First, if you don't want to hear graphic descriptions of torture and life in the mid-1600s then you might want to avoid this book. The local midwife has been accused of witchcraft and tossed in prison. Back in those days people were tortured until they got a confession so there are several descriptive torture scenes. The townspeople believe in witchcraft and devils (this story takes place 70 years after the witch trials where about 60 women were accused of witchcraft and killed) and see signs of it in the most innocent of things and hysteria starts to rise and demands are made for the midwife/witch to be killed. Mob mentality arises and has to be subdued.
As I said earlier, the book gets very graphic in descriptions of the hangman's trade and also other atrocities committed by the mercenaries of the time and also the treatment of women and children.
The title is a little misleading in that even though the hangman does have a daughter and she plays a small role, the majority of the book is centered around the hangman and the university-educated son of the local doctor trying to figure out who is responsible for the murders and destruction of property since they believe in the midwife's innocence.
This book reminded me a little of Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon which centered around a witch trial in 1699. If you enjoyed that book you would probably enjoy this one as well.
The idea that the town's executioner should be more worried about justice than the burghers is a great premise. The story moves along, but the repetition in the prose is off-putting. Character development is slow and that's not always bad - but in this case, some of the major characters are still incomplete at the end of the book. Hints are given, but clarity would be nice. I found it strange that the reformation was totally ignored.
better writing/story/characters. Characters are sterotypes -- good wise women accused of being witches, evil fat money bags, a limping badguy who is the devil incarnate because he is named so, and the best a hero hangman "sorry i have to torture you because otherwise i can't be around to prove you innocent" -- and too many modern sensibilities for what should be a recreation of the 1600's. The tie the innocent girl to the train tracks plot set in a poorly depicted medieval town.
not his fault
This was a great book, very engaging, but the narrator was just awful! Lacking any inflection, he rattled on in a monotone, even when describing some really harrowing bits of the story. Still well worth a listen, I wish I'd read the book, since I think I would have given this a 5-star rating. The narrator almost killed it for me.
I love all genres of books. However, when I listen to audio books as I clean, garden, drive they are better with a lot of heat!
The story takes place in the middle ages in a German State and is hard to put down. The Hangman is the town executioner, torturer, herbalist, and a family man. He and his family are necessary to the town and at the same time are outcasts of the society. His daughter is a haughty sexy girl who defies the norms as does the Hangman and a local young physician. All are ahead of their time in a world mired in superstition, and religious fervor. A murderer is at work killing children, a mystical mark is found on the bodies, a witch is blamed and the authorities are too eager to find an easy solution to the problem.
The Hangman and the physician use science and common sense to unravel the mystery. The villains and the heroes use violence and torture to achieve their ends. Well written, historically accurate, this is a good read.
Grover Gardner did a good job delivering the story
The premise for this book is intriguing, but in reality it falls far short of even being remotely good. If it wasn't for some farely graphic descriptions of violence I would have thought that it was aimed at the young adult or even children's market.
Some of the istorical background is interesting but the story itself is barely credible. Again and again our heroes are saved by coincidences and occurrances which stretch the definition of Deus ex machina to its absolute limit.
Lastly, the dialogue is wooden and many passages often repeat themselves.
It is possible that some of these faults are due to a poor translation from the original german, but it doesn't excuse the tissue thin plot and eventual resolution.
There are many other historical who done its out there which are more worthy of your credits.
Why is it that every book now seems to be about somebody who happens to have a daughter? Anyway, this is one of those typical Mideval mysteries in the spirit of Cadfael only instead of a monk, the detective is a hangman. This hangman has his compassionate side. He also seems to be intellectually overqualified for his job title, but this is a family business. There are the typical church ideologues, self-serving municipal functionaries and herbal remedies and poisons though the apothecary plot elements are handled by a young doctor instead of being a hobby of the protagonist. Historical series (Aubrey/Maturin or Poldark for example) always have to include a doctor. Well somebody has to sew up the wounded or discover the tincture of murder. It's not a bad story, it's just that I've read its kind so often before and the characters feel inserted into a formulaic plot like Lego pieces.
The narration of this book was in my opinion not well done. The tempo of the reader seemed off which made it very difficult to listen to. The storyline dragged on for what seems like an eternity.
I have both and enjoy them equally. I tend to follow one author on audio or print but seldom in both media. The author creates very vibrant scenes and complex characters that come alive in both media.
I've read all of Potzsch's books first. Gardner's interpretation of the characters meshed closely with what my imagination had constructed when I read the books. I would like to hear the son-in-law's (Simon) whininess a little more but Gardner's reading is enjoyable and easy to listen to.
I believe I listened to this one while driving across part of Texas!
The Hangman series of books can be read independently from one another but are more enjoyable when read in order. His character development is superb and continues throughout the series.