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

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  51,410 Ratings  ·  4,892 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
Jun 16, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
Jan 30, 2011 Stacey rated it liked it
Shelves: my-library-ebook, imo
(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
David Mullen
Mar 24, 2011 David Mullen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of historical fiction, thrillers, and mysteries
Recommended to David by:
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 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
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 is. 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.

Joel Margolese
May 16, 2012 Joel Margolese rated it it was ok
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
 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
Jan 04, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 07, 2011 Lyndz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 05, 2015 Doreen rated it did not like it
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
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
Interesting story. I do agree with what others have said, that this book could have been shorter. There really was some stuff that didnt have to be in it to enjoy it. But all in all this was an good book about whether or not witchcraft took place in their town when dead bodies with weird marks start showing up.
Ann Collette
Oct 18, 2011 Ann Collette rated it did not like it
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
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
Apr 29, 2011 Linda rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own-on-kindle
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
Mar 07, 2011 Brenda Whitner rated it really liked it
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
Mar 28, 2016 Carmen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
This story takes place in Bavaria in 1659. It is not really that much about the hangman's daughter, than it is about the hangman and the young physician in the town. There is a lot about torture and death that is a little uncomfortable to read about. But overall it was gripping and had compelling characters. He kind of marginalizes the daughter, actually. It is more of a 'man's' book. However, he does have her escape from her kidnappers on her own rather than having her father or her boyfriend r ...more
Mar 31, 2011 Kristin rated it it was amazing
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
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
Dec 08, 2010 Tony rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 28, 2011 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
aPriL does feral sometimes
'The Hangman's Daughter' did not have much to do with the hangman's daughter. Who dreams up the titles of books for publishers? Is there some sort of master book of book title words that should be worked into the titles of all books published for that year, like the one the fashion industry has to announce what colors all the designers should concentrate on?


The novel 'The Hangman's Daughter' is book one in Oliver Pötzsch's mystery series set in 1659 A.D., a time period on the cusp betwe
"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[...]"

I think it was set in Germany, somewhere around 1660 (who's counting?), but otherwise, the description for this book is full of lies. The mark wasn't "tattooed" crudely or otherwise, it was drawn in freaking berry juice.
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈
This is a hard book to review. On one hand, I thought this book was really well-written, interesting, and in many ways, seriously awesome, and one the other hand, was a big, fat, meh.

I think part of it is my fault--I totally read this at the wrong time: a time when I was just leaving my job, had very little time to read, and was reading it for book club, so the pressure was on to GIT 'ER DUNN. My boyfriend was also IN Augsburg, Germany (the same place in Germany where this little ditty takes pla
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
Duffy Pratt
Jul 05, 2013 Duffy Pratt rated it liked it
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
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
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
Oct 12, 2011 Margaret rated it it was ok
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
#2015-Reading-Challenge-Group--Week 46: a book originally written in a different language (German).

A murder mystery set in Bavaria in 1659: a young boy is pulled from the Lech River with mortal stabs wounds to his chest but the mood of the townspeople abruptly turns from horror to rage when a suspicious tattoo is found on the body. The local midwife who befriended the boy is accused of witchcraft and the hangman, Johann Jakob Kuisl, is charged with torturing a confession from her. The court cler
Oct 21, 2011 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, mystery
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.
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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...

Other Books in the Series

The Hangman's Daughter (6 books)
  • 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 Werewolf of Bamberg (The Hangman's Daughter, # 5)
  • Die Henkerstochter und das Spiel des Todes (The Hangman's Daughter #6)

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“Life went on, despite all the dying.” 35 likes
“And all because of a mistaken concept of compassion!” 16 likes
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