I recently read the Kindle edition of “The Hangman’s Daughter” by Oliver Potzsch. I didn’t know anything about it when I started other than the summary sounded interesting. The story is set in 1600’s Germany. It about a hangman, well really, an executioner since he does more than hang people. Jakob Kuisl does his job well, but when he is called upon to torture a midwife into confessing to murder and witchcraft, he balks. The midwife, Martha Strechlin, is his friend, and he doesn’t believe her guilty.
So Jakob does everything he can to slow down the foregone conclusion that Martha is witch and will be executed. He sets out on his own to investigate the murder, but not before other children in the town are murdered and found with a witch’s mark on them just as the first murder victim had had. Along the way, the son of the town doctor and Jakob’s own daughter become involved in helping him search out the real killer before Jakob will be forced to execute Martha.
I found the details of 17th Century life in Germany and the life of a hangman fascinating. Potzsch does a great job of weaving them into the mystery. I wonder if a hangman could have been so pleasant and heroic as Jakob, though, since a hangman was a pariah in his town.
The book was the first of three so far in the series. I have the second one, which I am looking forward to reading when I get a chance. However, if you get a chance, check out “The Hangman’s Daughter.”