Death Off Camera, B.M. Allsopp

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

Book number five in the Fiji Island Mystery series featuring local rugby hero, now policeman Inspector Joe Horseman and his team, this time investigating the death of a fit young reality TV star who dies most unexpectedly on a small island off the coast of Fiji, in the middle of filming a wildly popular show which features, for the first time, a Fijian contestant.

Readers who are new to this series would be able to step in at any point as the author here plays very fair with just enough personal background to get where Horseman, and his 2IC, DS Susie Singh, in particular are coming from. In this investigation there are, however, a few complications. For a start the victim died whilst participating in a "Survivor" like reality show, where the final contestants were alone on a small island off the coast. So it would seem that the likely suspects are a fairly contained number, but it turns out this may not be so. It also seems that somewhere in the group is a prankster, whose practical jokes have been getting a little too serious of late. There's also a TV producer who is sort of co-operative, but not, some very self-involved primary suspects, a big cast of potential secondary suspects what with the film crew, staging assistants, props people and all the others that go into making a TV production of this type and scale. Then there's the external pressure - this quickly becomes a very high profile case, based mostly on this being such a popular and well-loved TV series, a fact that had escaped Horseman more than a bit, being somewhat addicted to the watching of Rugby only on TV. 

You'll really get a feel for Joe Horseman and the working relationship he has with his team in this outing, particularly as promotion and a move is on the cards for DS Singh. You'll also get a feel for how important Horseman is to the people as a whole - his high status as a rugby player proceeds him wherever he goes. You can also expect to get a real feel for Fijian society as well, and the interactions between the indigenous population and the large Indian background community. The food isn't quite as predominate in this novel (which is probably just as well given it was very hard to read the earlier novels without pangs of hunger), but those meals that are described are intriguing. As is the lifestyle of these investigators - long hours, lots of work when a case is on, a lot of tea is made and drunk, a lot of talking and considering the possibilities occurs. 

You'll also be treated to more of Horseman and his friends attempts to improve the lives of a group of homeless street boys - getting them into a rugby club, giving them structure and something to work towards, especially now as he works towards a group home for them. From the references within all the books in this series, it sounds like homeless kids might be an issue in Fiji, and there are examples of the ways that people are working to improve the situation. 

Perhaps that's one of the best parts of the entire Fiji Island Mysteries series. A physically beautiful place, there's poverty and sadness as well as joy and calm. There's a real sense of the place and people, and there's a sense of hope and pride which shines through the character of Horseman, and his small band of colleagues.


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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 hit 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 Champion’s tangle of ambition, fantasy and greed before another player is eliminated - for good. This time, he stares failure in the face.

Review Death Off Camera, B.M. Allsopp
Karen Chisholm
Monday, February 19, 2024
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