Synopsis: Cold Blood, Hot Sea

After five winter months stuck on land in Spruce Harbor, Maine, oceanographer MARA TUSCONI is overjoyed when she steps onto Research Vessel Endeavor. But hours into the cruise, Mara’s joy turns to horror as she watches a half-ton buoy free-fall onto her dear colleague PETER RILEY.

The death is ruled accidental, but Mara is suspicious. Ten years earlier her parents, famous ocean explorers, drowned in a submarine. Back then Mara was a graduate student whose doubts about the odd circumstances were dismissed as ramblings of a distraught daughter. But now she can act. Mara decides she owes it to Peter, and her parents, to investigate the unexplained death of this brilliant young oceanographer.

Mara’s godfather, ANGELO DE LUCA, begs Mara to leave investigating to experts. A foolish mistake could ruin her chance to take on her parents’ role as ocean defenders. Mara adores Angelo, but feeling guilty, she ignores his warning.

Peter did leave behind a promising lead. Sunnyside Aquaculture, a local start-up, claims to have created a “super-seaweed”––hyped as Maine’s perfect local fuel. Peter suspected fraud, so Mara needs to test the mysterious seaweed. When she visits Sunnyside, kindly owner JOHN HAMILTON apologetically explains the outdoor piers are off-limits to visitors.

To get her sample, Mara sea kayaks to the piers in icy April waters at night. Paddling back, she’s nearly run over by a motorboat. Mara assumes Sunnyside aquaculture scientist FRANK LAMARK, desperate to protect his secret, tried to swamp an unknown kayaker. If Peter suspected the seaweed hoax, did Frank pay someone on Endeavor to make Peter’s death look accidental?

The next day Frank attacks Mara in a deserted parking lot. Luckily, Angelo’s friend, CONNOR DOYLE, rescues her. Realizing she needs help, Mara enlists street-smart Connor. When analysis of the seaweed shows it’s not “super” at all, the mystified Mara and Connor stumble onto a crazy idea. Would an oil company pay Frank to perpetuate the hoax to undermine sustainable fuel research? Mara discovers that aggressive GEORGINA HAMILTON, John’s wife, is on the board of Pacific Petroleum, an enormous oil conglomerate. Georgina becomes a key suspect for the hoax and Peter’s death.

Meanwhile, an invitation to speak about climate change at a high profile meeting offers Mara a chance to step into her parents’ shoes. However, she’s secretly terrified of public speaking. Despondent, she admits this to Angelo, who reveals Mara’s mother suffered terrible stage fright. This knowledge gives Mara the inspiration to confront her greatest fear.

Mara’s speech is a success, but a “reporter” forces her to at gunpoint into a hotel room where two men are waiting. That one is JAKE, a nasty seaman on Endeavor, isn’t surprising. But MICKEY O’BRIEN, spritely first mate who regaled her with stories about Ireland, is a shocker. Jake tells Mara, “I’m gonna throw you into a seaweed tank so you drown”.

Jake ties Mara’s hands and feet, covers her head, and carries her to where Mickey waits in a van. Mara panics. Why didn’t she listen to Angelo?

Halfway up to Spruce Harbor when Jake stops for food, Mara asks Mickey to help her. Mickey tearfully explains his desperate need for money to save the family’s Irish farm. No scientist on the cruise was suppose to die, he says, only be frightened. Mara proposes an outrageous plan, which Mickey agrees to set in motion.

John Hamilton meets the van at Sunnyside. Dropping the affable ruse, John shows his true cruel nature and mocks Mara for nearly exposing the hoax. Outside on a pier, a laughing Jake hands Mara up to Mickey who throws her into the “super-seaweed” tank. Weighed down with lead, Mara plummets to the bottom. After a long minute, a scuba tank lands beside her, and Mara clamps her mouth around the regulator.

An hour later, a clean and dry Mara relaxes with Angelo and Connor. The police have left with Mara’s statement along with Mickey, Hamilton, and Jake. Mickey saved her life, and Mara will try to help him. Connor and Angelo describe their amazement at getting Mickey’s text message and how they got a scuba tank onto the pier so Mickey could toss it in for Mara.

Before she leaves Sunnyside, Mara looks out at the sea, feeling honored to have avenged Peter and her parents.