cover image The Hangman's Daughter

The Hangman's Daughter

Oliver P%C3%B6tzsch, trans. from the German by Lee Chadeayne. Amazon Crossing, $15.95 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-1-935597-05-6

The first novel from German screenwriter P%C3%B6tzsch is a brilliantly-researched and exciting story of a formative era of history when witches were hunted and the inquisitors had little belief in their methods beyond their effect in pacifying superstitious townspeople. Jakob Kuisl, hangman of Schongau, must quickly find the person responsible for the occult murder of the local children and the kidnapping of his eldest daughter, Magdalena. Though the townspeople are convinced the local midwife is the murderer, and a witch, Jakob knows she is innocent and only has days to prove it. Teaming up with the physician's son, Simon, Jakob sets out to save the innocents and bring justice to the murderer, each step bringing him closer to evil and increasing the risk to his daughter and himself. P%C3%B6tzsch, actually descended from a line of hangmen, delivers a fantastically fast-paced read, rife with details on the social and power structures in the town as well as dichotomy between university medicine and the traditional remedies, which are skillfully communicated through character interactions, particularly that of Magdalena and Simon. The shocking motivations from unlikely players provide for a twist that will leave readers admiring this complex tale from a talented new voice. (Dec. 2010)