Award-winning author Valerie Webster, known for her captivating storytelling, has just unleashed the highly anticipated second book in the Rita Mars Thriller series – Objects of Desire.
In this heart-pounding crime fiction, Rita Mars faces a relentless assault on her career, plunging readers into the sinister world of cybercrime. Set against the mysterious backdrop of Chesapeake Bay’s marshy swamps, the story races through a high-speed chase, weaving as many plot twists and turns as the wetlands themselves.
Valerie Webster, drawing from her 30+ year career in cyber and real-life security, introduces readers to Rita Mars, an ex-investigative reporter fighting crime around Washington D.C.’s beltway and beyond. The protagonist, based on Webster’s real-life experiences, confronts police accusations and dives headfirst into uncovering a financial fraud threatening a beloved charity. Political motives lurk in the shadows, keeping readers guessing until the very end.
“In Objects of Desire, Rita Mars is running on the edge,” says Webster. “Cops are trying to pin her down, but she’s determined to expose the truth behind the accusations and unravel a web of deceit that could shatter the foundation of a popular charity.”
Webster’s debut novel, Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller, received critical acclaim, earning the 2022 Silver Award in LGBTQ fiction from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. With more than 7,000 copies sold since its release in May 2021, Webster has firmly established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the thriller genre.
Rita Mars, a tough, left-brained pragmatist with a vulnerable side, navigates through her complexities, making her a relatable and compelling character. As a lesbian facing ex-lover issues and grappling with family dynamics, Rita Mars brings a unique and authentic perspective to the genre.
Objects of Desire is now available for Kindle on Goodreads and Amazon, with paperback copies also offered for purchase. Readers can expect a rollercoaster of emotions, as the twisting plot lines keep them on the edge of their seats.
Valerie Webster, a prominent cybersecurity speaker in the Colorado region, is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Alongside her thrilling novels, she maintains a Rita Mars Thriller blog, providing insights into her writing process and the world of crime fiction. For more information about the author and her work, visit www.valeriewebster.com.
Colorado and Maryland’s Eastern Shore author and speaker Valerie Webster has released Objects of Desire, the second book in her Rita Mars Thriller series. The high-speed chase of this crime-fiction read takes place in the dark underworld of the Chesapeake Bay’s marshy swamps, with as many plot twists and turns as the wetlands weave. Webster’s debut novel Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller received critical accolades from readers and is the recipient of the 2022 Silver Award in LGBTQ fiction from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA). Webster has sold more than 7,000 copies of Driven since first publishing in May 2021.
Valerie Webster, a native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, currently resides in Longmont, Colorado. A distinguished member of Sisters in Crime and past president of the Boulder Writers’ Association, she holds her Education degree from Salisbury State College—now Salisbury University, and a Master’s degree in Modern American Literature from the University of Tennessee. With a cybersecurity career spanning more than 30 years, Webster has taken her expertise worldwide. Inspired by her real-life experiences and LGBTQ+ identity, she crafts the Rita Mars Thriller series, captivating readers with each thrilling installment. Webster continues to engage audiences on cybersecurity topics, particularly for seniors and is actively working on the third book in the series.
A new Rita Mars Thriller is coming this fall! Here’s a sneak peek:
“I ain’t here to clean the house.” The person on the porch blocked the usually sunny opened doorway.
“I’m sorry?” The woman inside the house stood waiting for an answer. She was a tiny person, slim, noticeably agitated by the unexpected break in her routine.
“I brought you something.”
“I have a meeting this morning. I’m afraid I have to get ready. Maybe later.” The woman inside started to close the door, but a booted foot wedged in the frame to stop progress.
A broad hand with thick stubby fingers rested against the door. “Just take a minute.”
The woman inside hesitated, irritated, undecided.
“Promise. A minute.” The boot in the door sill stayed in place.
“Uh, ok. “The woman ran a hand through her hair. “But I really need to finish dressing for my meeting.”
“No problem.” The beefy palm touched the door but did not push. The woman inside opened her house.
The figure outside stepped in, overshadowing the home owner by almost a foot. “Nice house. I always wondered what it was like in here.”
“You have something for me?” asked the woman.
“I do.” The visitor took time surveying the foyer and living room as the two stood by the still open door.
