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Return to Blood

From the award-winning author of BETTER THE BLOOD comes the gripping new Hana Westerman thriller

Book #2 of Hana Westerman

About The Book


‘Another cracking, page-turning journey into another culture’ VAL McDERMID

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.


‘The vivid picture of ethnic cultural life alone marks out the book as special, but it’s Bennett’s control of a tense narrative that is key’ Financial Times

‘Evocative’ Crime Monthly

‘A confident, convincing work in a crowded genre’ NZ Listener

‘A powerful novel that stays in the mind long after it is finished’ Jeff Popple

‘His deep understanding of marginalised communities, family tensions and the travails of our justice system enrich the novel . . . Return to Blood shows a writer in full command of his material and which reaches deeper into our shared human experience. It also has a surprise ending few readers will be able to predict’ Greg Fleming

‘Even better (if possible!) than his searing debut – Michael Bennett’s latest, Return to Blood, had me moved to tears of empathy and rage within the first fifty pages. Richly evocative New Zealand detail, a take-no-prisoners female Maori detective and a riveting crime make for a sizzling and culturally important page-turner’ Alexandra Sokoloff

About The Author

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.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (April 25, 2024)
  • Length: 400 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781398512276

Raves and Reviews


'A cracking thriller; it also extends our sense of what crime fiction can do' Liam McIlvanney

'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)

'A remarkable new detective' Daily Mail

'[A] highly addictive read' My Weekly

'So chilling' Crime Monthly

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More books from this author: Michael Bennett

More books in this series: Hana Westerman