Word on the interwebs is that The Verifiers will be a March Book of the Month selection.
Claudia Lin is a lifelong mystery reader and a new employee at a company that verifies the identities of its clients’ online love interests. When Claudia’s newest client ends up dead, she takes it upon herself to solve the mystery of her suspicious death.
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 …
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.
The Verifiers is a debut mystery novel with an lesbian, Asian American protagonist, Claudia Lin. The premise is based upon the main character’s job at a “dating detective agency” that looks into clients’ romantic partners that they have met through online matchmakers. When a client ends up dead, Claudia refuses to believe it was suicide and takes things into her own hands.
I was excited to read a cozy mystery with a lesbian, BIPOC protagonist set in New York. I wanted to love this book… but I just didn’t. I found Claudia, the amateur sleuth and protagonist, to be immature. Beyond Claudia, I did not find other characters to be very well-developed. In fact, there was quite a large cast of characters, which at times I mixed up or totally forgot because it had been so long in between their appearances in the story.
I love mysteries. I typically find that I must finish them immediately to find out what happens. But this did not occur with The Verifiers. The mystery was low-stakes, lackluster, and mostly driven by the protagonist’s curiosity. The middle of the book dragged a bit, and the mystery seemed stalled. Ultimately, the resolution was quite convoluted in a way that took away any satisfaction.
The strengths of The Verifiers are the portions with Claudia’s family and the theme of people misrepresenting themselves on the internet. I thought the Lin family dynamics to be compelling. However, I wish they were explored further. The same is true for discussions of people misrepresenting themselves online. This was the focus of Claudia’s job and while it was discussed to some extent, I think it could have been expanded to make a statement or at least be further pondered.
What bothered me the most was that The Verifiers tries really hard. There were a ton of unnecessary pop culture references, not to mention all the ill-fitting analogies and comparisons. Neither of these added to the narrative or descriptions. The book includes a bunch of references to classic literature, including some that completely ruin the plot of said literature. The most irritating part of The Verifiers is the near constant comparison to and discussion of a fictional detective, which becomes very annoying very quickly. The main character also talks about the fictional detective novels in a way that assumes we know the (fictional!) books she is discussing.
Did I mention that this book about an LGBTQIA+ character and written by an own voices author includes a Harry Potter reference?! If anyone should know better, it should be an author within the queer community. I cannot believe I still have to talk about this.
Overall, The Verifiers was a try-hard novel that failed to have a compelling mystery or a protagonist for which you could cheer. I thought it was okay at best. I would not recommend this unless you are not bothered by any of the things I mentioned. I think there are too many great cozy mysteries out there to spend time reading this one.
February 22, 2022