

This is such a fun novel! There is the mystery, which is wholly unique and twisty, but also Claudia's relationships with her immigrant family, which have emotional depth but are also very amusing. In fact, the entire story is imbued with a wonderful sense of humor, as Claudia applies her mystery-novel knowledge to the case and stumbles through both her detective work and her family interactions. The mystery itself has some technical aspects to it, as the algorithms used by online dating websites are a big part of it, but even when I couldn't completely follow the details, I got the gist of it ... and kept laughing with almost every page!

To give you an idea of the humor woven throughout the novel, here is an early scene with Claudia's family:

"As always, I'm the second-to-last person to arrive at Golden Phoenix, befitting my role as the feckless youngest child of the Lin family. Charles and his girlfriend, Jessie, and our mother are already there, sitting side by side at one of the large round tables in the middle of the room. Charles is frowning down at his phone. Jessie is trying to make small talk with my mother, who is blatantly uninterested in anything she might have to say. Also befitting their roles.

"Hi, Mom," I say as I drop into a chair across from the other three of them. I smile at Jessie, who looks at me the way the Spartan three hundred might have at reinforcements making it to Thermopylae in time. She and Charles have been dating for the past several months, and Charles has recently started subjecting her to Lin family events. They matched on Bubble Meets Tea, an invitation-only matchmaker for overachieving Asian Americans. My primary impression of her so far is that she's too nice for our family."

I absolutely loved reading this novel, filled with humor and suspense and a wonderfully unconventional female heroine, and have moved it into my husband's stack on our bookcase. And I learned at Booktopia that the publisher has requested 2-3 more books from Jane, so I can't wait to see what's in store for Claudia next!

354 pages, Vintage Books

Random House Audio

This book fits in the following 2022 Reading Challenges:

Diversity Challenge, plus May mini-challenge: Southeast Asian

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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here and/or download it from Audible. It's a fun excerpt, including the passage above, where Claudia considers the interesting aspects of her first case.


You can buy the book through Bookshop.org, where your purchase will support the indie bookstore of your choice (or all indie bookstores)--the convenience of shopping online while still buying local!



Or you can order The Verifiers from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.



  1. Humor and suspense... it's going on my TBR list. Thank you

    1. Yes, a great combination!! I love a book with. sense of humor :)