Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book Review: The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

✰✰✰✰ The year is 1659 in Schongau, Germany and the world is a different place filled with superstition and fear of witchcraft. A series of unspeakable crimes have recently been committed against the orphans of the town. One by one they are found murdered and the rest are missing. Fear quickly permeates the town and the midwife, Martha Stechlin, is quickly accused of being both a witch and a murderer. She is taken into custody, and it is the hangman's duty to extract a confession from her.

While others are quick to rush to judgment, the hangman, Jakob Kuisl, does not believe that the woman who brought his children into this world could be capable of such horrific crimes. However, without any evidence to the contrary, Kuisl is forced to continue with the torture.  As the intensity of the torture escalates, Kuisl's resolve to find the real murderer strengthens.

Thus, begins Kuisl's quest to solve the crimes with the help of his beautiful daughter, Magdalena, and her admirer, Simon Fronwieser, a young physician who will stop at nothing to impress Kuisl. Together the trio must find the missing children and solve the murders before it is too late for Martha Stechlin.

The Bottom Line: This story takes many complicated twists and turns and has multiple protagonists. Riveting and spellbinding, Oliver Pötzsch's debut novel is a fast-paced thriller. Additionally, this book provides an interesting look at life in 17th century Bavaria. Also, I found the role of the executioner and his knowledge of anatomy and herbs to be fascinating.

Overall, The Hangman's Daughter is highly recommended for mystery buffs, fans of thrillers and those interested in historical fiction. Also, those who enjoy trying something a little bit different may enjoy it as well. However, it is important to note that due to the descriptions of torture and child murder, this book is not for the meek. That being said, this book is fascinating and I, for one, am definitely looking forward to the next installment, The Dark Monk, which is scheduled to be released this summer.

Details: The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch. Paperback published by AmazonCrossing in 2010. 448 p. ISBN: 978-1-935597-05-6

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