Better the Blood (Hardcover)

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Better the Blood By Michael Bennett Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

This intense thriller, set in New Zealand, introduces Hana Westerman, a police detective with plenty of personal baggage, especially as it relates to her current case.  A serial killer is out to avenge the wrongs of 150 years ago when British colonialists took over lands belonging to the indigenous Maori people. Hana is Maori herself, but -- as a member of the police department -- she is considered by the killer to be a traitor to her people. Using clues deliberately left by the killer, Hana and her colleagues are in a race to find him before he kills all six of his targeted victims. In addition to being kept on the edge of one's seat while reading, one will learn a lot about New Zealand's history and the Maori culture. Recommended. 

— Alice

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: 9780802160607
ISBN-10: 0802160603
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Publication Date: January 10th, 2023
Pages: 336
Language: English