Saturday, June 29, 2013
Book Review: The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch
Author: Oliver Potzsch
Enjoyment Rating: ***
This book would be rated: PG-13 for violence
In a small German town in 1660, the Hangman is a necessity and a pariah. People won't make eye contact with him, and resent his presence in the church. His children are ostracized and no one except another hangman is allowed to marry his daughter. But this particular hangman, Jakob Kuisl, is more than just a torturer and a coldblooded killer, he is also a healer who knows more about medicine than either the old town doctor or his young son, the college-educated physician.
When children are murdered and the newly-constructed leper colony burns down, and a midwife is charged with witchcraft, the town clerk quietly asks Kuisl to help him find the real perpetrator before the woman is burned. By day, Kuisl gently tortures his friend. By night, he and the young doctor (his daughter's lover) work to solve the mystery.
While the historical elements of the book were very rewarding, at times the plot felt like the Keystone Cops-- lots of men running around in uniforms in the night and bashing into each other. Other times, the story felt completely ghoulish. This is the first in a series of at least four books, and while I enjoyed this one, I'm not running out to pick up the next one.