cover image The Council of Twelve: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale

The Council of Twelve: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale

Oliver Pötzsch, trans. from the German by Lee Chadeayne. Mariner, $18 trade paper (512p) ISBN 978-1-328-50831-7

Set in 1672, Pötzsch’s enthralling seventh Hangman’s Daughter whodunit (after 2017’s The Play of Death) takes Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, daughter Magdalena, and other family members to Munich, where Jakob and 11 fellow professionals are meeting to discuss such business as standardizing fees and changes threatening their livelihood, including a push by physicians in the German empire to bar hangmen from acting as healers. Meanwhile, Jakob is looking to marry off his unmarried daughter, Barbara, and Magdalena’s husband, Simon Fronwiesser, hopes that his medical treatise will find a publisher, but these efforts are sidelined by the discovery of the bodies of three young women. One victim was impaled, one drowned, and one sealed behind a wall—all methods commonly used by executioners. The superstitious locals blame the hangmen, and Jakob, Magdalena, and Simon must act fast to identify the killer. Pötzsch does his usual excellent job of making the period vivid, while offering surprising twists en route to an eminently fair solution. This is a superior historical mystery. Agent: Gerd Rumler, Gerd F. Rumler Agency (Germany). (May)