Monday, April 29, 2013

Book review: The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

Buy The Hangman's Daughter at Amazon

The Hangman's Daughter is a murder mystery set in Schongau, Bavaria in 1659. Following the death of a young boy, the village doctor finds a crude tattoo of a mysterious symbol on his back. Believing witchcraft to be at work, the local midwife is quickly arrested, and the hangman, Jakob Kuisl, is expected to interrogate her.

Soon more children die, and the village begins to clamor for "justice." As if Jakob Kuisl didn't have enough on his hands, his pretty, headstrong daughter has set her sights on the village doctor - a questionable profession at best. Hangmen and their families are cursed, by local belief, and can only marry into another hangman's family.

Not believing in witchcraft, and having known the midwife for years, Kuisl believes she is innocent, yet his job is to torture a confession out of her. There are few who agree with him, but they are intelligent people. Soon they're all in a race against time to find the real criminal before the torture begins.

Potzsch is descended from the real Kuisl line, which was an executioner clan in Bavaria. He grew up with sanitized stories of his ancestors, and researched further into them when he grew up. The book was originally written in German, so the language can be a little off, or unnatural to the American ear. But put that aside, or take it as arcane speech from the 1600s, and it's a decent story.


  1. This has been in my wish list for awhile. I actually didn't know what it was about but I liked the title and the cover.