Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangmans son -- except that the town physicians son is hopelessly in love with her. And her fathers wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years War has finally ended, and there hasnt been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin. Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, Magdalena, and her would-be suitor to race against the clock to find the true killer. Approaching Walpurgisnacht, when witches are believed to dance in the forest and mate with the devil, another tattooed orphan is found dead and the town becomes frenzied. More than one person has spotted what looks like the devila man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctors son face a terrifying and very real enemy. Taking us back in history to a place where autopsies were blasphemous, coffee was an exotic drink, dried toads were the recommended remedy for the plague, and the devil was as real as anything, THE HANGMAN'S DAUGHTER brings to cinematic life the sights, sounds, and smells of seventeenth-century Bavaria, telling the engrossing story of a compassionate hangman who will live on in readers imaginations long after theyve put down the novel.
- ISBN-13: 9780547745015
- ISBN-10: 054774501X
- Publisher: Harpervia
- Publish Date: August 2011
- Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Page Count: 448
The tale of a detective executioner
The Hangman’s Daughter, written by a descendent of the very family this historical mystery features, was already an international bestseller before being released in the U.S. And it’s not hard to see why; the novel’s page-turning plot keeps readers guessing, and the setting—1689 Bavaria—is no slouch, either.
While the book is called The Hangman’s Daughter, the character who seems to interest author Oliver Pötzsch the most is the hangman himself, Jakob Kuisl. A hulking creature who is ambivalent about his career as a state-approved murderer, the hangman proves to be smarter, faster, stronger, more sensitive, more decisive and (against all odds) the best doctor in town. Despite these remarkable credentials, he is also an outcast: lowly, disrespected and considered a sign of bad luck.
Our hangman has an unusual case on his hands. A group of orphans is being murdered one by one, and the town suspects the midwife of witchcraft. Tattoos that feature a witch’s sign in elderberry juice on the shoulders of the victims terrify the townspeople and stir up talk of a witch hunt. Meanwhile, a certain treasure has gone missing, and a group of itinerant soldiers seems to be pulling off all kinds of minor disturbances. Can the hangman and his friend Simon, a physician, figure out who really killed the orphans in time to save the wrongly accused midwife? Or is the midwife perhaps not what she seems?
Readers who like a plot-driven story with identifiable heroes and villains will be drawn to this ambitious novel. And unlike some stories in the genre, The Hangman’s Daughter only gets better as the climax approaches—an exciting duel between the hangman and his nemesis. It truly delivers the thing so many of us look for in our novels: entertainment.