Return to blood by Michael Bennett

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From the author of Better the Blood, comes a thrilling second novel featuring Maori detective Hana Westerman, who has turned in her badge and is living in her hometown of Tata Bay with her father Eru. When her daughter Addison uncovers the skeleton of a young woman buried in the dunes where another young woman had been buried twenty years previously, Hana is convinced that the Maori man who was convicted of the earlier crime may have been innocent. She cannot stop herself from investigating the murders even though she is not currently a member of the police force and has no official capacity.

Return to blood is told from multiple viewpoints that keep the reader glued to the page. There is the haunting voice of Kira, a young woman who is a drug addict, told in separate chapters and different print. She had disappeared four years earlier and is believed to have been found in the dunes. The ongoing investigation is told from Hana’s perspective, while Addison who found the body is having dreams of a young woman who cannot let go.

Maori culture features strongly in the story with words being explained in footnotes. The title Return to blood is evocative of Hana’s need to return to her Maori roots, but she is unable to discard her skills as a police officer. Can she blend the two? And can Addison discover why she is having vivid dreams about the victim?

The police procedures and the investigative skills that Hana displays will keep any lover of mysteries satisfied with an unexpected denouement while the relationships in the book between the strong women and Hana and her father Eru, will add emotional depth. Readers would gain a deeper insight into the characters if Better the blood is read first and those who enjoyed The lovely bones by Alice Sebold may find Kira’s narrative compelling.

Themes: Murder, Detectives, Maori culture.

Pat Pledger