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Better the Blood: A Hana Westerman Thriller (Paperback)

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Better the Blood: A Hana Westerman Thriller By Michael Bennett Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

I absolutely inhaled this book about a no-nonsense Maori detective who finds herself on the trail of New Zealand's first serial killer. It's an incredibly smart, chilling, and ultimately compassionate thriller about how the crimes of our ancestors can trickle down to poison the present with violence and how the decisions we make in the most pivotal moments stay with us throughout the years. It blends all the best hallmarks of a crime novel with a clear-eyed vision for what a thriller can be, and I cannot wait to read more of Hana Westerman's story.

— Rebecca

January 2023 Indie Next List

“Fast-paced and fascinating. Hana Westerman is a senior police detective, Māori, and a mother. It all comes into play in the chase for a serial killer intent on righting the wrongs of the colonial past. I hope this is the first of many!”
— Anne Holman, The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT


An absorbing, clever debut thriller that speaks to the longstanding injustices faced by New Zealand's indigenous peoples, by an acclaimed Māori screenwriter and directorA tenacious Māori detective, Hana Westerman juggles single motherhood, endemic prejudice, and the pressures of her career in Auckland CIB. Led to a crime scene by a mysterious video, she discovers a man ritualistically hanging in a secret room and a puzzling inward-curving inscription. Delving into the investigation after a second, apparently unrelated, death, she uncovers a chilling connection to an historic crime: 160 years before, during the brutal and bloody British colonization of New Zealand, a troop of colonial soldiers unjustly executed a Māori Chief.Hana realizes that the murders are utu--the Māori tradition of rebalancing for the crime committed eight generations ago. There were six soldiers in the British troop, and since descendants of two of the soldiers have been killed, four more potential murders remain. Hana is thus hunting New Zealand's first serial killer.The pursuit soon becomes frighteningly personal, recalling the painful event, two decades before, when Hana, then a new cop, was part of a police team sent to end by force a land rights occupation by indigenous peoples on the same ancestral mountain where the Chief was killed, calling once more into question her loyalty to her roots. Worse still, a genealogical link to the British soldiers brings the case terrifyingly close to Hana's own family. Twisty and thought-provoking, Better the Blood is the debut of a remarkable new talent in crime fiction.

About the Author

Michael Bennett (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Whakaue) is an award-winning screenwriter, director, and author whose films have been selections at major festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, and New York. His nonfiction book, In Dark Places, which explored an infamous miscarriage of justice, won awards, and his young adult graphic novel, Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas, was a finalist for the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780802162656
ISBN-10: 0802162657
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: January 9th, 2024
Pages: 352
Language: English

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