There is a lot to love about The Verifiers by Jane Pek. The interesting main character, a timely mystery about the ethics of online dating and data collection, a mysterious research group/detective agency, sibling and parent issues, urban bike riding, a realistic NYC backdrop. So much material and depth there.
What dropped it down to three stars for me was the constant references to the made-up Inspector Yuan. I get it, she likes to read mysteries. But the character was a grown woman who at the start of the book was already an investigator working at what is basically a niche detective agency. Why did she need to think that this hybrid of Sherlock and Poirot would do what seemed like nearly every single page? Maybe if she was in some other line of work and suddenly was investigating a murder in her building or a child she’d heavily rely on her favorite fictional character for inspiration but that’s not the scenario here.
I think it could have worked if maybe the book was half this mystery and half of an Inspector Yuan “novel”. I wouldn’t have been interested in that personally but at least would have made sense to have so much Yuan content. Or have a snippet of a Yuan book as a forward to each chapter? Something! But I feel like if you are going to mention this “character” nonstop the author either needed to lean in and really make it a part of the book or dial the mentions way back. It really took me out of the book because then mentions were so frequent and since he’s not a fictional character that “exists” in the real world I had to spend time piecing together what his books would be like rather than focusing on the actual mystery. I don’t mind some fake pop culture references, it’s nice to see people actually reading, watching tv, and listening to music in a novel (something that happens less than you’d think) but the Inspector is included way too much for it not to have any real bearing on the plot.
I think this is supposed to be the first of a series. If so, please knock it off with the constant Inspector Yuan content. I really wanted to love this book and it had so much potential but really had to force myself to finish it. Luckily the Inspector Yuan references slowed down in the last quarter but the conclusion seemed really rushed. I think there is potential for a good series here and would check out her next offering.