'A compelling, atmospheric page turner with an authentic insight into Māori culture' Val McDermid
A DETECTIVE IN SEARCH OF THE TRUTH.
A KILLER IN SEARCH OF RETRIBUTION.
A CLASH BETWEEN CULTURE AND DUTY.
THE PAST NEVER TRULY STAYS BURIED.
Hana Westerman is a tenacious Māori detective juggling single motherhood and the pressures of her career in Auckland’s Central Investigation Branch. When she’s led to a crime scene by a mysterious video, she discovers a man hanging in a secret room. As Hana and her team work to track down the killer, other deaths lead her to think that they are searching for New Zealand’s first serial killer.
With little to go on, Hana must use all her experience as a police officer to try and find a motive to these apparently unrelated murders. What she eventually discovers is a link to an historic crime that leads back to the brutal bloody colonisation of New Zealand.
When the pursuit becomes frighteningly personal, Hana realises that her heritage and knowledge are their only keys to finding the killer.
But as the murders continue, it seems that the killer's agenda of revenge may include Hana – and her family . . .
WELCOME TO THE DARK SIDE OF PARADISE.
'Better the Blood touches on themes that have become increasingly urgent in recent years including the far-reaching impacts of colonialism and the often uneasy integration of identity and heritage into modern multicultural society. A tensely plotted, gritty crime novel that has the courage to force us all to rethink our relationship with the past' Vaseem Khan
‘As page-turning as it is eye-opening. An excitingly fresh perspective upon a world you thought you knew’ Ambrose Parry
‘Stunning. Better the Blood is a tremendous debut, and Hana Westerman, the Māori detective at the center of the story, instantly becomes one of the great characters in crime fiction on any continent. This novel has it all: a gripping mystery, complex and memorable characters, and timely social and cultural commentary. Don’t miss it’ David Heska Wanbli Weiden, author of Winter Counts
‘Packed with intricate detail about Maori history and culture, this tense and involving story ushers in a remarkable new detective’ Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail
‘This thought-provoking debut is a compelling, insightful and highly addictive read’ My Weekly
‘So chilling’ Crime Monthly
‘[A] stellar series launch . . . Immersed in modern-day technologies and with a keen sensitivity to cultural issues, this is a finely crafted page-turner. Bennett is a writer to watch’ Publishers Weekly (starred review)
'Bennett unflinchingly weaves together layers of fallout from New Zealand’s bloody colonization, enduring Māori culture, and gripping procedural details. Hopefully this compelling debut heralds the start of a long-running series' Booklist
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Writer and filmmaker Michael Te Arawa Bennett (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Whakaue) has long been fascinated by the darkest corners of New Zealand’s colonial past and justice system. His exceptional true crime book, In Dark Places, examined a gross miscarriage of justice that was predicated on racial profiling. In his first novel, Better The Blood, Bennett expertly tracks familiar ground with masterful characterisation and gripping emotional force. When Detective Senior Sergeant Hana Westerman encounters a crime scene with strange markings in blood, it kicks off an investigation that ties together a series of seemingly unconnected present-day murders and links them to the wrongful execution of a Māori chief in the 19th century. Bennett cleverly entwines social commentary on the seething consequences and pain of colonialism with artful twists and turns that crime fans will relish.
Bennett (In Dark Places: The Confessions of Teina Pora and an Ex-Cop's Fight for Justice) makes his fiction debut with a stellar series launch set in contemporary New Zealand that explores the devastating belated consequences of a horrific murder of a Maori chief by six British soldiers in 1863—an act preserved in a daguerreotype. The opening pages reveal the original crime, and it soon becomes apparent that a killer is enacting vengeance on the six soldiers' descendants. As the body count mounts, Bennett dramatically portrays the psychological fallout of age-old violence upon Auckland police detective Hana Westerman and a range of well-drawn secondary characters; and he convincingly reveals Hana's inner turmoil and the conflicts inherent among her roles of detective, Maori woman, ex-wife to the senior police officer, and mother to a talented, outspoken teen activist. Told in third person mainly from Hana's perspective but also from the perspectives of her daughter, the killer, and the victims, the narrative moves at a quick pace. Immersed in modern-day technologies and with a keen sensitivity to cultural issues, this is a finely crafted page-turner. Bennett is a writer to watch.