The Hangman's Daughter (The Hangman's Daughter, #1)
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The Hangman's Daughter (The Hangman's Daughter #1)

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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  34,810 ratings  ·  3,930 reviews
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. So begins The Hangman's Daughter--the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch--a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian ex...more
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published December 7th 2010 by AmazonCrossing (first published April 1st 2008)
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Jeffrey Keeten
“Under torture you are as if under the dominion of those grasses that produce visions. Everything you have heard told, everything you have read returns to your mind, as if you were being transported, not toward heaven, but toward hell. Under torture you say not only what the inquisitor wants, but also what you imagine might please him, because a bond (this, truly, diabolical) is established between you and him ... These things I know, Ubertino; I also have belonged to those groups of men who bel...more
Stacey
(Updated 1.30)
1.27.11 (20% read) Having a difficult time with this one. That's what I get for jumping on the popularity bandwagon. So far, the titular character has been on one page. ONE! WTF translators?!! Was this the original title? And it just feels a bit anachronistic, nothing (so far) I can really put a finger on, but I'm wondering if this is "new novelist" or "uninspired translation," or just plain sophomoric writing?

Meh. It'll get better, right? I hope... Last time I succumbed to "every...more
David Mullen
Mar 24, 2011 David Mullen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of historical fiction, thrillers, and mysteries
Recommended to David by: Amazon.com
I really enjoyed this historical thriller. It gives us a snapshot into the life of medieval Germans. It just has a very authentic ring to it. Although, the translator uses some rather modern language here and there in his translation...it was originally written in German. In fact the authors family is the actual family of our hangman in the title. This hangman is a 5th generation executioner, a medicine man, and a tough guy. He and the mid-wife in the town share helpful solutions back and forth...more
Willow
The Hangman’s Daughter is not quite the right title for this book. Yes the main character is a hangman, Jakob Kuisl, and yes, he's got a daughter, but this is not her story. She's not the main protagonist. The Hangman's Daughter is basically a mystery about some child murders.

The book starts off with Jakob as a boy witnessing a gristly, botched execution. It’s a shocking scene – grim and edgy. It perfectly captures the ghoulishness of 17th century, public, capital punishment.

Unfortunately it’s...more
Elle
I am torn about this book. I enjoyed it and would have given it at least 3 stars, possibly even 4, up until I'd completed 75% of it. At that point, it seemed to slowly fizzle out, leaving behind the historical crime novel it was to morph into a Scooby-Doo caper, where the bad guys are lurking in dimly-lit rooms, rubbing their hands together and cackling, and the good guys persevere via a combination of wits, dumb luck, and impossible coincidences. It was fairly well written up until that point,...more
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
I have read some reviews that say this is not about the Hangman's daughter, but about The Hangman (Jakob) & The Physician (Simon). I thought Magdalena played a key role - and I liked the strong female characters throughout the story. The midwives & also Jakob, being thought of as witches by the very same people that come knocking upon their doors after dark for a potion, or to help deliver a baby.

So well described are the people - the "devil with his bone hand" is truly frightening. The...more
Joel Margolese
Overall, this book reads like a college research paper reworked the following term for a creative writing class in the spring of freshman year.

I love good historical fiction, but this book just doesn't deserve the adjective. The first problem is the title. The Hangman's daughter is wonderful, but a very minor character. I learned after the fact that it's a translation (poorly done) and based on the author's family which explains his fawning view of the hangman. There were a number of anachronis...more
Carol
I loved this book. I thought the story of the handman's history was interesting. And the mystery of the killer kept me reading. I was surprised to find out, at the end of the book, the book is based on historical facts for the most part; as well as it being about his family history. We all want to know who our ancestors are; but to find out you can from a long line of hangman would be so shocking.
Tim "The Enchanter"
My #10 Favorite read of 2013

A superb 4.5 Stars

An excellent historical fiction mystery. The background is German town in 1659. Our two major players are the intelligent and kind-hearted town hangman/torturer/street cleaner and a young, questioning Doctor with an inquisitive mind.

