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The Hangman's Daughter Paperback – August 2, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Rep Rei edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 054774501X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547745015
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,093 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Author Oliver Pötzsch

Question: What initially inspired you to write this story?

Oliver Pötzsch: As a descendant of the executioner’s dynasty Kuisl, I have been fascinated by their history since my childhood. Engaging myself with the Kuisls makes me feel connected to a greater lineage. In addition, executions are a fascinating topic often treated with undue prejudice. In this respect my books are a defense of my ancestors’ honour.

Question: What authors or books have influenced your writing?

Oliver Pötzsch: Regarding historic novels, my writing has been influenced by Paul Harding, Robert Harris, and the fantastic novel Terror by Dan Simmons. But I also look up to many authors of the fantasy genre such as Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, and the almost forgotten Fritz Leiber.

Question: What research did you do while writing your book?

Oliver Pötzsch: My grandmother’s deceased cousin was a passionate genealogist. In his life he built an enormous archive of information about my ancestors and the hangman profession, and I have been allowed free use of this resource. Also, during my career as a journalist I made several radio programs on this topic, talking to herb women and guardians of cultural heritage and searching in many archives of Bavarian cities for my ancestors.

Question: Is there any character you most identify with? Why?

Oliver Pötzsch: I am a cross between Jakob Kuisl and Simon Fronwieser. I am sometimes ferociously melancholic like Kuisl, and I have his stubbornness and his grumbling taciturnity which can drive my wife crazy. But also, like Simon, I am curious, I can be charming and at times even loquacious, and I love great coffee!

Question: Have you considered trying your hand at other genres?

Oliver Pötzsch: In March 2011, my new book, The Ludwig Conspiracy, will be released. It’s about the mysterious background of the death of King Ludwig II, the Bavarian fairy tale king. The novel is set in the present day; it is a contemporary thriller which I took great pleasure in writing. And one day I want to write a fantasy novel. As a child I couldn’t get enough of them.

Question: Have you always wanted to be an author? What other careers have you pursued?

Oliver Pötzsch: As a child I wanted to become a soccer commentator, actor, and yes, as a matter of fact, I wanted to become a writer. I always made up stories and wasted my youth on never-ending fantasy roleplaying.

Question: What's it like to have a book published for the first time?

Oliver Pötzsch: The first book is like the birth of a child, a long-cherished dream come true. Apart from that, every novel is really hard work! But I can’t think of anything else to do.

Question: What's next for you?

Oliver Pötzsch: After the thriller about Ludwig II, I am writing the fourth novel in the Hangman series. Later I will fulfil another childhood dream of mine and go live in Iceland for a while. Without my mobile or laptop. It is something I promised my family. Well, I might take a big notepad for a few new ideas...

(Photo © Dominik Parzinger)


From Publishers Weekly

"A brilliantly-researched and exciting story of a formative era of history when witches were hunted and the inquisitors had little belief in their methods beyond their effect in pacifying superstitious townspeople . . . Pötzsch, actually descended from a line of hangmen, delivers a fantastically fast-paced read, rife with details on the social and power structures in the town as well as dichotomy between university medicine and the traditional remedies, which are skillfully communicated through character interactions, particularly that of Magdalena and Simon. The shocking motivations from unlikely players provide for a twist that will leave readers admiring this complex tale from a talented new voice." —Publishers Weekly

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.

Related Media


Customer Reviews

If you want a page turner that will keep you up at night then read this book.
Sue Story
It was a bit predictable and the chase scenes went on a little too long (I kept thinking the book should be ending soon, but it wasn't).
Susan Anderson
Great character development and good mystery plot that kept the story moving.
Lisa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,147 of 1,210 people found the following review helpful By EJ on December 26, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Hangman's Daughter seems to be one of this year's buzz books. I read a few professional reviews and it really seemed like an interesting story. Historical thrillers are like catnip to me, and this one is a translation from the original German book which was written by a descendant of the book's fictionalized main character. So, my hopes were high. Unfortunately, the writing in the book was uneven enough that the overall package was not as terrific as I'd hoped.

