Review: The Hangman's Daughter, Oliver Pötzsch

The Hangman's Daughter Oliver Pötzsch cover
Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father, mother and the twins outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son—except that the town physician’s son is hopelessly in love with her. And her father’s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t 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 devil—a man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctor’s son face a terrifying and very real enemy.

Oliver Pötzsch, born in 1970, has worked for years as a scriptwriter for Bavarian Public Television. He is himself a descendant of the Kuisls one of the Bavaria's leading dynasties of executioners. Oliver Pötzsch and his family live in Munich.

This book was a read for this month in one of my on line book clubs. Though I was not really sure if I would read it at the beginning of the month I did add it to my list as possible reads. I was hesitating because though I love a good detective and I love historical novels the combination had been a light disappointment in the past.
I am glad I got over it though and picked up this books cause I loved it. The author pulls you in easily with some background information on the hangman giving him such a lovely personality immediately that it does not matter what happens you want him to win. Same with all the other characters in the book. The author places them and gives them a personality in 3 lines which turns them into people you either hate or like. The only characters I had a bit of a problem with where the "man", described vaguely to keep their identity hidden till the end of the book which did add to the feeling you where puzzling along.
Ambroise Paré The story was really well done. It managed to pull you in the 1650 in Germany with castles and little villages. It might have helped that I know the area and some of the history there still exists so it was not that hard to imagine. I loved the way the author handled the superstitions that ruled the peoples minds in that period. The way the doctor worked with bleeding people as his most serious treatment. That discovering how the human body works still was judged as wrong and dissecting dead peoples bodies was forbidden.
I did not get the feeling there where many flaws in the story. Details like the medical ones and the ones how the laws, housing and other significant details for the era where repeated in different situations troughout the book giving you the idea that the investigation on this story was done properly. I did not check if it was all correct but if it was wrong it was at least consistent.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book where:
“Life went on, despite all the dying.” ~34
“And all because of a mistaken concept of compassion!”  ~144

Teaser for The Hangman's Daughter
Simon turned the boy on his belly. With a vigorous tug he ripped open the shirt on the back as well. A groan went trough the crowd.
The Hangman's Daughter
Author: Oliver Pötzsch
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 9780547536835
Pages: 448
Format: eBook

Original Title: Die Henkerstochter
Series: Yes, The Hangman's Daughter #1

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