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The Dark Monk (US Edition) (A Hangman's Daughter Tale) Paperback – June 12, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The brutality and ignorance of 17th-century Bavaria serves as the backdrop for Pötzsch's thrilling second whodunit featuring an unlikely trio of sleuths (after 2011's The Hangman's Daughter). When the parish priest, Andreas Koppmeyer, eats some poisoned doughnuts after sealing up a mysterious something in his church basement, he manages to scratch a mark on the frost covering a gravestone as he expires. Figuring out what that dying clue means and who doctored the pastries falls to Altenstadt hangman Jakob Kuisl; his daughter, Magdalena, an apprentice midwife; and her suitor, Simon Fronwieser, a doctor's son. Fronwieser links a Latin phrase seen in a crypt with the Templars, raising the possibility that Koppmeyer stumbled on a secret relating to that shadowy society. Meanwhile, the depredations of a gang of robbers threaten local commerce. Fans of Michael Gregorio's early 19th-century Prussian series (Unholy Awakening, etc.) will find a lot to enjoy.

From Booklist

Originally published in Germany in 2009, this sequel to The Hangman’s Daughter begins in January 1660 with the murder of a priest and takes readers on a wild adventure to uncover the secret of a long-hidden (and possibly mythical) treasure of the Knights Templar. Potzsch does an excellent job of plunking the reader down in seventeenth-century Germany; Jakob Kuisl, the town hangman, and his daughter, Magdalena, don’t seem like made-up characters in a fictional landscape but, rather, like real people in a real place (in fact, the Kuisl family of executioners actually existed, and Potzsch is descended from them). The author supplies enough historical detail to give readers a good sense of the time and place but not too much to risk boring them with unnecessary details. Readers will also appreciate the nice balance between drama, suspense, and humor: this is a serious story, Potzsch seems to be saying, but it's OK to have some fun with it. At least two more books in the series are forthcoming, and they will be most welcome.
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Product Details

  • Series: A Hangman's Daughter Tale (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547807686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547807683
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,391 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Oliver Pötzsch, born in 1970, has worked for years as a scriptwriter for Bavarian television. He himself is a descendant of one of Bavaria's leading dynasties of executioners.

He lives in Munich with his family.

Photo © Dominik Parzinger.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

151 of 163 people found the following review helpful By MommaMia VINE VOICE on March 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Oliver Potzsch is by far one of the finest storytellers of our time. The Dark Monk is a fantastic follow up to The Hangman's Daughter. Again, he brings the world of Jakob Kuisl, the hangman of Schongau, vividly to life.

His characters are well crafted, the story is a maze of mystery and intrigue with a dash of romance. I adore Magdalena, Jakob's daughter. She is a passionate, intelligent woman who I admire for her strength of character. Her lover Simon, the town doctor, is certainly a more interesting character because of her presence in his life. If not for her, he'd be just another small town doctor who cares far too much for his appearance. She gives him depth, and he gives her an ounce of respectability, which is virtually impossible for a woman in her social position in that time period. Being the daughter of the hangman was certainly a fact that made people fear her, and gave her little options in life. Her relationship with Simon really mixes things up a bit in this story, especially when the beautiful Benedikta Koppmeyer arrives in town.

This story centers on the murder of a priest, and the confounding clues he leaves behind. We are swept into the world of the Knights Templar, their secrets and mysteries that have made them so fascinating throughout history, are laid bare here, and are center stage in this well crafted tale.

I look forward to further installments in the Hangman's Daughter series. Thank you Mr. Potzsch, for creating these fascinating characters!

This is truly a 5-star success!
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132 of 148 people found the following review helpful By loce_the_wizard VINE VOICE on April 18, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Oliver Pötzsch used the motif of the mystery novel and applies it to "The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughter Tale," set in 1660. It's winter with a capital "W" in the Bavarian Alps. The story takes us and his characters from village to village with excursions through the countryside and to a series of monasteries.

The plot is set in motion when a poisoned priest uses his dying wits and strength to leave a clue that proves a gateway into a bigger mystery, drawing in the stalwart trio of hangman, executioner, and healer Jakob Kuisl; his somewhat stubborn but attractive daughter Magdalena; and the town physician's son who is a bit of a dandy but smart as a whip, Simon. But while this mystery is the story's center, other events are also crucial, chiefly, a group robbers are preying on travelers, particularly merchants and their cargos, and a deadly illness is killing many of the villagers.

Along with the murdered priest's sister, this group follows a trail of various clues and riddles, each leading to more answers and more questions. Tracking this core group is a trio of murderous monks (not sure which one is actually the dark monk of the title), various church leaders, and another trio of soldiers-for-hire. As you might imagine, murder, mayhem, kidnapping, and so forth ensue.

The story seems as though the scenes were staged for a play or graphic novel with characters tripping over each other in unexpectedly places. I thought that the plot and resolution hinged on a series of increasingly unlikely coincidences playing out and bringing the characters back together in, for me, an ultimately unsatisfactory resolution.
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79 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I read some of the reviews of the first book in this series (The Hangman's Daughter) I was both intrigued and worried. It sounded like an interesting period to set a mystery-type series, but some of the reviewers seemed to think the book was both anachronistic and ahistorical in certain ways. That may have been true of the first book (I can't say, as I haven't yet read it) but it certainly isn't true of this one.

I found The Dark Monk to be fast-paced and interesting without sacrificing the feel of the era in which the story is set. The pace of actual events may take place at 17th century speed, but the interactions and descriptions of the various character's mental workings was very well-written and entertaining. The book has several interesting characters and you get to hear the story from their point of view in different chapters. The main characters are Jakob (the hangman), Magdalena (his daughter) and Simon (what passes for a doctor in the 17th century).

Jakob is the kind of iconoclastic detective I'm a real sucker for. He is going to do things his own way and ultimately will rely chiefly on his own counsel, even though he allows Simon and Magdalena brief glimpses into what is going on in his head.

Simon is the kind of character who you alternately like, pity, despise, and then like again. He can be vain and flawed, but he also realizes his short comings and exhibits humanity during a period of time when people had to scratch and claw 24/7 just to keep going.

Magdalena alternates between fierce pride that she is the hangman's daughter and dangerous despair that her position in her village will prevent her from having what she wants in life-- namely, Simon.
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