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 Hangman's Daughter hooked me and I listened, engaged, to the end. It has everything I like in historical mystery - compelling characters, fascinating time period, fast-paced plot. The thing to know, though, is it also has torture. The author has not shied away from graphic depictions of the Hangman's trade and atrocities committed by mercenaries and soldiers of the time. For example, an infant is ripped from its mother and swung by its foot... I'll leave the rest out, suffice to say, it doesn't end well for the baby. But the book doesn't celebrate or in anyway glorify violence. It's just part of the world of 1658. So, it's up to each reader to decide. For myself, I'll be downloading the next book in the series.
This was a fascinating book. Jacob Kuisl is the hangman of the town of Schongau, some years after the infamous Schongau witch trials. When two children are murdered under mysterious circumstances, the town midwife is accused of witchcraft. While Kuisl believes that the midwife is innocent, he must do his duty or lose his position. The book moves slowly in spots, but builds to an exciting finish. The details of town life, medicine, the aftermath of war, etc. give the book life and dimension. I highly recommend it.
I was really surprised when I looked at the reviews for this book. I thought that this book was average AT BEST. For a mystery it completely lacks any drive or urgency. Perhaps this is because I didn't care about any of the characters - some were flimsily drawn, some were robotic, and some were just down right comical. The plot was slow and plodded along (and along and along). There were chapters that, in my opinion, needed editing - nothing happened in them worth mentioning! While I am no medieval expert some of the things that were said or done just seemed unbelievable to me. Finally, the narrator didn't do much to help the robotic characters. I think he sounded at times like a computerized voice.
I really thought I would have liked this book. I sometimes like typical genre plots told in new settings to make them fresh, but I just couldn't connect with this book.
This book is one of the best ones I have listened to, and I have listened to hundreds over the years. (I have a 3-hour+ commute each day via Interstate.)
This is my first encounter with Grover Gardner, but I think his rendition is excellent and fits the tone of the book handily.
I really enjoyed the first in this series. Hangman's Daughter is interesting from a cultural/historical point of view but also a compelling story - a murder mystery, basically. This historical fiction is "down to earth" compared to many books of its sort and I could easily relate to many of the characters while still appreciating the historical and cultural differences between us. Reading the second in the series now and enjoying as well.
Never listened to GG before but he is perfect in this audiobook. His pronunciation of the German names and locations made listening to this book far more enjoyable than reading it. Perfect!
The hangman's support of a condemned, lowly woman is significant!
I started trying to listen to "The Hangman's Daughter" a while back, then had to stop for a while, to prepare myself emotionally for a subsequent attempt. Yikes! This audiobook opens with a scene so horrific and gut-wrenching that I couldn't bear it. Having now finally finished listening to the entire audiobook, I feel a bit shattered. If you have a gentle heart like mine, I warn you away from this novel. Perhaps its scenes of cruelty, torture, and bloodthirstiness establish a reality true to seventeenth-century Germany. Perhaps modern people everywhere would behave that way under similar conditions and circumstances. I hate to think so, and I have insurmountable difficulty understanding such human behavior. In any case, I don't look for those kinds of scenes in my entertainment, and I doubt that I will muster the courage to listen to "The Hangman's Daughter" again any time soon. If you have enough emotional toughness to disregard my warning, then you may find some merit in this novel. It does offer a pretty good mystery and pretty good writing -- although I have some suspicions about the translation. Pötzsch does provide good character development; only I'm having a little trouble believing the main character (who, by the way, is not the hangman's daughter, but the hangman, himself). Can a person who performs torture, dismemberment, and murder for a living really have a warm, loving, compassionate heart, with the gift of healing? As an herbalist, I do appreciate Pötzsch's apparent knowledge of herbs and their healing properties. Grover Gardner, the narrator of "The Hangman's Daughter," has an odd, throaty, but not unpleasant voice. He does an adequate, if undistinguished performance of this novel, lacking drama. In summation, I would recommend against this audiobook, unless you take an interest in medieval superstitions and torture techniques.
