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 think 3 stars is the perfect number for this one. It was an interesting tale, with a couple of likeable characters, as in Zeeman, the doctor and Quizel the Hangman. They had a special rapport between them that gives you a chuckle now and then. The Hangman is portrayed as a just man and not a cruel man. All and all the story isn't horrifying, as one might think it will be. It's a murder (several murders) mystery that Quizel and Zeeman set out to solve in order for an innocent woman's life to be spared, and to save the lives of several children. It shows the narrow mindedness of people, as mass hysteria takes over. Then and now, some things never change.
I tried to listen to this book but the narration was so awful I had to stop. I will read the book, but am returning the audiobook portion.
I am rarely seen without my headphones on and my iPod clipped on my waist. I love my books.
I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery set in the 1600's in Germany. The author transports you back to a time before all of our modern conveniences and modern ways of thinking. How different things were back then. This is a fascinating series, and I will get them all. Well worth the credit and time.
I went into this not knowing what to expect. First it was a translation, then it was historical fiction which differs a lot from my usual contemporary reads.
It was an excellent "whodunit". I just wanted to scream at the ignorance and superstition of the German villagers, but after all, it was roughly the same time as the Salem witch trials, so it wasn't unique to German peasants.
Just enough peril to the good guys, and I had no idea until the end who the mastermind was.
Inflection and pronunciations.
The story has many facets but is far too predictable. This is likely because the author has a very personal connection to this family, time period and location which are ultimately more compelling to him than the plot. The language has very little poetry to it and does not feel like natural speech. This is likely due to a poor translation and not solely the fault of the author. Odd too is the title of this book. The hangman does in fact have a daughter, but she is at best the sixth most important character, and that is probably being generous. If she was removed entirely from the story I don't believe any plot points or pacing would have changed. The young physician would still have been drawn to the hangman in his pursuit of knowledge; the hangman still would have pursued the villain and their agents based on his ethics and history. The only notable difference is that the agent of villain would have had backup at the final confrontation. Even revelations made by the hangman's daughter are independently made by others in their party. The Hangman's Honor would have made for a better title.
The novel was not what I expected, but once I started, I was eager to listen each day. That the story was inspired by the author's own family makes this even more interesting. The narrator is also very effective, making the whole experience well worth the time.
I really enjoyed the beginning of this book and the potential that it had. However, as the book got further and further along I became less and less interested, and I honestly almost didn't care who did it at the end. I did not think it was a bad book, and I absolutely loved the beginning. But the last act left a lot to be desired.
The story is compelling, mysterious & even a bit terrifying. However, I cannot help but feel lost in translation. The character building concerning "the hangman" was great, but not so great concerning the other characters.
This is a book that deserves an "A" for effort and a "C" for execution. It is clear that the author has spent a considerable amount of time researching the times, and has spent considerable creative energy imagining the lives of ordinary people who lived in the era. But somehow that has not translated into a compelling narrative. The writing and situations seem somewhat off, and I found it impossible to really get into it. There are books of the genre that I love, like "The Name of the Rose" and others. Anyone who has read these books know that it requires considerable authorial skill to build up the environment in such a way that the reader becomes eased into the story, and the situations of the time start feeling natural. The problem in this case is that the characters behave like they are on stage and being watched by a 21sth century audience. I'm know I'm not being very precise but that is the way it struck me.
The situation is not helped by the narrator, who sounds like he is narrating a boring basketball game with a lowbrow American accent. Not that I've anything against American accents, it just does not suit the story. He also uses the same pseudo-excited tone for both the story and the characters' voices, which further detracts from the credibility of the overall work. They should have found a trained voice actor who may have done justice to the accents we'd expect from that period.
Yes, most definitely, in fact, I plan to read the entire series! I love a good series with great characters and this one is fantastic.
When the Hangman woke the midwife and told her that she was cleared and could go home. Also when he ran to his daughter on the road after she broke free from her captors. The love of the physician's son even though the Hangman's daughter was shunned by the villagers added romantic moments without turning the story into a soap opera.
The Hangman is an unexpected hero. Even though he is an executioner, he is portrayed as a very sensitive individual with a sense of justice. The physician's son is a wonderful character as well. The author's note at the end of the story adds a fascinating historical note. This novel was inspired by his ancestors who were executioners. There are stories about knights, kings and peasants but never about the executioner! I highly recommend this book!
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