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Better the Blood
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Grove Atlantic 2023
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Description

An absorbing, clever debut thriller that speaks to the longstanding injustices faced by New Zealand's indigenous peoples, by an acclaimed Māori screenwriter and director

A 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.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/10/2023
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780802160614
ASIN:
B0B52D8S1J

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Michael Bennett. (2023). Better the Blood. Grove Atlantic.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Michael Bennett. 2023. Better the Blood. Grove Atlantic.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Michael Bennett, Better the Blood. Grove Atlantic, 2023.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Michael Bennett. Better the Blood. Grove Atlantic, 2023.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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Date Added:
Jan 06, 2023 16:28:21
Date Updated:
Dec 20, 2023 12:27:20
Last Metadata Check:
Jun 12, 2024 11:48:59
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fullDescription

An absorbing, clever debut thriller that speaks to the longstanding injustices faced by New Zealand's indigenous peoples, by an acclaimed Māori screenwriter and director

A 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.

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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 1, 2022

        From Māori screenwriter/director Bennett, this debut thriller features stubborn Māori detective Hana Westerman, constantly rejiggering her work-life balance as she hunts down New Zealand's first serial killer. The killings soon prove to be retribution for the execution of a Māori leader during the country's bloody colonial past, and for Hana things get personal.

        Copyright 2022 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from November 7, 2022
        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.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        December 1, 2022
        Eighteen years ago, the Auckland police force placed Māori officers on the front lines of the violent removal of Māori protesters attempting to reoccupy their sacred mountain. Now Detective Senior Sergeant Hana Westerman faces her own culpability and the greater legacy of that day as a killer seeks retribution disguised as an act of ""utu,"" a Māori tradition involving the restoration of balance. A video from an anonymous email address leads Hana to a body posed with a daguerreotype of English soldiers celebrating a Māori chief's murder. The victim turns out to be the descendant of one of the pictured soldiers, and Hana realizes she's racing a serial killer to identify the soldiers' bloodlines. Wielding uncanny investigative instinct, Hana identifies Māori rights law professor Poata Raki as the killer. Unfortunately, Hana's efforts to stop Raki are complicated by trumped-up allegations of excessive violence, her teenage daughter's rebellion, and the contradictions inherent in being a Māori cop. 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.

        COPYRIGHT(2022) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        October 1, 2022

        DEBUT In this riveting debut thriller from award-winning screenwriter, director, and true-crime author Bennett (In Dark Places: The Confessions of Teina Pora and an Ex-Cop's Fight for Justice), a serial killer is terrorizing the citizens of Auckland, New Zealand. With each death, a video of the victim's location is sent directly to Detective Senior Sergeant Hana Westerman, adding to the turmoil in her already complicated life. Early in her career, a protest that pitted the police against the Ma�ori led to a guilt-stricken Hana being shunned by her Ma�ori family. With work as her only constant, Hana's job is now in jeopardy, a result of an altercation following a court case. At home, her teenage daughter is becoming more rebellious. And although separated for years, her husband, who also happens to be her boss, is pressuring her to sign divorce paperwork. Now Hana must stop a killer before their focus turns on her family. VERDICT Bennett (who is Ma�ori and of Te Arawa descent) deftly illuminates the historical plight of the Ma�ori people and its continuing effects in New Zealand. His action-packed narrative, blended with various cultural references, recalls the novels of Tony and Anne Hillerman, Craig Johnson, and William Kent Krueger.--Joy Gunn

        Copyright 2022 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from November 1, 2022
        Hana Westerman, an Auckland cop with Māori roots, goes up against an Indigenous serial killer looking to avenge England's brutal oppression of New Zealand's native people 160 years ago. "Better the blood of the innocent than none at all," says the killer, for whom the horrors of the past are kept alive by the daguerreotype of six British soldiers celebrating with the corpse of a tribal chief hanging behind them. His plan is to kill six people with ties to the original offenders. The case awakens Hana's deep guilt over roughly policing fellow Māori during a land rights protest 18 years ago, in particular a silver-haired woman Hana later learns is the mother of the serial killer, Poata James Raki, a distinguished legal professor suspended for his increasingly radical views. Jaye Hamilton, Hana's ex-husband and superior on the force, assures her she was just doing her job at the protest, but their 17-year-old daughter, Addison, an activist pop singer who was one of Raki's most admiring students, is appalled her mother did such a thing. It's a falling-out the killer is all too happy to exploit. However heinous his actions, Raki is in full, articulate command of the truth regarding the past and present--and Hana knows it. Making his fiction debut, Māori screenwriter and director Bennett establishes himself as an excellent storyteller. As well executed as the murder story is (an unneeded subplot aside), the book's immersion in tribal culture and history makes the greatest impact, lending complexity and sweep to the narrative. Bennett's use of Indigenous terms and names (while providing a running glossary) adds to the novel's resonance. One can only hope this is the beginning of a series. A striking debut and a significant addition to Indigenous literature.

        COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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An absorbing, clever debut thriller that speaks to the longstanding injustices faced by New Zealand's indigenous peoples, by an acclaimed Māori screenwriter and director

A 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...

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