“Can we hurry this up, I need to leave.” A trickle of sweat beaded at her temple. She glanced toward the kitchen where her cell phone lay on the counter.
“Ok, so let’s get you ready to go.” The figure’s paw snagged the woman’s arm and clutched it so that the woman’s sleeve crushed with the pressure.
“Hey, let go.” The woman pulled against the grip but she was no match. “Stop.” She dug her nails into the grasping arm.
“Let’s go upstairs.” The woman was half dragged, half lifted toward her stairwell.
“What is the matter with you? I’m going to call the police.” The woman threw all her weight away from her trapped arm trying to loosen it. “Stop,” she cried. She began to flail with every ounce of strength.
The intruder shook her head. “Now you know you don’t want to do that. We need to get you packed up and ready.”
The woman now grabbed the banister as the intruder strong-armed her up the steps. She could not hold against the brute strength of her attacker who easily drew her upward.
“Gotta suitcase?” The attacker maintained the commanding grip.
The attacker held fast while she went through the woman’s chest of drawers, her closet and bathroom, throwing clothes and toiletries into a small roll-aboard that had been in the bedroom closet. All the while, the impinged victim wrestled, clawed and dug her teeth into the arm that tightened around hers.
The woman screamed again, but the free meaty hand covered her mouth. The attacker drew out a roll of duct tape and secured the woman to a vanity chair. She then took a pillow case and made a gag.
“Get you all set up here,” said the attacker. “You’ll need stuff. Now I know this is a little bit of a surprise for you. But don’t worry, I will take care of you.”
The woman in the vanity chair bowed her head as tears streamed down her face.
“Ok, so we’ve got everything, I think.” The attacker shut and snapped the suitcase closed. “I wanna take that pillow case off your mouth but you need not to scream. You gonna be good?”
The woman nodded and her intruder unknotted the pillowcase.
“Uh, I think I should leave a note,” said the woman.
“I don’t think so.” The intruder had removed the gag, but made no move to release the woman from the vanity chair.
The woman’s eyes roved quickly back and forth as she scoured her brain for an escape plan. “People will wonder where I am and we don’t want them to know, do we?”
Imagine being held against your will in a mammoth swampy area with little access or no way out. A legendary demon mule lurks behind loblolly pine and the remnants of forests long dead.
You were brought in through darkness so rich and deep that it feels more like traveling in a different space as you cannot determine sky or land. Walking the treacherous ground feels like you are entering a dangerous abyss.
The smell of death, and struggle is all around you, with muskrats, mosquitos, snakes and the like. This can be a hostile environment.
This is Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, with its 28,000 acres of brackish wetlands and ghost forests holding a gloomier story of untold mystery and menacing despair.
Blackwater embodies a darkness that earns its namesake. Waters blackened with tannins, dying forests, and black marsh mud that can swallow someone in just a few unfortunate steps make this an unfortunately perfect place to go and never be found.
Blackwater’s mystery is found in a network of hiding places for those escaping the law or toward freedom. Places to hide are abundant for hunters, trappers, and criminals alike, and it’s easy to imagine entering the dark vastness to hold someone hostage, for example, or to disappear from the public eye.
This includes people living in the horrors of slavery and seeking their freedom by using the area as part of the Underground Railroad. Dressed in disguise, people who were enslaved covertly traveled at night through snaking creeks into the deep darkness of the area, careful to avoid slave hunters and their dogs.
It’s not hard to imagine a cold, stark winter here, with the blackness of night covering a ghostly stillness that envelopes the loblolly pine and cordgrass, only to be interrupted by the sound of a bat flying overhead, or the black water’s subtle movement as a muskrat swims to its burrow on the marsh’s banks.
The area’s marshy guts are also home to bald eagle, peregrine falcon, Sika deer, fox, coyote, vole, and rats. Once a great source of timber, Blackwater’s wetlands, fields, and meadows are now interrupted by hammocks of loblolly pine and salt encroached forest, with mosquitoes and fireflies abundant in the heat of summer.
You can learn more about release dates and more of the series’ perilous plot twists and turns at www.valeriewebster.com.
Valerie Webster and Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller in the spotlight via Author of the Day interview.