Cold Blood, Hot Sea by Charlene D’Avanzo

Cold Blood Hot Sea

Charlene D’Avanzo has come up with a clever and entertaining way to teach us something about climate change: a novel featuring an intriguing who-done-it, plenty of tension, and a compelling story that kept me glued to the book for two evenings.

Cold Blood, Hot Sea, published by Torrey House Press, puts oceanographer Mara Tusconi in a very tough and life-threatening situation, involving everything from big oil to lobsters. It’s a great who-done-it, for sure, but I also enjoyed the details about climate change that D’Avanzo slides into the story.

After Mara’s friend Peter is killed in a very strange accident on board a research vessel, she becomes determined to figure out if it was an accident, and if not, then who killed him and why. She gets into some very dangerous situations herself, and I won’t spoil this by telling you more.

D’Avanzo created some compelling characters, and is especially good at writing dialogue, something I’ve tried to do and know is not at all easy. Set in Maine’s working waterfront, where lobsters are feeling the heat of climate change, I especially loved some of her real Maine characters. Ayuh.

Until I got this book, I knew nothing of Torrey House Press, but now I’m impressed. Torrey House is an independent nonprofit publisher promoting environmental conservation through literature. “We believe that culture is changed through conversation and that lively, contemporary literature is the cutting edge of social change,” they write in the postscript.

“We strive to identify exceptional writers (they got that right with D’Avanzo), nurture their work, and engage the widest possible audience (you can help with this one by purchasing and reading this book); to publish diverse voices with transformative stories that illuminate important facets of our ever-changing planet; to develop literary resources for the conservation movement, educating and entertaining readers (definitely accomplished with Cold Blood, Hot Sea!), inspiring action.”

Well, we’ll see about that final goal. In the meantime, you’ll really enjoy this novel. D’Avanzo is a marine ecologist and award-winning environmental educator who lives in Yarmouth. She dedicated the novel to “scientists struggling to understand extraordinarily complex phenomena associated with climate change. I was motivated to write Cold Blood, Hot Sea by stories of researchers maliciously targeted by climate change deniers.”

Good dedication. Great motivation. Wonderful novel.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.