Better the Blood: A Hana Westerman Thriller (Hardcover)
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
Looking for a new mystery series to start a new year? Even better, how about one that takes you to an unusual locale, and fills you in on culture and history you most likely never explored? Then, Michael Bennett’s Better the Blood, published 1/10/23) fits you to a T.
The Māori screenwriter and director (aka Michael Te Arawa Bennett) plunges us into the darker side of New Zealand and its history regarding its treatment of its indigenous people in his debut thriller. Māori detective Hana Westerman is deliberately led into a series of bizarre murders, signaling that New Zealand’s first serial killer is on the Auckland streets. More disturbing to Hana, she realizes the killings are being done according to a Māori tradition, one calling not for justice, but a ‘rebalancing’ to respond to long-ago savagery perpetrated by British troops. There will be more victims.
Hana has more to balance on her own plate. She’s raising a teenage daughter, who’s more connected to the killing spree than either realize, and her ex-husband is also her boss. She soon realizes she’s being singled out by the killer because of her involvement 20 years before in a police action against indigenous protesters. Her actions that day still shame her, and are meaningful to the killer.
Better the Blood reveals the mastermind’s identity early on. Readers are part of the cat-and-mouse action, and may find themselves more sympathetic to the killer than they’d ever expect. I’m looking forward to more cases with Hana Westerman.— Rosemary