by Angie E.
Jane Pek’s The Verifiers is a mix of speculative fiction and whodunit, and it takes place in a world where people rely on matchmaking services to find their soulmate. Sounds familiar, right? But in this book, these services are on steroids. They use algorithms more complicated than a Rubik’s cube and are worshipped by society.
Claudia Lin is no stranger to bucking her family’s traditional expectations; she has no desire to pursue a conventional career or to follow her mom’s dream of finding a “nice Chinese boy.” She’s also accustomed to keeping secrets from them, such as being
gay and her recent recruitment by Veracity, an exclusive online-dating detective agency. A master of uncovering lies, having honed her skills through a lifetime of reading detective fiction, Claudia has never used a dating site or had much to do with the digital world.
That all changes when Iris Lettriste, a mysterious client, hires her to investigate two suitors, one of whom she’s never even met. The company who hired her is ready to put Claudia’s expertise to the test. But Claudia’s lack of experience with the digital world and her devotion to detective fiction make her an ill-suited candidate for the job. Her specialty is exposing liars, but this task requires more than just uncovering deceitful spouses, job applicants, and online daters.
Even so, Claudia’s got a hunch that something fishy is going down with Iris. Then Iris disappears from both the real world and the digital world, leaving Claudia high and dry. To make matters worse, Iris deletes all her profiles. What’s going on here? Claudia’s adventure is starting to sound like something straight out of her favorite fictional detective ‘s playbook:
- Was Iris killed?
- Did she harm herself?
- Was she even Iris at all?
- Maybe she was her own sister?
- And what’s the deal with her being a broke, heartbroken dropout from journalism school?
- Or was she a fearless investigative reporter about to expose the dating industry?
Pek takes an already intriguing, sometimes zany, mystery up a notch with a protagonist who’s smart and sarcastic but also rather a bit of an underachiever. The family drama is complex and juicy, and there’s social commentary on how much technology is taking over our lives. Claudia is all about classic noir elements: the mysterious client, the amateur sleuth, and all those pesky red herrings. But here’s the kicker – this book puts a modern spin on things that’ll have you hooked from page one.
If you’re not already one of those people always questioning whether the people you meet online are really who they claim to be, you will be. The Verifiers is also about whether we’re letting algorithms control our lives and if we’re sacrificing our freedom
for the sake of convenience and fantasy. I mean, sure, we could just delete our apps and stop searching for truth and happiness online, but who’s really going to do that?
Reads of Acceptance book discussion group meets virtually. Register to join the discussion of The Verifiers on Thursday, April 27 at 7 pm. Books are available for pick-up from the Central Branch; ask for a copy at the Customer Service desk.
Angie is an Instructor & Research Specialist at Central Branch and is a co-facilitator for Reads of Acceptance, HCLS’ first LGBTQ-focused book club. Her ideal day is reading in her cozy armchair, with her cat Henry next to her.