Really Dead begins with Pam, a reality show production assistant, finding a severed foot on a Caribbean beach. The ankle shows a tattoo resembling one belonging to another PA, Kate Bond, who has disappeared from the island. Is the foot a hoax or is Kate really dead?
J.E. Forman uses her experience as a television producer and screenwriter to create the setting for Really Dead, the first in a series featuring travel writer Ria Butler and her journalist boyfriend, Glenn Cooper. Ria receives a call from friend Rob Churcher, a camera operator on the reality show, which is produced by Ria’s kid brother, James. Rob suspects James is involved with Kate’s disappearance. After a frosty end to a holiday with Glenn, Ria flies to a hotel near the show’s location, where everyone assumes she is doing a hotel inspection or judging the contestants on the show.
Forman uses humour to illustrate the obstacles in the way of Ria’s clandestine investigation, such as cameras recording everyone’s moves. (At one point, Ria threatens to strip naked and “give your editor nightmares for years.”) But the antics of celebrities Ariel Downes and Chris Regent are overkill, with the exception of Regent’s talent for breaking and entering.
The use of multiple points of view helps to add suspense, especially when telecommunication blackouts impede Ria and Glenn’s ability to share information with one another. Overall, Really Dead stands as a satisfying series debut.