A murder, a witch hunt and a wonderful set of olde world characters makes The Hangman’s Daughter a superb read for historical fiction lovers.
A historical thriller set in Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play in his small Bavarian town. Whispers and dark memories of witch trials and the women burned at the stake just seventy years earlier still haunt the streets of Schongau. When more children disappear and an orphan boy is found dead—marked by the same tattoo—the mounting hysteria threatens to erupt into chaos.
Before the unrest forces him to torture and execute the very woman who aided in the birth of his children, Jakob must unravel the truth. With the help of his clever daughter, Magdelena, and Simon, the university-educated son of the town’s physician, Jakob discovers that a devil is indeed loose in Schongau. But it may be too late to prevent bloodshed.
I flew through this book! I just couldn’t put it down. It has such a great set of characters. The Hangman, smart and magnanimous, is a respected but separated killer of necessity. He’s bound by family to do the towns dirty work of torture and death but we get to see the softer side of this hulking man. His kindness does not go unnoticed as he turns detective to protect a women he believes is innocent and a daughter he would die for.
The setting of the book is just as important as the characters and the author does a wonderful job mixing modern words with olde world surroundings. The backdrop is a town in Germany which has seen war and witch hunts. It’s run by first families and a last name can mean the difference between poverty and privilege.
There’s lots of suspense which made this story a real page turner. There’s a bit of humor too. It is a bit predictable, but the greatness of this book doesn’t lie in the destination but in the ride along the way.
If you liked this book, give Mistress of the Art of Death series by Ariana Franklin a try. It’s a great historical, smart murder mystery set in medieval England.