Originally published in ebook format by AmazonCrossing in 2010, an imprint that offers foreign-language books in translation, The Hangman’s Daughter was released in print this month by Mariner Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
This historical mystery is the first in a series that is very popular in Germany. (Two more titles in the series are already available there, but not yet translated into English.) Oliver Pötzsch is a screenwriter for television, and his novel reads quite vividly. It’s also fun to know that Pötzsch is a descendant of the executioners in the Kuisil line.
Adult/High School–In 1659 in a small town in Bavaria, an orphan has been murdered and there is a symbol etched on his body pointing to witchcraft. The town clerk is certain that midwife Martha Setchlin is the witch and she is rushed to prison to be made ready to confess. When two more orphans are found dead with the same symbols on their bodies, and two others go missing, the town is ripe for a witch burning. But there is more to these crimes than can be explained by witchcraft, and executioner Jacob Kuisl doesn’t believe that Martha is guilty. Garnering the help of his daughter, Magdalena, and a young physician, they work to discover the truth behind the murders. Based on the author’s family history, this excellent story brings 17th-century Bavaria alive with all its fears, superstitions and politics. Jacob Kuisl is not your ordinary hangman, and readers will root for him and his search for the truth. There’s enough “unreality” in the evil of superstitions that this novel may appeal to fantasy readers, and the twists and turns of the plot will appeal to mystery fans.–Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA