Two murders. Two decades apart. One chance to get justice.
Hana Westerman has left Auckland and her career as a detective behind her. Settled in a quiet coastal town, all she wants is a fresh start.
The discovery of a skeleton in the dunes near her house changes everything. The remains are those of a young Māori woman who went missing four years before, and Hana has a connection to the case. Twenty years ago, a schoolfriend of hers was found buried in the exact same spot. Her killer died in prison, but did the police get the wrong man? And if he was innocent, then why did he plead guilty?
No longer part of the Criminal Investigation Branch, Hana turns to her ex-husband Jaye, a high-flying Detective Inspector, for help. But when he cuts her out of the investigation, she realises that she will have to find the answers she needs on her own.
But in digging deeper, she sets herself on a potentially fatal collision course with a killer.
PRAISE FOR BETTER THE BLOOD:
'A compelling, atmospheric page turner with an authentic insight into Māori culture' Val McDermid
'A tensely plotted, gritty crime novel that has the courage to force us all to rethink our relationship with the past' Vaseem Khan
'Stunning . . . a gripping mystery, complex and memorable characters, and timely social and cultural commentary. Don’t miss it' David Heska Wanbli Weiden
'As page-turning as it is eye-opening' Ambrose Parry
'Opens a unique window onto a fascinating Antipodean society as only world-class crime fiction can' Deon Meyer
'A striking debut and a significant addition to Indigenous literature' Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
'[A] stellar series launch. Bennett is a writer to watch' Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Michael Bennett (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Whakaue) is an award-winning screenwriter, director and author. His first book, a non-fiction work telling the true story of New Zealand’s worst miscarriage of justice, In Dark Places, won Best Non-Fiction Book at the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Awards. Michael's second book, Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas,is a time-travel graphic novel co-authored with Ant Sang.
Better the Blood, the first Hana Westerman thriller, was shortlisted for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction/Ockham New Zealand Book Award, as well as being shortlisted for the Audio Book of the Year at the Capital Crime Fingerprint Awards. It was also longlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Debut Dagger and was a finalist for both Best First Novel and Best Novel at the 2023 Ngaio Marsh Awards.
Michael's short and feature films have won awards internationally and have screened at numerous festivals, including Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Locarno, New York, London and Melbourne. Michael is the 2020 recipient of the Te Aupounamu Māori Screen Excellence Award, in recognition of members of the Māori filmmaking community who have made high-level contributions to screen storytelling.
He lives in Auckland, Aotearoa (New Zealand), with his partner Jane, and children Tīhema, Māhina and Matariki.