The Black Widow
by Lee-Anne Cartier (Penguin, $38)
Reviewed by Judith Morrell Nathan
Lee-Anne Cartier is the sister of the Christchurch man found to have been murdered by his wife, Helen Milner, after an initial assumption by police that his death, in 2009, was suicide. The case created a lot of interest when it eventually came to court four years later and was one of New Zealand’s most publicised murder trials. The fact that this book is listed in the top ten for sales and that New Zealand on Air is funding a movie shows there is still much interest.
Cartier reached her conclusions early on, as she found discrepancies in what her sister-in-law was telling her. This book explains how, over a period of years with frequent visits to Christchurch from Queensland, where she lived, Cartier persuaded the police to undertake further investigations and change their minds. With admirable persistence, she questioned neighbours, workmates and members of the extended family, checked texts and emails, and repeatedly reported Milner’s inconsistent stories and unusual behaviour to the police. She confided in many people over the years, often finding they shared her opinion. She pays tribute to a number of people without whose help her quest would not have succeeded.