I am a bit of a Historical Fiction snob. Traditionally, it has been my favorite genre. When I read a new HF, I have a hundred others to which it is compared. As a mystery, this book works exceptionally well. The story...more
Lyndz
I liked the last quarter of this book, I struggled with the first three-quarters. I had some issues with the translation. In addition to the flow being off for me in places, there were phrases and words that I had to stop and read again to understand what was meant. In the first half of the book, I found myself skimming large sections of descriptions that did not seem pertinent.
I had a hard time keeping the lesser characters in the book straight, and that was undoubtedly due to my own inability...more
Linda
This was a good book. One cannot complain at all about lack of description of the venue nor the main characters. The author makes them very real. As well as the gore, which really turned me off. Maybe I should have expected it given the title, but the detail, I felt was a bit over the top. At some point it started to drag for me, maybe because I had figured out the "whodunnit part." Funny thing is "The Hangman" is my favorite character in this novel. It was very interesting as far as being an hi...more
Brenda Whitner
This was definitely a page turner. I couldn't put the book down at times. The ending moved a little slow. This was the story about the executioner Jakob Kuisl and his mission to save the midwife Martha from a crime that she did not commit. Children were dying and on their backs were a witch’s symbol. They blamed the midwife for being a witch and had her arrested and tortured until she admitted that she committed the crime. Jakob knew that the midwife was innocent. Two children were murdered afte...more
Kristin
Actually reminds me a little of The Name of the Rose, but the main characters are secular. A surprisingly well-written and gripping free/very cheap Kindle find
Terri
The Hangman's Daughter held a surprise in its pages for me. It was not an immediate surprise and it took some time for it to actually dawn on me. It came late in the book. About two thirds of the way through, and despite what you may be thinking, no, it had nothing to do with the mystery or the 'hook' or the whodunnit. The surprise came in the form of the history and how the author's research had been inserted within the story.

I knew how important the research was to this author, as I was lucky...more
Ann Collette
There's been a lot of noise lately about Amazon bypassing major commercial publishers and publishing books directly themselves. Based on this deadly dull "thriller," major commercial publishing has nothing to worry about. I have no idea why it's called THE HANGMAN'S DAUGHTER, cause she doesn't play much of a role in the book. I have no idea why the translator of this book was chosen for the job, since he not only has zero understanding of pace but has no feel at all for the time period the book...more
Doreen
I chose this book because of its being set in Bavaria (a part of Germany I have visited and really like), because of its rather original concept (a hangman as detective), and because of the many glowing reviews it has received. I feel cheated.

Set in the village of Schongau in 1659, it revolves around the death and/or disappearance of several children. Martha Stechlin, the local midwife, is quickly suspected of being a witch and thought to be responsible. Jakob Kuisl, the hangman, must torture he...more
Tony
This first book in a series of 17th-century German historical mysteries is a complete success that left me eager to read the next one as soon as its translated. After a brief prologue, the story opens in a small Bavarian town about 30 miles southwest of present-day Munich. It's about a decade after the end of the Thirty Years War, and one of that bloody war's veterans, Jakob Kuisl, holds the salaried post of town hangman (a job whose functions include execution, torture, and street-cleaning). Wh...more
Tanja Berg
This book started at a four, descended to a three, then a two before I landed on a three. The ending partially redeemed the last third of the book which was incredibly boring despite its attempts at the opposite.

A little boy is found murdered in a small German town in the 17th century. On his shoulder he bears what is interpreted as a witch's mark. On top if it, the child had been seen at the midwife's place. The result is that a lynch mob descends on the midwife, who is saved by the hangman wh...more
Duffy Pratt
This is a fairly routine mystery/thriller in a wonderful setting. The place is Germany about 20 years after the Thirty Years War. The main character is the hangman for a small town. As a hangman, he also practices alternative medicine (knowing more about anatomy than doctors would know), and he takes up the garbage and the excrement once a week. For this, he is tolerated and shunned at the same time. His children are disreputable, and his daughter only fit to marry another hangman.

A dead child w...more
Nancy
I really liked this, particularly the detailed depiction of life in a Bavarian town in the 1600s just after the Thirty Years' War, but also for the main character, who is the town's hangman, one in a long line of hereditary executioners. This becomes all the more interesting when you learn in an afterword to the book that the author is himself a descendant of the main character, Jakob Kuisl. And the story is quite good, a multiple-murder mystery that revolves around wrongful accusations of witch...more
Kevin
Some mild spoilers ahead, but nothing big:

