Thursday, March 10, 2011

Recently Read - The Hangman's Daughter

 The Hangman's Daughter
Oliver Pötzsch

The Hangman's Daughter

I want to thank Helen Hanson, author of 3 Lies, for submitting today's Recently Read post.
I recently read THE HANGMAN’S DAUGHTER by Oliver Pötzsch.  I tend to click things without waiting for a response.  Consequently, I purchased this book by accident on my Kindle.  I even clicked past the “Purchased by Accident?” link, so I was stuck.  Or so I thought.
One of the ways I judge any book is the speed at which I read it.  The first chapter kept pace with any roller coaster.  The main character is a Bavarian executioner who doubles as the local herbalist. Vivid description, a compelling plot, and lively characters kept my thumb on the “NEXT PAGE” button for the duration. 
In Europe, the trade of executioner was passed on from father to son like many other trades.  The author Oliver Pötzsch is a descendant of a Bavarian executioner.  He studied family documents during his research, so the details are rich, personal, and offer a fresh glimpse into the psyche of a man who made a living from torture. 
Here’s a one-line synopsis of THE HANGMAN’S DAUGHTER:  When a boy mysteriously dies, the Hangman takes the local midwife prisoner for being a witch, before the vigilantes kill her.  The novel is translated from the original German text and takes place during the 17th century.  The setting, descriptions, and routines of the characters felt real. Reading THE HANGMAN’S DAUGHTER made me appreciate anew my stint on earth during a more modern era.

Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play in his small Bavarian town. Whispers and dark memories of witch trials and the women burned at the stake just seventy years earlier still haunt the streets of Schongau. When more children disappear and an orphan boy is found dead—marked by the same tattoo—the mounting hysteria threatens to erupt into chaos.

Before the unrest forces him to torture and execute the very woman who aided in the birth of his children, Jakob must unravel the truth. With the help of his clever daughter, Magdelena, and Simon, the university-educated son of the town’s physician, Jakob discovers that a devil is indeed loose in Schongau. But it may be too late to prevent bloodshed.

A brilliantly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller, The Hangman’s Daughter is the first novel from German television screenwriter Oliver Pötzsch, a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.

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  1. I also bought The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by accident. Sigh. No accidental purchases lately, maybe I'm learning . . .

  2. I wanted to thank Helen for submitting her Recently Read post to my blog.

    I have accidentally purchased a book before. I did return it though because it was a book I already had in paperback.

    I have The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in paperback, purchased on purpose. :-) I haven't read it yet but I did watch the movies and really enjoyed them.


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