A few reviews reviews:

“Charlene D’Avanzo is a marine ecologist who has written a first crime novel that makes her scientific specialty exciting… The central character, Mara Tusconi, is a Maine oceanographer who thinks there’s something fishy (pardon the pun) about the death of a colleague on board a research ship.” — THE TORONTO STAR

“When it comes to research vessels, labs and scientific protocols, [D’Avanzo] knows her stuff…the action scenes are genuinely thrilling page–turners…the Down East setting is, of course, a plus.”  — PORTLAND PRESS HERALD

“An oceanographer fears she was the target of an accident at sea that kills one of her colleagues. Are climate change doubters at work?…[Cold Blood, Hot Sea combines] niche material about Maine life and oceanography.” — KIRKUS REVIEWS

“Sleuths will have to figure out who done it, but the real crime is the backdrop here: the endless heating of a fragile planet.” — BILL MCKIBBEN


Why environmental mysteries?

After thirty plus years as a professor and marine ecologist, I decided to write environmental mysteries because scientists have failed to engage citizens in the realities of our most pressing environmental issues. Take climate change for example. In March of this year, Gallup reported that over 40% of Americans polled said the issue was “exaggerated in the news”.

Frustrated by surveys like Gallup’s, I turned to the arts as a different way to connect with people. Mysteries have a long history of entangling readers in social issues (the legendary Murder on the Orient Express deals with wealth and justice). Since as a scientist I love the puzzles mysteries present, my choice was easy.

Death in a Hot Sea features amateur sleuth oceanographer Mara Tusconi. Smart, stubborn, and loyal, Mara suspects that a dear colleague’s climate change research has something to do with his murder. Mara risks her job when her smarmy boss forbids her investigation of the “accident” and drowning when she and her kayak are nearly run over by a motorboat.

The book brings readers into the unseen world of scientists trying to figure out what’s happening with global warming––and who are harassed by people with a lot to loose by the scientists’ discoveries. Through Mara’s experiences, readers also get a taste of life aboard research vessels, the Maine coast, and being on and under the water.

For more about environmental mysteries, read my essay published in Sisters in Crime’s First Draft, April 2014 issue.