The Poisoned Pilgrim: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale

Oliver Potzsch, Author, Lee Chadeayne, Translator
Oliver Pötzsch, trans. from the German by Lee Chadeayne. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner, $18 trade paper (512p) ISBN 978-0-544-11460-9
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Set in Bavaria in 1666, Pötzsch’s stellar fourth Hangman’s Daughter mystery (after The Beggar King) features three unlikely sleuths: hangman Jakob Kuisl; his daughter, Magdalena; and Magdalena’s husband, Simon Fronweiser, a “bathhouse medicus” in the town of Schongau. Magdalena and Simon, the parents of two boys, leave the children with Magdalena’s parents in order to undertake a pilgrimage to the monastery at Andechs—a trip that turns out to be anything but spiritual. When Coelestin—a novitiate who stumbled onto a horrific heresy—drowns, his death is deemed accidental, until Simon notices marks of violence on the corpse. More deaths follow, and the arrest of Brother Johannes, an old friend of Kuisl, prompts the executioner to leave his ailing wife to come to Johannes’s aid. The author maintains tension throughout as the trio seeks to unravel the intricate scheme behind the killings, which are connected to a lifelike human automaton. (July)
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