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In Dark Places: The confessions of Teina Pora and an ex-cop’s fight for justice by Michael Bennett


5.0 (4 reviews)


He confessed to a crime he didn’t commit and spent 21 years in jail. How did it happen?

Teina Pora, a 17-year-old car thief, was wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Susan Burdett, who had been beaten to death with the softball bat she kept next to her bed for her own protection

Tim McKinnel, en ex-cop turned private investigator, discovered the long forgotten case 18 years later, saw an injustice had been done and set out to win Teina’s freedom.

Reaching from the mean streets of South Auckland to the highest court in the Commonwealth, this is the story not just of Tim’s quest, but also of how an innocent man who was left rotting in a prison cell for two decades found the inner strength to rise above the dark places to which he had been condemned.


 “Amazing. Almost novel-like in its writing… Deeply affecting… Beautifully pulls together all the elements of the case in one very cleverly crafted history… The book made me laugh and cry… Comprehensive and impressive.” Paula Penfold – Fairfax Media (April 2016)

“Pacy, accessible and important. A bracing read.” Russell Brown – (March 28, 2016)

“A compelling true crime story. In Dark Places puts our justice system under the microscope… Enough intrigue to rival any of the top rating true crime drama series…” Aroha Awarau – Mana Magazine (April 2016)

“A hell of a read.” Eleanor Black – The Dominion Post (March 18, 2016)

“Reading this book has shaken my faith in the New Zealand justice system… an extraordinary read. Extraordinarly important.” Jack Tame – Newstalk ZB (March 19 2016).

“A fascinating book… The author does an incredibly good job… This book does something other true crime books don’t – gives a human side to the story… A gripping read.” Chris Gallavin – Nine to Noon Radio New Zealand, National Radio (May 9 2016).

“Written in the style of a non-fiction novel in the present tense… (The book) takes the reader inside the minds of the key figures in this tragic case… Bennett creates such tension with his writing…” Don Rowe – Mana Magazine (April 2016)

“It tells the whole story and not just the bits and pieces that have been in the media” Teina Pora (April 2016)

4 reviews for In Dark Places: The confessions of Teina Pora and an ex-cop’s fight for justice by Michael Bennett

  1. Mathew Innes

    If it happened to you, in what ever way how would you cope being innocent but made guilty and kept in the dark while the guilty one lives in the light?! An amazing story that’s haunting, but thoroughly captivating. Everyone should have the right to real justice from a system that’s not manipulated by people involved within that system… Wow ! Respect to Teina and his daughter for standing strong through the highs and lows over those years.

  2. Robin Palmer

    Very well written in accessible style- yet accurate and convincing. Highly recommended- Professor Robin Palmer.

  3. Monique

    Couldn’t put it down…a gripping and illuminating portrayal of a flawed system and the determination that justice be served.
    Devastatingly sad as well, Teina’s life was put on hold and Susan’s life was lost, and families suffered. Very well written, I enjoyed the interplay between different cultures and facets of the law and life.

  4. Grant H

    This is an exceptional read that asks serious questions about our legal processes in NZ. It’s extremely well written and is the kind of book I couldn’t put down. There are so many themes that are left unexplored about Teina Pora’s life (particularly around forgiveness and the human ability to cope with injustice) that there could easily be a sequel; these themes simply add to the ongoing effect of this book. I loved (& hated) it.

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