Crippled Pelican

Michael Strickland

Book Cover

GENRE

ACTION ADVENTURE CRIME DRAMA MYSTERY

    Core Theme

    HATRED

    TIME PERIOD

    1960s & '70s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    HEART OF DARKNESS; TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY; THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER

    CHARACTER LIST

    JAKE JOHNSON: 30/40. LEAD. CURIOUS AND PERSISTENT.

    JUDY: 20. BUBBA’S DAUGHTER. HAS A BRIEF ROMANCE WITH JAKE.

    BUBBA:50S. JERRY’S BROTHER.

    JERRY: 50S. THE ASYLUM INMATE WHO TELLS JAKE THE TALE.

    JOHN: 60S. JAKE'S BOSS.

    SKEETER: 40S. JAKE MEETS HIM IN TOWN AND HEARS HIS VERSION OF EVENTS.

    Logline

    The story is about the mysterious sinking of a shrimp trawler off the Florida east coast with women and children aboard, some ten years before. The only survivor was the boat's captain, whom the government claimed was the person who sank the boat.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Mayport Florida

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Mayport Publishing Company

    Year Published: 2015

    Starting Description

    Begins with a local newspaper reporter investigating a mysterious sinking of a shrimp trawler ten years earlier.

    Ending Description

    The story ends after the reporter finally discovers the reason for the trawlers sinking ten years before with women and children aboard!

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Language/Profanity,Extreme Violence

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Tragedy,Voyage and Return

    Main Character Details

    Name: Jake

    Age: 40s

    Gender: Male

    Role: Skeptic

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Skillful

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Jerry

    Age: 40s

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Heroic,Faithful

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Jerry

    Age: 40s

    Gender: Male

    Role:

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Heroic,Secretive

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    This is a story of international implications that took place off the east coast of Florida. It is filled with mystery, adventure, intrigue that will keep an audience on edge until the very end of the story. It is truly written for more the big screen or cable tv.

    Genre

    SUSPENSE, DRAMA

    Brief

    Jake is confronted with a story after a grieving widow explains that her husband were involved in a shrimp boat cover up. Jake finds himself in a tiny, fishing community, trying to uncover the the story of what happened to Jerry, Bubba and their families. Jerry was the only survivor of the boat accident and has been locked away for 10 years. Jake learns about the fatal encounter with a Russian submarine and the US cover-up, giving peace to Jerry's brother, Bubba and his daughter, Judy.

    Overall Rating

    GOOD

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: GOOD

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Yes, the book profile accurately reflects the book.

    Draw of Story

    The story explains the plot from the beginning. Jake finds out about the shrimp boat accident from the widow and immediately starts to look into the story. There is a mystery presented that must be uncovered.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The dialogue is very dramatic and unrealistic at times. It feels stereotypical to the story and not unique to the characters. The sub plots feel unnecessary. Judy and Jake's relationship seems forced especially because he has no qualms about being married and sleeping with a young he just met. It doesn't add anything to the story. Towards the end, it's uncovered that Jake has a drinking issue that seemed to come out of left field.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The hook is that 10 years ago, a shrimp boat went down and the only survivor, the captain, was locked away in a mental institution. Jake, a journalist, tries to uncover what truly happened and why everyone involved was silenced. I would watch this story to see the mystery unfold.

    Fanbase Potential

    This could have a large fanbase because it has mystery, excitement and heartbreak. There is a solid revelation of the truth even though it is not done in any unique way. Everything ties together nicely at the end.

    Awards Potential

    This could have more awards potential if the story was more character driven. There are many great emotional scenes such as the one when Bubba is explaining what happened the day he searched for him family. Jerry has been locked up for 10 years without being able to see his family and being told he is crazy. His retelling of the events to Jake is a pivotal moment that could be heightened and given more focus.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    KNIVES OUT, HIS GIRL FRIDAY, LUTHER, ERIN BROCKOVICH

    What’s New About the Story

    The story is original because of events of the accident. It is slightly surprising because it involves a Russian submarine and a governmental coverup. Outside of that, it is very similar to many "mysterious accident" storylines.

    Lead Characters

    The lead character does not stand out. He is a handsome, white man with a great job. Jake is decently good at his job, but has a few flaws. He isn't very distinct, but works well with the story.

    Uniqueness of Story

    This is an entertaining mystery that has a solid story and is entertaining. The subplots could be eliminated such as the romance between Jake and Judy. It would add more suspense if it was more difficult for Jake to see Jerry and finally hear the true story.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Studio, Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation

    CONSIDER

    Justification

    This story is a solid mystery that will hold the audiences attention. If developed correctly, it will give many heart wrenching and emotional moments as well as a few thrills.

    Brief

    When a widow contacts reporter Jake Johnson about a passenger ship sinking over a decade ago, he doesn't expect much. Upon visiting the small town where the boat sank, however, Jake becomes embroiled in the mystery that has torn a family and a town apart. Nothing is as it seems on the surface as Jake discovers old secrets, government interference, espionage, and uncovers a massive conspiracy all centered around a sinking ship.