Overall I didn't think this was a bad book while I was reading it, and I still don't. I have to say that to offset what comes below, which is a whole lot of criticism and not very many compliments. The setting was engaging and well-written. It's obvious that Pötzsch has done ample research into what life in a smallish city in mid-1600s Bavaria was truly like. The story flowed fast with no bogged-down sections so it made for a quick read. The pace and the...more
Jill
I liked the author's writing style in this story of midwives, witches, and executioners in 17th-century Germany, but I felt that the book was longer than it needed to be. The author had problems with repeating himself and pacing the story, so some editing would have been useful. On the plus side, I now know several methods of torture with which I was previously unfamiliar.
Mmars
I thought the history within this book outshone its story. Set in Bavaria in the 1650s, a midwife is accused of witchcraft. The town's hangman and a young physician, in love with the hangman's daughter, believe the midwife is innocent and risk their lives to prove her innocence. Meanwhile, a leprosy sanitarium under construction near the town mysteriously burns down, and several orphans with signs of witchcraft engraved on their shoulders are murdered. I'm not an avid mystery reader and I'm usua...more
Chris
First, the title of the book, at least in its English translation, is misleading. While the Hangman does have a daughter and she is a somewhat important character, she is not the central character. The central characters are, in fact, the Hangman and Simon, the doctor.

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, the book has many, very many, overused plot devices. The hangman's daughter, for instance, is different from the other women in the novel, she is the equal of the men, even her mo...more
Nikki K
This is an incredibly interesting historical novel. You will not regret reading it!



I was skeptical of a book that was originally written in another language (German) and then translated to English. I had been concerned that it would be too literal, that certain turns of phrase would not read well in another language. I had been completely wrong!



Even after purchasing the book, I was undecided about reading it. I gave it the first chapter test. If after one chapter, I did not want to know what hap...more
Margaret
I suspect this book may deserve three stars, but I have to take one away because of the unbelievably leaden translation which nearly defeated my efforts to make it to the end. It's a galumphing and unhappy combination of ersatz period formality and strangely out of date contemporary slang ("they really get in each other's hair," "let's get some grub!", "Are you nuts?") that leaches all the energy and color out of what is otherwise a tidy little murder mystery with an idiosyncratic setting in a 1...more
Jon Donley
I love historical fiction that offers an education about the time and environment, and this is a great example.

The author is descended from a family of hereditary hangmen in Germany. The first lesson is that in this age and place, hangmen had an important place in the legal system - they were the torturers, the headsmen, the executioners and the burners-at-the-stake. The occupation was hereditary and families were feared and isolated in their communities. So German history is replete with such g...more
Dayna Ingram
I was quite taken with this novel in the beginning. It opened with a strong prologue; the straight-forward, non-sensational language, especially at the moment of executing a young girl, played well for me. It was fun being introduced to the town and the various players and the murder mystery. But the murder mystery itself was too easy to solve (a few more red herrings would have been nice), and the dialogue felt inauthentic for the time period. The narrative gradually became repetitious; I felt...more
Kim
Liked the story...it kept me guessing. I wasn't sure if it was a 3.5 star or 4, but I would have to choose on the higher end since I was mostly intrigued. I really liked the characters in the story. Lots of depth to them and some similarities between the heroes and villains. It saddens me to think of how people thought and acted in those times. If some sort of crime was committed, people were believed to be guilty even if at times they were proven innocent! And the wild stories of witchcraft and...more
Pam C
I loved everything about this book! I normally don't read something based just on a review I may have read elsewhere but I took a leap of faith with this one and it paid off. I found myself becoming totally invested in the characters of this 17th century world and was sad to see it end. Fortunately I had already gotten his next book, "The Dark Monk", so as soon as I finished book one I immediately started the next one. Already 100 pages in and it's just as good as the Hangman's Daughter.
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Oliver Pötzsch is a German writer and filmmaker. After high school he attended the German School of Journalism in Munich from 1992 to 1997. He then worked for Radio Bavaria. In addition to his professional activities in radio and television, Pötzsch researched his family history. He is a descendant of the Kuisle, from the 16th to the 19th Century a famous dynasty of executioners in Schongau.
More about Oliver Pötzsch...
The Dark Monk (The Hangman's Daughter, #2) The Beggar King (The Hangman's Daughter, #3) The Poisoned Pilgrim (The Hangman's Daughter, #4) The Ludwig Conspiracy The Hangman's Daughter - chapters 1-3

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“Life went on, despite all the dying.” 23 likes
“And all because of a mistaken concept of compassion!” 15 likes
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