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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Review: The Hangman's Daughter

The title and the writer’s history made me want to read this book. Oliver Potzch, the author, is descended from a long line of Bavarian executioners. The historical details make it worth the read. I learned quite a bit about the hangman’s duties which included not only torture, but ironically, many of the hangmen were also healers who used herbs for medicinal treatment. The tale is a mystery set in a small Bavarian town in the 1600’s. When an orphan child is found murdered, a literal witch hunt begins. It’s not long before a supposed “witch” is found to blame the murder on. There are also villains afoot and the hangman, Jakob Kuisl and the son of a doctor team up to find the real killer. 

I found the book interesting and it was the historical details that intrigued me the most. I had to suspend my disbelief regarding the main villain when I learned some of the details about him because they were so far-fetched. I also felt Potzch got a little too hung up in dragging out the torture scenes and there were time certain phrases used seemed inappropriate for the 1600’s setting.

There is also a romance between the hangman’s daughter and Simon, the doctor’s son, but it is on the peripheral and not the main thing. Though I would like to  give it five stars for originality, I have to counter balance that with other factors. I felt it sagged somewhat in the middle and the pace slowed considerably.  For me, it lands more in the three star category. Still, a fun read if you want to learn a bit of history and mystery.

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