    What We Liked

    This was a fascinating, fresh mystery with a surprising but earned ending. There were juicy plot twists, steamy romances, and rewarding resolutions.

    Film: As a film, this would be a mystery with the fun feel of Knives Out but the gravity of something like Heart of Darkness. This would be a blockbuster that would leave audiences questioning everything after watching it.

    TV: As a television show, this would be a miniseries about the investigation where each episode would show the incident as Jake learns about it, from an individual's point of view.

    Key points:
    -Mystery
    -Plot twists
    -Romance
    -Rewarding ending
    -Strong characters

    Synopsis

    Reporter JAKE JOHNSON gets called into work by his boss, JOHN. A widow is there--a woman who recently lost her husband to a heart attack, but mentally lost him long ago. She claims that before her husband died, he was trying to prove that something fishy had gone down with a boat sinking ten years ago and that after he had rescued the lone survivor of the sinking ship, the coast guard had shipped him off somewhere to keep him quiet about it.

    Jake isn't sure if he believes the woman's story or not but he's a good reporter and goes to the town where the lone survivor of the ship, JERRY BENSON, lived--Mayport, Florida. He goes on the pretense that he's reporting about the bad shrimping season. He tells his wife, ALICE, that he'll be back in the morning. Once in Mayport, he meets a waitress, JUDY BENSON--upon hearing her last name, he's shocked at the coincidence, and asks if she knew Jerry Benson. Judy becomes upset and then apologizes, saying that it's a long, sad story.

    Jake finds himself attracted to Judy and makes plans to meet up with her later. She directs him to the local tavern and tells him to talk to a man named Skeeter. At the tavern, John learns Skeeter's version of events: Jerry Benson took his family out on labor day weekend with the plan to sink the boat and collect the insurance money, but something went wrong and BUBBA, Jerry's brother, wasn't able to rescue them in time, so everyone onboard died except Jerry, who got hauled off to the insane asylum. Judy arrives at the tavern and is furious with Skeeter, and promises to bring Jake to her father to hear the real version of events.

    Judy and Jake sleep together, and Jake believes he is more in love with Judy than he is with his own wife. The next morning, Jake meets Bubba, Jerry's brother. Bubba tells him that they never planned to sink the ship, The Crippled Pelican, as they loved that thing. Bubba said that Jerry took the whole family including Bubba's wife and infant child for a vacation fishing, and Bubba was supposed to meet up with them but couldn't get there in time due to a malfunctioning piece on his own ship that he failed to get fixed in time. He tells Jake that the Coast Guard declared Jerry a raving lunatic and unfit to be seen by anyone, so Jerry has been in a mental asylum for years without any contact with Bubba or Judy or anyone of the outside world. Bubba tried with many lawyers over the years to see Jerry, to no avail. Jake tells Bubba that he may be able to pull some strings with his newspaper and get in to see Jerry. Bubba gives Jake a note to give to Jerry to prove that Jake is trustworthy.

    John is able to get Jake into the asylum to see Jerry, but Jake has to pretend that he's a doctor. TEDDY, the nervous orderly, allows Jake into Jerry's room. Jerry is dying of cancer and is very weak, almost unable to talk, but he slowly regains his strength as he tells his version of events. Jerry tells the same story as Bubba, but time runs out, and Jake has to pull some strings to come back for more information the next day. The next day, Jerry tells Jake about how their ship, The Crippled Pelican, picked something large up in its trawling nets--at first, they thought it was a whale, but soon, they realized it was a submarine. The passengers of the submarine asked to come aboard, and Jerry and the family welcomed them aboard, only to discover that they were not American seamen, but Russians. The Russians killed everybody onboard except for Jerry and his infant daughter, who escaped on a hatch. The Russians burnt up The Crippled Pelican. Jerry was stranded in the ocean for two days, during which time he lost his infant daughter. Eventually, the Coast Guard picked him up. Jerry was placed in an insane asylum and visited by some government workers who told him that the U.S. couldn't afford to get into WWIII because of a boating accident, so the President had decided to let Jerry and his daughter die, but they had to lock Jerry up so that no one would hear his story because of the international outrage it would cause. Teddy ushers Jake out and Jake is pursued by government officials--while on the run, he hears an APB put out that says that Jake is an escapee from the asylum who has killed a man. Jake makes it to Mayport, where he delivers a letter from Jerry to Bubba and tells Bubba and Judy Jerry's version of events. They take the ship out to the coordinates on Jerry's paper and discover a barnacle-covered Russian rifle at the bottom of the sea, proving Jerry's version of events. Bubba declares that now that he knows the truth, the hatred has evaporated from his heart, and Jake decides that the juicy story isn't worth putting Judy and Bubba through more pain. The Coast Guard boards their boat and Jake tells them that they were unable to verify any of Jerry's claims and believed him to be insane. The Coast Guard also informs the group that Jerry died that morning. The uniformed men make everyone sign papers that they won't speak of this ever again.

    About The Author

    Michael Strickland was born in Mayport, Florida. He was in the restaurant business most of his adult life, operating the locally famous Strickland seafood chain, dating back to 1935.