Objects of Desire

A Rita Mars Thriller

Fiction - Thriller - Conspiracy
372 Pages
Reviewed on 03/19/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jennie More for Readers' Favorite

Objects of Desire: A Rita Mars Thriller by Valerie Webster explores the life of Rita Mars, a private investigator who previously had a successful and renowned career as an investigative journalist for a newspaper. Rita works on two cases, one involving suspected fraud in a non-profit organization and another involving her ex, Diane Winter, who has gone missing. With her 80-year-old mother visiting, Rita has her hands full. She must balance caring for her frail mom while being tracked down by those involved in the fraud case and harassment by a police officer who is convinced she is behind the sudden disappearance of her ex. Drawing on her investigative instincts and support from her team, Rita is determined to get to the bottom of both these cases even when the threats become more imminent the closer she gets to uncovering the guilty parties.

Objects of Desire by Valerie Webster is absorbing, beautifully written, and suspenseful. All the characters are well-developed. Webster made a considerable effort to create a clear picture of each character to help readers envision the scenes unfolding. Characters like Margaret, Bev, and even Annie play good supporting roles for Rita. They bring Rita’s personality to light exceptionally well. I enjoyed Rita’s bravery amidst her intense fear and how calculating she was during her interviews, despite her nervousness in broaching confrontational topics with suspects. Webster set a perfect scene for each chapter, explaining the history of the places they visit. The story slowly unfolds with each chapter, but the tension increases toward the end, enhancing intrigue.

Keith Mbuya

It had been two years since Rita Mars, a journalist in Baltimore, had spoken with her ex-girlfriend Diane Winter. So, when Detective Billy Bolton from the Baltimore City Police shows up at her office to interrogate her about Diane’s whereabouts, that is how Rita learns Diane is missing. Diane’s current girlfriend had filed a missing person’s report, and Rita was a top suspect in the case. No one knows where Diane is, but a note she left addressed to "Eddie", an intimate name Diane used to call Rita, might just be the only clue to finding her. With a detective hellbent on pinning Diane’s disappearance on her, can Rita find Diane? Rita then finds herself helping a friend expose a calculated fraudulent scheme in one of Baltimore’s biggest charitable organizations, owned by the widow of a deceased billionaire. Find out more in Valerie Webster’s Objects of Desire.

If you are looking for a mystery and conspiracy thriller, Valerie Webster’s Objects of Desire is a must-read for you. Featuring a fascinating cast, Webster spins a tangled web of mystery around the intriguing plot. Reading this book felt like solving a puzzle that kept getting more complex every time a piece was fitted into it. The evocative depictions captured the mood and setting of the scenes, colorfully bringing Baltimore to life. Webster brings a subtle tone to the storyline with a dramatic and witty touch to the plot. Between looking after a very active octogenarian mother who might be a bit senile, and helping her friend clandestinely investigate a suspected fraud scheme, it is a wonder that Rita still manages to work with her friends and Diane’s girlfriend to track down Diane. Webster’s way of bringing out the cast’s traits and emotions made it easy to connect with them. I loved this novel and I’m looking forward to reading more of Webster’s amazing work.

Romuald Dzemo

Objects of Desire: A Rita Mars Thriller by Valerie Webster is a brilliantly accomplished crime thriller with strong hints of LGBTQ themes. Rita receives a surprise visit from Detective Billy Bolton of Baltimore Police because a missing person report has been filed for her ex, Diane Winter, who betrayed her with one fling after another. Rita has kept her pain close to her heart after the bitter separation, and it has been two years now. Someone is determined to make her responsible for Diane's disappearance. Rita accepts a client who believes that someone wants to destroy the foundation she works for. Getting the help of Roswell, a gifted hacker, can she uncover the brain behind the conspiracy?

Discovering that a person one has loved and shared one's life with has gone missing is a strong premise for a plot. Being tied to the disappearance makes it even stronger. The story's opening gripped me and I kept turning the pages, wanting to know what happened to Diane. Valerie Webster excels at creating authentic relationships. Readers get a vivid picture of what happened between Diane and Rita. The banter between Rita and her friends on the one hand, and the engaging conversations between Rita and her mother, on the other, augment the entertainment in this fast-paced, engaging narrative. The characters are relatable, from Rita to Bunny to Roswell. There were twists I never saw coming. Objects of Desire is a stirring narrative with emotionally strong characters and a plot that brims with surprises.

Alma Boucher

In Objects of Desire by Valerie Webster, Diane Winter goes missing two years after Rita Mars, a private investigator, broke up with her. Detective Billy Bolton is certain Rita has something to do with Diane's disappearance. Diane's friend Bunny, who works for a nonprofit organization, asked Rita to investigate Louise, who recently started working there. As Louise is very protective of the books, there have not been any audits since she started working at the organization. Rita's mother is in the early stages of dementia, and she needs to be taken care of and constantly monitored during Rita’s investigation. With the assistance of her best friend Mary Margaret Smooth, her assistant Beverly, and the seasoned IT specialist Roswell, Rita investigates the foundation's finances and Louise while looking for Diane.

Objects of Desire is a conspiracy thriller and the second book in the Rita Mars series. Valerie Webster intertwined both plots masterfully, and I was hooked from the start. There was never a dull moment in this action-packed, fast-paced story. With all the turns and twists, I was never sure what would happen next and was always on the edge of my seat. Rita was committed to uncovering the real story behind Louise and the network of lies that could destroy the nonprofit organization. Between Diane's disappearance, the corporate embezzlement investigation, and taking care of her mother, Rita had a lot on her plate. The interaction with Rita's mother was refreshing, and her obsession with sugar and Oreo cookies provided humor. I struggled to put this book down since it is such a page-turner!

Asher Syed

Valerie Webster makes a spectacular return with a new installment in the Rita Mars thriller series. In book one, Driven, Rita Mars, a former investigative journalist turned private investigator, takes on her friend Bobby Ellis's death, believed to be murder despite being ruled a suicide. Concurrently, she aids Karin Van Dreem, threatened by her psychotic ex-husband, while confronting her own inner struggles. In this second installment, Objects of Desire, we see Rita implicated in the disappearance of her ex, Diane Winter, sparking a battle to clear her name and solve a financial crime investigation to boot. Facing heightened police scrutiny and her mother's deteriorating mental health, Rita enlists extra help from hacker Roswell. Readers will just have to wait and see if it's enough to uncover truths on both fronts and handle personal and professional turmoil, which just keeps piling up.

If Valerie Webster didn't have so much class, we might have had the satisfaction of 'seeing' the hyper-aggressive, textbook toxic masculinity poster boy Agent Bolton have his eyes replaced with Oreos, but she doesn't and we don't, so everyone will just have to settle for a very, very good story—and a dope M.C. Hammer reference. Objects of Desire reads perfectly as a standalone, but please don't rob yourselves of the pleasure of Driven and get to know Rita and her crackerjack team from the word go. Webster goes deep and reaches beyond mystery, tapping into the emotional energy of readers. In this book, it felt like the mother-daughter complexities were at the forefront. Rita's frustration with her mother's persistence, Annie's stubbornness, and Magda's anguish and desperation convey the heartbreak of a mother grasping to reconcile her daughter's troubled past. The writing is clean, the mysteries are tightly threaded, and the fierce femme themes are solid. Very highly recommended.