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 child..Show More »ren 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 liked "The Dark Monk" better than its predecessor, "The Hangman's Daughter." It tells a better story, and it has fewer horrific descriptions of M..Show More »idieval torture. (Yes, I know that this story technically takes place during the Reformation, but the people and villages depicted here still seem locked deep in the Middle Ages.) I also liked it better because of Pötzsch's increased inclusion of herbology in this story. Here, Pötzsch speculates about the original discovery of Penicillin, attributing it to one of his characters. Such speculation makes some sense: Practicing herbalists may, indeed, have quietly discovered the antibiotic properties of certain molds prior to Alexander Flemming's official discovery of Penicillium rubens in 1928. With "The Hangman's Daughter," Pötzsch built a tale around one of his real 17th-century forebears: a veritable village executioner. Whodathunk that anyone could make a hero out of someone who tortures and murders for a living? I, personally, find this character difficult to believe -- an executioner with a gentle heart and the gift of healing? However, if you can swallow that premise, then you might like "The Dark Monk," in which the executioner, his daughter, and her lover solve another mystery. And what a mystery they solve: the location and nature of the lost Templar treasure! The narrator, Grover Gardner, also does a better job with this audiobook than he did with "The Hangman's Daughter," using a wider variety of voices to distinguish the characters. He doesn't have very good accents in his repertory, but he makes attempts, as necessary. I hesitate to say this -- because "The Hangman's Daughter" contains a lot of harrowing scenes of cruelty -- but you will probably enjoy "The Dark Monk" better if you have listened to "The Hangman's Daughter" first. You stand forewarned.