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Writer George Fleming’s Reed O’Hara Returns In A New Tampa Bay Thriller

The last time we heard from Reed O’Hara, the brilliant, beautiful Tampa attorney, private eye and upscale nightclub proprietor, she’d just vanquished a human trafficking dirtbag named Don Coyote.

Reed returns this week in Nevermore, the third in novelist George L. Fleming’s series of Tampa Bay Tropics thrillers.

This time around, Reed, along with her husband, brawny and brainy Jake Dupree, are engaged in dangerous mind games with thoroughbred horse breeder Raven Doyle and her own hunky hubby.

But Nevermore, published by St. Petersburg Press, isn’t about horses. Rather, Raven and husband Chance are white supremacists, and they’ve got an evil agenda that involves Reed O’Hara, who employs and aids – at her cabaret/restaurant, Namaste – the very people that racists like Raven and Chance resent sharing the planet with.

“Raven,” explains Fleming, “sees Reed as the great enabler. Therefore, Raven is not satisfied to just infiltrate the political and social system with like-minded white supremacists, she wants to actually destroy somebody like Reed O’Hara, who is a great help to people of all colors and all sexualities.”

Reed, he insists, “has to recognize that there are repercussions to being as bold and forthright as she is.”

As with his earlier titles, Bad Habits and Don Coyote, Fleming began with a single idea. “I had become interested in how open a lot of white supremacists are these days,” he says. “And how they’re comfortable being bigoted. What I was trying to do in Nevermore was to sort of dramatize that these guttersnipes no longer really have to hide in the shadows.”

Raven is physically ravishing, intelligent and highly sexualized. And an accomplished liar. “I wanted to create this absolute monster, but I wanted to make her an interesting character … and a worthy adversary to Reed O’Hara.”

The book begins with a flashback to pre-teen Reed, already gifted in academics and athletics, encountering the terrible specter of racial violence on her junior high basketball court. “I wanted to explore the idea that when we stand up for someone else, we are really standing up for ourselves,” explains Fleming.

In the present day, Reed and Jake “run into” Raven and Chance at the Hangar Restaurant (yes, the very place at Albert Whitted Airport) during a New Year’s Eve celebration.

Reed is smart enough to know the encounter was anything but accidental, and that the enigmatic Raven is up to something. But what?

“Raven,” Fleming continues, “is polyamorous. She lets on that she’s not very intelligent, but actually she is; she purposefully screws up expressions, words and such. And sometimes she dresses in a very revealing way, using her sexuality to get people off their game.

“Reed is capable of doing stuff like that, but not to that degree. So Raven is Reed’s doppelganger, her evil twin. I wanted to avoid making Raven Doyle this cardboard cutout of an evil figure.”

The women’s second encounter – just as unsettling as the first – takes place at the restaurant inside the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa.

Many of the characters from Fleming’s other books make appearances, including Namaste employees (and trained sleuths) Ravel, Chenoa and Andre. But the Nevermore narrative belongs to Reed; even Jake, although he’s in many of the scenes, isn’t as involved in this story.

Another difference is that Fleming has toned down the hard violence and the explicit sex (although they’re both present and accounted for) and cut out the really dirty language. Instead there’s more focus on character development, plotting and details.

“And I wanted to demonstrate that in some respects my life has become very much of a gestalt,” the writer insists, “in that I try to now lead my life, personally and professionally, in a way that’s feeding the good wolf and starving the bad wolf. I feel really great about it.”

Fleming is well on his way fulfilling the promise he made to himself in 2018: Twenty novels in 20 years. He’s already working on Book Four, to be titled Bonaire Blonde.

Each time out, he learns something new. “Now I see myself as nestled comfortably between the gritty, hard-boiled noirs and the precious, cozy mysteries that are poached for a perfect two minutes,” he explains. “So what I’m doing is writing parboiled fiction.”

Nevermore is available at Tombolo Books, through St. Petersburg Press and on Amazon.

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