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‘Black Hands: Inside the Bain Family Murders’

by Martin van Beynen

Published by Penguin Books (NZ). Paperback, 304 pages.

When journalist Martin van Beynen started writing Black Hands, a book about the fatal Bain family shootings in 1994, he wondered if he could finally nail who did it.

The veteran reporter, who covered David Bain’s second trial in 2009 and started his journalism career in Dunedin in 1989, said starting on the book was delayed by the Christchurch earthquakes and a bout with cancer.

“I procrastinated for a long time but it wouldn’t leave me alone.”

Van Beynen said that after the trial and the compensation hearing, he thought a book written by someone other than a David Bain advocate was really needed.

“I finally settled down to the job in 2014. I have a pretty full on job as a senior reporter for The Press and Stuff so I had to fit it into my spare time.”

Van Beynen, 62, said he wrote the book mainly as a personal project and to remove a tiger from his back.

“It had to be either Robin or David and I guess I was driven by a feeling that this was story that needed to be told fully to be fair to everyone and I also wondered if I could solve the case once and for all. That buried in all the material was the vital clue and I just needed to do the work. I also wanted to test my own initial conclusions from covering the second trial.

“This is just an incredible if terrible New Zealand story that won’t go away. It was a horrendous crime but it has so many elements that make it such an enduring story. It doesn’t look as if it will ever be resolved. Without disrespecting the continuing pain for the families, it remains a classic whodunnit.

“I’ve tried to come to some sort of verdict. Some won’t agree but readers can see my reasons and come to their own conclusion.”

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