Death Island, by Joan Conning Afman: Reality TV Hits a New Low

5 out of 5 stars: “When reality television replaces justice, Danny Manning is forced to play the game. Death Island follows Danny as he’s sentenced to the Titular TV show, wrongfully convicted of slaying his wife. Facing psychopaths, TV hosts, the clergy, and much more, Danny’s struggle to survive is anything but normal. Death Island is a humorous and suspenseful novel, sure to entertain for hours.”

—Midwest Book Review

“The drama and action were well-mixed with the emotional aspects which resulted in an excellent book. Death Island will definitely be enjoyed by fans of reality shows, but it will appeal to adults of all ages.”

—Leslie Granier for Reader Views

Death Island mixes together an adult Lord of the Flies and Roman Coliseum premises with Survivor rules inside of the Schwarzenegger movie The Running Man. The story line is at its best on the island where plants and animals, especially two legged, stalk …. Fans will enjoy wondering whether the protagonist will escape from Death Island.”

—Harriet Klausner


Also Available in Kindle and other eBook editions on Smashwords

Death Island (ISBN: 978-1-60381-849-0, 232 pp., $13.95), by Joan Afman, is a suspense novel about a wrongly convicted prisoner who must fight for his life on a reality TV show.

“Be prepared for twists and turns—a psychologically complex plot that will keep you guessing what’s going to happen until the very end!”

—Award-winning Romantic Suspense author Mary Buckham

Death Island is a fast-paced, engaging story with a riveting plot, well-drawn characters, and a premise that is sure to entertain.  Ms. Afman has created a fascinating read that will keep you awake at night.”

—Patrice Wilton, author of Replacing Barnie and The Hero Collection

“Joan Afman has taken reality television to the next level, penning an intriguing tale guaranteed to keep readers on the edge.”

—Traci E. Hall, author of Boadicea’s Legacy

“Death Island grabs the reader from the onset, with an innocent man condemned to live out his life on an island for convicted criminals. The pace of the story never lets up, with heart-pounding action and drama, as Danny, an innocent man, faces unbelievable odds just trying to survive. In the meantime, a minister’s wife sets out to prove he is innocent, while unaware that the real murderer is stalking her! The drama builds to an exciting and surprising conclusion. This is one of those rare ‘can’t put it down’ books.”

—Tricia Lee, author of contemporary romances: A Caribbean Summer, Amorous Ambush and Colorado Destiny

Wrongly convicted of the brutal murder of his wife, Danny Manning is exiled to Death Island, the site of America’s favorite reality TV show. Death Island is Hell disguised as Paradise, a place where no one gets off alive unless the audience vote goes his way. Danny’s day-to-day survival depends on a brilliant and hilarious psychopath who knows the ropes. But his ultimate fate lies in the hands of a clergyman’s quirky wife, a smarmy TV host, and Death Island’s fickle home viewers. If voted “off the island,” he will be free, innocent or not. Can he stay alive that long? And will he ever discover the identity of the real murderer?

“I took the idea from something my mother once said,” says Afman, “that the government should take all the convicted rapists and murderers and drop them off on a deserted island to let them fend for themselves. As for choosing a minister’s wife as my heroine, I know something about that life, because I was one. I thought she would be the least likely to help a convicted felon, but also the most likely, if she had a strong sense of right and wrong.”

Joan Conning Afman grew up in central New York State and Western Massachusetts and attended schools in both regions. She has an AA degree from SUNY, Farmingdale, a BFA from the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, and an M.A.Ed. degree from CCSU in New Britain, Connecticut. For sixteen years she taught art in the Hartford Public School System before retiring to Florida, where she taught as an adjunct for Northwood University. Joan now divides her time between painting and writing, enjoying the Sunshine State’s balmy weather and various social activities. The cover of Death Island is her art work. She has often been told that she “has quite an imagination,” and Death Island is certainly a testament to that. She has written one previous novel, The Last Time We Were Here. Joan has four wonderful children and six beautiful grandchildren, is thoroughly enjoying life, and continues to believe that the best is still ahead. You can find Joan online at

Death Island is available in Kindle ($4.95) and paperback editions on,,,, Amazon Japan, and at select Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores. Bookstores and libraries can order by contacting or through Ingram. Other electronic versions can be purchased on Smashwords, or at any of the major online ebook stores.

Keep Reading for an excerpt:

Charlie and the others laughed as the screen faded out, then blinked on again, showing a view of Death Island from space.

“There are the infamous red cliffs,” Charlie noted. The camera skimmed along the river, headed toward the cliffs like a bird heading home, then froze. A view of a cave carved into the cliffs appeared.

“Where is Danny?” asked Heather. “Didn’t he find the cave?”

The camera peered closer, probed the areas around the cave. Nothing, no one. It was obvious Danny Manning had eluded them. Charlie felt a nudge of apprehension. She just wanted a glimpse of him, just to know he was okay.

The camera skipped along until it came to a thread of a small meandering stream, thinly bordered by woods, with patches of brambles along its banks. A movement in one of the thickets caused the camera to pause.

“We’ve hit pay dirt!” Heather exclaimed.

It’s Tom,” Sarah said, leaning forward. “He’s pushing his way out of that bed of brambles he slept in.”

