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.
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.
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.
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!
I love the medieval era books. This first book was jst a shot in the dark as i dont have a new author yet to follow. This one was suggested on the home screen as a must read so i gave it a chance and have since listened to the whole series. You wont b disappointed! if you are a fan of Ken Follett i really think you will like this. If you do like this and have not had the chance to read ken follett i advise you to do so.
It definitely puts a different spin on an executioners life. I enjoyed the book. I had to read it because of all the hype.
I would also recommend Speaks the Nightbird for historical fiction.
I am a serious Bibliophile and audio-bibliophile! I have lofty reading and listening goals!
The story was descriptive without being overly wrought with details. The pace of the story and narrative was top-notch. The Narrator....brilliant!
Yes....lot's a twists and turns.
Words can't explain how good his performance was!
I found Grover Gardner to be hard to listen to at first, but as the multiple characters entered the story he did an impressive job altering tone and inflection along with volume and pace to differentiate them easily.
The story would have been even more enjoyable had I heard the post-script first; that this fiction piece is actually rooted in true to life events with many real characters. The author of course takes creative license but now knowing many of the people and places, and the main story line are actual events makes it that much more enjoyable for me.
It's a little slow in the middle but there's good character development and it's a good story. Overall definitely worth the listen.
the Post Script for this book was very interesting. It explains the inspiration was based on the author's family lineage: a family history of "public executioners".
The author found several manuscripts that confirmed his family's "business" was that of hangman, passed down from generation to generation. The author has chosen the "last hangman" to hang this story upon.
The story is a murder mystery. The hangman, named Jakob Kuisl, doesn't want to see an innocent person wrongly blamed for the crime, so he sets out to discover the truth.
The backdrop is an earthy backdrop of Medieval Germany, and brings sights, sounds, and smells of the past to life. The superstitions of the common folk are also keenly felt, and accusations of witchcraft and devilry complicate the hangman's task.
A great mystery from the past. I thought the book was an accurate account of the torture practices of a hangman. I loved the story and the narration. The only downside was the names of the characters. Some were so similar, that it was hard to keep up with.
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