This was a mesmerizing audio. I could not stop listening. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It was also a great recreation of Medieval times in Germany. The suspense is maintained throughout the entire narrative and the pace is hectic. The final climatic fight is well done and terrifying in the extreme. I can't recommend this book highly enough. If you want a good satisfying Medieval mystery this is it.
The period detail is spot on and despite the immense amount of detail about Medieval life and customs, it never intereferes with the story but actually adds to the atmosphere.
If you want a great historical mystery this is it. I understand a sequel is coming and I hope Audible get it.
I'm an avid listener. Audio books are a mini-vacation for me. They fill my "need to read" when I don't have time - which is most of the time. Great element of multi-tasking!
A pretty good "who done it" for any generation, but made far more interesting through the lens of 17th century witch fears and a picture of the real role of the hangmen of the period. Who knew they had families and lived regular lives? Although not gratuitous or overly gruesome, the violence is a bit shocking, but apparently accurate for the era. Recommended for lovers of historic fiction and mysteries.
In general I love historical fiction and this book seemed like it would have lots going for it. But it failed in every aspect of it. The characters were flat, boring and cliche. The plot moved extremely slowly and 'clues' were gone over again and again and again and then again a few chapters later, in case you forgot. The whole book could have been half the length without losing anything. The translation was stilted, especially with idioms and phrases. For those who might be faint of heart, the descriptions of torture and killing is not extremely graphic but presented in a very matter-of-fact way. Probably not for everyone.
My biggest problem with the book was continuity errors and plot holes. The editor of this book needs to be fired. Sometimes it's little things, like the main characters get covered in clay dust which they can't get off, and an hour later when one goes to town to get help, no one asks why they're all covered in dirt. When you find out who did it, I invite you to go back and read the initial descriptions of this character's physical characteristics and then read the big confrontation scene again. See the problem? Appalling.
In the middle of the book, I thought I'd be giving this book maybe 3 stars and say that it was kind of ok for listening to in the car, but the completely frustrating plot hole at the end was the final turn of the thumb-screw for me. I confess: I hated this book. Would not recommend, will not buy the sequel.
I really wanted to like this book a lot. As in '5 stars' a lot. In theory it has a lot of things that would interest me. German? Check. Accurate medieval history? check. Murder mystery? check. Somehow, though, it just didn't come together. The clues weren't very well spaced out so there were multiple chapters in which nothing happened, nothing new was developed (not even the characters) and then the next clue would be dropped only to spend the next 4 chapters or so reiterating the new clue. The literary devices were a bit tired: the modern audience is meant to understand that the physician's son is one of the good guys because he drinks coffee and believes in the circulatory system. The translation from German was pretty good, but there were times when I found I could reconstruct the German phrase from the clumsy English translation because the word order was spot on for German and awkward in English. As for the whodunnit: in the end it didn't matter. The great reveal about who was behind everything felt anti-climactic and had no effect on the wrap-up of the plot. The orchestrator could have been John Doe or any character in the book and the ending would have been the same. Somehow, that seems wrong.
All in all, I was disappointed in the book and learned my lesson about believing Amazon when they say that 'everyone is reading this book because it's the best book ever'. Turns out, it was published by Amazon's in house publishing company. Lesson learned.
"The Hangman's Daughter"
Excellent - don't pass this one up! I wish I could find more historical novels like this. Having grown weary of novels set in Tudor times, I found this little gem while browsing historical crime/thrillers. Set in seventeenth century Bavaria it involves a reluctant executioner, a midwife accused of witchcraft, a young physician and, of course, the hangman's daughter. The plot involves a village with with a less than scrupulous town council and the lengths some would go to in order to cover their greed. The characters were well drawn and the author made me feel I was right there living the story.
If you like historical novels you will love this book. I do not know if the author has written any other books, but I will definitely be searching. Don't forget to listen to the author's notes at the end. Very revealing!
I wasn't sure I was going to like this at first. Not even sure why I downloaded this. As it turned out once started I found it difficult to stop listening. Perhaps the fact that the story is based upon a real family history made it so believable. Certainly Grover Gardner delivers the performance that I have come to expect - just the right voice for this story.
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