Germany, 1659: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play in his small Bavarian town. Whispers and dark memories of witch trials and the women burned at the stake just 70 years earlier still haunt the streets of Schongau. When more children disappear and an orphan boy is found dead - marked by the same tattoo - the mounting hysteria threatens to erupt into chaos.
Before the unrest forces him to torture and execute the very woman who aided in the birth of his children, Jakob must unravel the truth. With the help of his clever daughter, Magdelena, and Simon, the university-educated son of the town’s physician, Jakob discovers that a devil is indeed loose in Schongau. But it may be too late to prevent bloodshed.
©2011 Oliver Pötzsch, Lee Chadeayne (translation) (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I was looking for a book and got an e-mail from Audible suggesting that if I enjoyed Robert McCammon's Mister Slaughter series (the Providence Rider et al), I would certainly enjoy this. I can only surmise after laboriously listening to the first half of this, that whoever came up with that has not listened to either one or both of these authors. I enjoyed every minute of Robert McCammon's novels. The mysteries were riveting and the author kept you completely immersed in the period. Everything was accurate - the language, the history, the descriptions of the locals, clothing, etc. And the narration was also superb. The accents, pronunciation, different voices were all in keeping with the narrative and the time period. So . . . that's what I was expecting. It is certainly not what I got.
It started with the narration, which sounds more like someone doing a documentary than recording a historical piece and things went rapidly downhill from there. I don't know if it is perhaps the result of careless translation or if the translator was trying to make things sound up to date but there are many, many instances of words or phrases that are out of place in Anno Domini 1660. In once instance there is a fire and people hear the sound of
"all the breaking glass in the windows". This is Europe in the 1660's! Glass in windows was reserved for the very, very rich. At another point, after referring to a group of children who were running away from him as 'the little bastards' a character them refers to them as those 'kids'. Again, not a commonly used phrase for the time. I find this sort of thing so off putting that it's pretty hard to even concentrate on the plot.
I will most probably struggle through to the end just because it's hard for me not to finish what I start. But it is also probably the first book that I will use to take advantage of the new 'return' policy that Amazon has started.
I'm not sure yet.
Yikes! A lot! I don't think I've actually ever listened to one of his recordings in the past and I'll listen to the sample very carefully before I do so again. The characters sound so much the same. I feel like someone is reading me a book he doesn't really care for. And notice I said reading, not performing.
most of them
I was between books and was looking for something that would be mildly entertaining. I noticed that these series of books had really gotten good reviews, so I thought, what the heck, I'll give it a try.
This story held my interest throughout the book and whenever I had to stop, I somewhat impatiently waited to have time to pick it up again. The story weaves in and out without losing the reader and the characters are fully developed. The story comes to a satisfactory end, not one that leaves you hanging.
As soon as I finished, I bought the next in the series. If you purchase this book/audiobook, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
PS: Grover Gardner is an excellent narrator, as usual.
Most definitely kept me on the edge. Peril lies at every turn.
They are all performed superbly. Simon was my favorite character, but that is mainly due to the author's development of the character.
I discovered this Author by chance and bought the title as a special. Within a few chapters I was hooked and found it hard to put down. (I will add that Grover Gardner is a favourite of mine also.)
The language , plot and characters are wonderfully woven and describe a period in European life that is long forgotten.
I think the emphasis on ordinary people , their lives , their joys and fears endears me to the Author and his story.
I have already purchased and read the second title - The Dark Monk.
The story constantly kept me engaged. At several points, I thought I knew what would happen but I was completely wrong. I found this to be a very enjoyable listen. The narrator helped give the story life. He was excellent.I enjoyed hearing the names pronounced. I am not proficient in Polish pronunciation so it was extremely helpful! If you have listened to many books, you know the narrator can make or break the experience.
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
i seem to be in the minority here, but I thought this book was so stupid I couldn't stand to finish it, despite the fact that Grover Gardner is one of my all-time fave readers (& he did his usual outstanding job).
Perhaps some of the problem is from translation; I cannot 'stay in' a book set in the 1600s where a character uses "Whatever" in the sense that modern-day teens use it --as in, indicating indifference to anther's statement, for example. There were a few other examples of modern idiom, and a lot of just really hideous dialogue.
Another problem, not translational: the enormous contrast between the anachronistically enlightened/aware hangman & the other superstitious/ignorant villagers was just ridiculous; the hangman not only recognizes that need for cleaning wounds several centuries before anyone else, he realizes all this witch (& much other) stuff is mere ignorant superstition, & to round it out he beats Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock by centuries in his sleuthing. He's way too over the top brilliant & aware.
btw, for those who have trouble reconciling how the kindly healer can also be hangman & torturer, we see in the very first paragraph that the protagonist is himself 'tortured' by what he has to do; we see him getting drunk & generally having a nervous breakdown when it comes time for him to do his thing, especially when he thinks the torturee/executionee is undeserving...he also slips the innocent really groovy drugs before going to work on 'em, so they hardly feel a thing. (that's another thing; I could only wish my current medications were 1/10th as effective as some of his herbal remedies...they just ain't that good).
In contrast to the uber-genius hangman, other characters do such incredibly moronic things that I found myself hoping they'd get killed off before they got a chance to breed (or annoy me further). Things like (this is not a spoiler, it's not something that actually happens, but exactly parallel things do). Stuff like:
--characters X & Y are being chased by others, down a box canyon at night. X & Y are sneaking along, then stop in bushes to listen for sounds of pursuit. Suddenly X stands up & yells "HELLOOO!" Y grabs X & hisses "What are you doing?!" X answers, "I wanted to see if the echo works at night."
--X & Y are being pursued another time (still night). X comes up behind Y, puts hand over Y's mouth so Y doesn't scream, whispers in Y's ear "Shh, it's me, don't scream." Y nods. X lets go. Y shouts "Don't put your hand over my mouth, I hate that!!
Like that. Too dumb to live. I got so annoyed by things that that, & by how over-the-top stupid many characters were all around that I managed to stick with the book about 3/4 of the way through, at which time I decided I'd only bother finishing if I thought every character was going to die a horrible death. But since there are further books in the series, clearly some live on. Needless to say, the hangman, his daughter, & the rest of the gang are going to have to do it without me.
I guess I would, while at times the story was good I would have to know if they liked history based books before telling them to read/listen to it.
I enjoyed the detective aspect of the novel it was exciting to see the characters to try and solve things with out the tools of modern technology. The romance, it was kind of boring and I found pointless.
The performance of this book was pretty good, but his voice was very relaxing and I found I had to listen to the book at an accelerated speed to prevent myself from falling asleep.
I'm not sure if this book was worth listening to because I'm still undecided if I liked the book or not.
I have not read the print version but did like the audio version.
At the very end, the author spoke of researching his family ancestry and finding much of the material, the people, he used in this book. The story was fiction but he used enough of the reality of the time to write an interesting and intriguing mystery.
The Hangman and his daughter.
It's the mid-1500's; will the town's hangman solve the mystery before he is require to do his job?
Yes I liked the paradigm shift to criminal justice in the Renaissance when one civil functionary performed many criminal justice roles
The hangman he had a cool analytical mind
The biggest problem with this book is that the narrator is flat and monotonous. If this were a history lecture all the students would be asleep, but since the story is interesting, you should be able to stay conscious. I did have to do an eye-roll when one of the good guys was finally confronting the bad guy and they both felt the need to spill their guts, explaining every single action they had each taken to get them to that point (even those things the reader already knew) - I thought it was overkill and a bit on the sappy side. I almost expected the bad guy to say something like "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids". Other than that, it was a nice read and the historical context credible. I will definitely check out this author's other books.
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