Nothing is more mysterious than the family we were born into. Amateur sleuths Lena Scott and Claudia Lin don’t quite fit in with their blood relatives, but the solutions to their respective cases may lie within the bonds they’ve known their whole lives.
“I found out my sister was back in New York from Instagram. I found out she’d died from the New York Daily News.” These arresting first lines of Kellye Garrett’s Like a Sister alert the reader that this family-oriented thriller is anything but ordinary.
Lena Scott and her younger half-sister, Desiree Pierce, have little in common. Lena’s a serious grad student living with her grandmother’s widow in the Bronx, while Manhattan-based ex-reality star Desiree blows through men, clothes and substances as fast as she can spend the money from their father, music industry titan Mel Pierce. But when Desiree sees the newspaper headline, she knows there’s more to her sister’s death than a simple heroin overdose. Desiree was afraid of needles, and why was she found shoeless near Lena’s own neighborhood, when the women have been estranged for two years?
Garrett wrote for the television show “Cold Case” before publishing her award-winning debut novel, Hollywood Homicide, and its follow-up, Hollywood Ending, and in Like a Sister, she incorporates issues of race, class and, most of all, the complicated ties that bind into a twisty murder mystery with nuance and heart.
Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Claudia Lin knows she’s a complete disappointment to her family. The narrator of Jane Pek’s The Verifiers, Claudia has neither a nice Chinese husband nor a lucrative job. She likes women and hasn’t yet told her mother, and unbeknownst to her successful older brother, Charles, she has left the full-time position he’d helped her snag. Instead, as the newest staff member of Veracity, a top-secret firm in glamorous Tribeca, Claudia helps would-be lovers uncover the true identities of online paramours and expose any skeletons in their closets.
When one of Claudia’s first clients, Iris Lettriste, is found dead in her apartment, Claudia discovers that Iris had her own secret: She wasn’t Iris Lettriste at all. Who was “Iris,” and could her online presence and virtual network be the keys to figuring out who killed her?
Claudia is a scrappy, resourceful protagonist. She’s a dedicated cyclist who can and will bike anywhere, she’s a huge fan of a fictional mystery series starring the brilliant Inspector Yuan, and thanks to Veracity, she has invasive but effective tracking devices at her fingertips. Pek’s beautifully paced debut offers a hard look at our digital lives and the people we surround ourselves with IRL. It’ll have readers asking, along with Claudia, “Could a dating app, and the forces behind it, actually kill me?”