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The Hangman's Daughter


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I read this review in my Sunday paper although I'm not acquainted with this author, perhaps you all are. May just be a good read.


The Hangman's Daughter, by Oliver Potzsch.


This international best-seller from a German author is an exciting mystery, a medical thriller and a little bit of a love story, grounded in 17-century beliefs and superstitions.


Set in Bavaria in 1659 the story centers on Magdalena, headstrong daughter of hangman Jakob Kuisl, whose honorable job is the execute people and sometimes torture them. The oppening pages are a riveting, if ghastly, scene of a botched beheading. After that, you won't put this book down. When the dead bodies of children with strange markings on them are found, the much loved village midwife is accused of witchcraft, and older residents fear of revival of the witch burnings of the past. The village's headman knows the midwife is innocent, but he needs peace and he orders Kuisl to torture the woman until she confesses.


Kuisl knows the midwife is not a witch, but he must obey the wealthy town council's instruction to use thumbscrews and hot irons. Jakob and Magdalena, with the help of a young doctor, must buy time as they try to figure out what the strange markings on the dead children mean and who drew them.


Hiding in the shadows are several orphans whose parents have been killed by the plague. Why are they being stalked by a creature with a skeletal hand ? There is evil in the village, but it doesn't come from the witches.





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