DEATH OFF CAMERA: Fiji Islands Mysteries 5

by B. M. Allsopp

Publisher: Coconut Press, 2023

Publisher’s blurb

A TV reality hit. Players dying to win. Can Inspector Joe Horseman penetrate a fantasy world to stop a killer?

The Champion crew is shooting the top-ranking TV game show near Suva. For the first time a Fijian is competing for the million-dollar prize and the whole population is ecstatic. Except for Inspector Joe Horseman, whose TV is tuned permanently to the rugby channel.

But when a fit young finalist dies, Horseman must enter the world of the TV reality shoot to investigate. It’s a world he struggles to understand, even with the help of the Champion fans on his team. Horseman must unpick the show’s tangle of ambition, fantasy and greed before another player is eliminated – for good. This time, he stares failure in the face.


by Jane Patrick

This is the fifth in a series of police procedurals set in Fiji written by indie author B.M. Allsopp. Detective Inspector Joe Horseman investigates the death of a contestant in a reality television series which is being filmed near Suva. One of five remaining contestants, Ken Johnson, has fallen during the night from a stone staircase leading up to a replica spirit house built by the production crew on a small offshore island. The investigation takes place over ten days against the background of beautiful Fiji. The colourful characters are involved in a Survivor-style series in which contestants are competing against each other in a series of challenges. 

Joe Horseman is a local hero due to his past success as a rugby player. One underlying storyline concerns his continued attempts to assist underprivileged young men through their involvement in a rugby team, the Junior Shiners, and the establishment of secure housing for them. He is also apparently attracted to the very able Detective Sergeant Susila (Susie) Singh who assists him in the investigation. Susie is in line for promotion and is dealing with the idea of a likely transfer away from Suva and the impact this might have on her growing relationship with Joe Horseman. Horseman’s involvements with the boys and Susie appear to be continued from the previous books which I have not read. In this book Joe and Susie’s fondness for each other is building but you’ll have to read the book to find out how that progresses.

The book is enlivened by the descriptions of the Fijian landscape and culture and the various machinations inherent in the making of a reality television series. It becomes clear that Ken Johnson’s death is not merely the result of one of the many pranks played during the filming. Despite his death and the ongoing police investigation, the producer decides to keep filming the series. The games between the contestants are more than physical and there are some tragic consequences. There are sufficient clues and plot twists to keep the reader entertained while trying to guess which of the diminishing cast of characters ‘dunnit’.

The characters are generally well drawn. Many of them are not very appealing which I suppose might be expected given their involvement in a reality television series.  Fortunately, Inspector Horseman is particularly likeable and very competent while somewhat lacking in confidence in personal matters. His connections with Fiji and its various cultures are deep and this is clear in his activities outside policing and in his relationships with his family and his friends. The author’s writing style is capable and direct and suits the police procedural genre. She provides insights into policing and life in Fiji with the added spice of insights into the making of location-based reality television. Recommended for readers who like police procedural murder mysteries and who are interested in finding out more about Fiji.