I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of The Verifiers by Jane Pek. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
I would have finished this book much sooner, but I was thoroughly distracted by Bastille’s new album. No regrets.
In The Verifiers by Jane Pek, Claudia is struggling to find her path in life. Unlike her siblings, she isn’t successful professionally or in a relationship, which her mother constantly reminds her about. So when she gets a job at a new startup, she hopes things will soon be looking up. The business, called Veracity, works with clients of matchmaking companies who want to verify their potential dates—are they really who they say they are? Claudia, a fan of mystery novels, thinks it’s a fantastic job, close enough to real detective work. But a client dies under suspicious circumstances, though the police don’t think so, so Claudia takes it upon herself to crack the case. The more she investigates, the more secrets are unearthed, until she isn’t sure who she can trust.
This is a fun debut novel!
Claudia is a witty and relatable protagonist, full of sass and charm and intelligence. She’s also quite impulsive, though, and that leads her into situations I certainly wouldn’t have found myself in were I in her shoes. I really enjoyed watching her try to unravel the mystery, as well as see how her interactions with her siblings and mother changed over time.
The other characters, even Iris, weren’t that interesting to me, unfortunately. They were fairly one-note, even the one who ended up being secretly involved in a lot of the case (I won’t say who, to avoid spoilers). We’ve known him since early in the book, and yet I felt as if I didn’t know enough about him for the revelation to hold much weight for me. That said, some of the dialogue is pretty fun banter, especially between Claudia and Becks (even though, as usual when I read mystery, I was very suspicious of Becks for a large portion of the story, and so didn’t have as much fun with it as I could have).
On the other hand, I did enjoy the exploration of dating in the modern day, and how it is both a streamlined process and also an extremely complex, risky one. There are lots of conversations about truth, the way people portray themselves in real life and online, and the roles technology plays in our lives. It’s pretty entertaining, even if it does make this mystery less action-packed. If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller, this isn’t that. For me, though, this is similar enough to the tv show Person of Interest (an obsession of mine a few years ago; I’m in the mood to rewatch it soon, I think) that it certainly held my attention!
I found the ending to be ever so slightly lackluster. I wanted more of a solid resolution, even if we did solve the crime (well, not “we;” I just sat here). Yes, it’s obviously setting up a sequel, but I felt like something was still missing. Perhaps it was simply the lack of action and drama. The confrontation at the fancy dinner was excellent though—more of that, please!
In the end, The Verifiers is a smart debut novel with a strong protagonist and a compelling premise. The examination of technology, particularly in the online dating sphere, is wonderful. The plot is decent, the themes are great, and though the ending wasn’t quite what I wanted, I still had a good time! Pek is without doubt a promising author.
The Verifiers will be published in March 2022!