“Who cares about him?” Mindy asked. “We want Danny!”

There was a chorus of “yeahs,” but the women watched as Tom looked warily around, then made his way to the edge of the brook. He bent heavily, splashed water over his face and arms, cupped his hands and drank some of it. With effort, he straightened up and again looked around. Suddenly his face collapsed like a doughy cookie, and tears gushed from his eyes. He threw his arms up toward the sky and implored, directly into the tiny camera hidden in the tall, tropical palm tree, “Do you think I deserve this? To die all alone here, to be murdered in some horrible way for what I did? Was what I did so bad?” He lowered his arms and spread them wide, palms open. “Nobody got hurt. Not like Danny’s victims! I’m not like Danny! I don’t deserve to die here!”

Tom collapsed to the ground in a rumpled, rounded heap. Sobs shook his corpulent body. Fascinated, they watched him cry.

“This is good dip, Charlie,” Mindy commented. She dug a corn chip into the colorful mixture. “What’s in it?”

“Oh, cream cheese, chili sauce, onion—”

She was interrupted by Sarah. “Look! Over there, at the edge of the woods …”

The camera sought a slight movement in the trees. They caught a fleeting glimpse of a man’s shape, but it drew back into the dark of the woods almost immediately.

“Danny?” breathed several of the women together.

Charlie wondered why she didn’t feel her usual thrill of satisfaction watching one of these pathetic guys getting just what he deserved. Instead, her apprehension about Danny grew. Was he all right? He seemed like such a nice guy—could they have made a mistake in branding him the killer?

They watched the camera shift back to Tom, who had blocked his eyes with his fists. As if sensing the figure in the woods, he swiveled around on his ample bottom, and gazed toward the tree line. Had he heard a sound, seen a hint of movement? He rose slowly, his eyes fixed on the trees. He picked up his knapsack and back-walked to the bramble patch, his eyes never leaving the woods. He tossed his backpack into the center of the thicket. Tom stood and gazed in all directions for several minutes. Then, shuffling like an old man, he began to retrace his steps.

Charlie, eyes glued to the screen, had only one thought: where was Danny? Was he all right?

“It’s kind of boring tonight,” Mindy said. “I think I’ll head out. I really have to have this recipe Charlie—”

She was interrupted by a combined whoop from Charlie and Sarah. “Look! There’s Danny!” Sarah leapt up and bounced around like the vivacious cheerleader she had once been. “Give me a D!”

A dark figure emerged from the woods, stood there and stared after Tom’s retreating figure.

It wasn’t Danny. They watched as the man inched his way out of the copse of trees and observed Tom as he trudged off in the direction he had trekked the day before. He strode easily to the brink of the little brook and, like Tom, bent down, cupped his hands and drank. They stared, entranced, as he stood, and for one mesmerizing moment, appeared to gaze directly into the camera lens.

Charlie gasped, and heard Mindy’s “Oooh,” a long sigh from Heather, and Sarah’s quick intake of breath all at the same time.

His golden hair crowned a chiseled face, and his sky-blue eyes stared defiantly into the camera. Tall, taut, and rangy, he was muscular but thin. His clothing was worn and shabby. A large rip exposed one brown shoulder, jutting through a hole that looked like it had been cut with pinking shears.

“Martin Sicilia, might have known,” Charlie said. “We haven’t seen him in a while.”

“I wonder why he doesn’t have a beard,” Heather mused. “How does he shave it off?” Her question went unanswered.

Martin hesitated a moment, then grinned, as if knowing he was being watched.

Slowly, pantomiming a striptease, he pulled off his shirt, moving in time to some unheard music. He raised one sinewy shoulder, than the other, turned slowly around, assumed a Greek statue pose, like a discus thrower, then another, like a hero accepting a laurel wreath.

The women laughed and clapped their hands. “He always puts on such a show!” Heather said.

Martin slowly, with great deliberation, removed his shorts. He wore nothing underneath. He stood there, preening, in his naked glory, his grin wide as all the earth, as he turned to show them all views of himself.

“Why do they always put a blur over the private parts?” Sarah asked with a tinge of irritation. “We’re all grownups here. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and besides, we paid for it.”

Mindy seemed to have forgotten about leaving. Heather sat with a hand over her mouth, appalled, but also laughing. Sarah and Charlie stared, fascinated.

“He’s gorgeous, just gorgeous!” Sarah breathed, and everyone else nodded in spellbound agreement.

Martin strolled over to the waterfall and let the cool water flow over the taut, muscled contours of his body. If anything, the water falling over his bronzed muscles made the scene even more erotic. Martin mimed for the camera, pretending to rub soap on his arms and legs then rinse it off. Pretended to shampoo his hair, lather it up, and rinse it off. It was only when he began to masturbate that the camera cut away, back to the show’s host in the studio.

“Well,” Pierre LeGrande said, trying unsuccessfully to hide a smirk, “that Martin Sicilia, he never disappoints! Now, before we return to Death Island for tonight’s final glimpse into the lives of these unfortunate condemned men, let’s hear this important message from our sponsor.”

Heather flicked open the tab on her Diet Coke. “Yeah,” she said. “I’m sure they could use some blood pressure meds.”

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