This book tells the tale of Jakob Kuisl, a hangman with a heart in a small Bavarian town in the 1600's. Naturally, his daughter also has a role in the book, though she is not as prominent as one might expect from the title. In any event, some murders in the town result in the arrest of a midwife for witchcraft, and Jakob and some other well-meaning citizens try to solve the mystery before time runs out for the midwife. Meanwhile, the majority of the village's aldermen are uninterested in the truth and are only interested in protecting their money. The historical aspects of the story are very interesting, and the beginning of the book got off to such an excellent, riveting, and fast-paced start that I recommended it to a friend when I was about halfway through. Unfortunately, things started to slide downhill after that (if you are reading this: sorry Amanda!).

The biggest problem with the book were the 'action' scenes. After the mystery is laid out there is a lot of chasing and hiding and fighting, etc, but not enough to hold my interest. These were sections where I was skimming just to get through them. In addition, by the time the action started, I found myself not caring overly much about either the villains or the heroes in the story.
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895 of 966 people found the following review helpful By Happy Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This English edition of "The Hangman's Daughter" is Lee Chadeayne's translation of "Die Henkerstochter", by Oliver Potzsch. (There's an umlaut over the "o" in his name, but I don't know how to make that!) The mystery's last chapter is titled "A Kind of Postscript", where Potzsch describes how he is a descendent of the real-life Kuisl executioner family. He uses the names of a real forebear for his protagonist, Jakob Kuisl, the offical town hangman, and Jakob's immediate family. Though Potzsch has researched the life and times of a Bavarian hangman and the town he lives in, this particular storyline, murder and other characters are fictional.

This is very interesting stuff. As is made clear in the novel, executioners were necessary for carrying out legal death sentences, but they and their families were shunned outcasts. They pretty much married only within other executioner families. In addition, executioners were the torturers back when a confession through torture was the legal method of determining guilt. Humans have unlimited ability to rationalize anything. So a suspect is tortured until she confesses to the crime. She is not guilty until she confesses. The torture continues until she confesses, after which she is put to death, or until she dies from the torture without confessing. The moral of the story is, don't make anyone mad enough to blame you for something.

I guess when I think "tried for witchcraft", I usually think "Inquisition". But it wasn't just the church that held trials for accused witches. Anybody could claim injury from a witch, and the secular authorities held their own trials for witchcraft.

For example, the 1692 Salem Witch Trials were secular.* And it's the same in "The Hangman's Daughter".
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467 of 537 people found the following review helpful By kjb on February 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm truly baffled by the rave reviews this book has received! I agree that the first chapter was extremely graphic, exciting and promised to be a fascinating book. However, after that it read like the books my son read when he was 13 years old. It was one cliche after another along with phrases that would not have been used in the 1600's: "That was the devil. And he's got away from us. All because you crapped your pants." Then, "If we don't have the true culprit by then, they won't screw around for long, the midwife will be done for." I'm mean COME ON!!! It wasn't until the end of the book (after the third chapter, I was so ready for it to end) that I learned it had been translated. I'm wondering if the author realizes that the English translation is filled with so many ridiculous and banal phrases!!?!! I sure wish I understood German because I'm sure that version is more authentic and reads like a true novel. The translator was lazy and made no effort whatsoever.
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170 of 194 people found the following review helpful By Cameron B. Clark VINE VOICE on November 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The sensory-descriptive writing of Oliver Potzsch takes one back in history to that place in time near the end of the Renaissance and before the Enlightenment where beliefs in witches empowered by the devil were still strongly held in the Bavarian town of Schongau. His startling prologue about the gory execution of Elisabeth Clement in October 1624 by Jakob Kuisl's father, the town executioner, sets the stage for the novel's main story thirty-five years later involving Jakob as the new executioner, his daughter Magdalena, and her love interest Simon Fronwieser, the town's physician's son. The witch trials and executions of numerous women from years ago have cooled down, but the recent death of a child bearing a witch's mark threatens to revive them. Since the child and some of his comrades who turn up missing were with the midwife Martha Stechlin, she is arrested and held in the town's keep to be tortured by Kuisl for a confession. Martha assisted Kuisl's wife in the birth of Jakob's own children. He, his daughter, and Simon believe she is innocent and act as detectives to find the true murderer with the hope of saving Martha from execution.

One of the elements that makes this novel so moving is that Kuisl doesn't enjoy torturing and killing innocent people. He has a conscience. He also believes in God, although he finds God more in the beauties of nature than in mankind. Nonetheless, he inherited the job from his father who inherited it from his father. It is just a job, and when he tortures innocent people, including Martha, he realizes that if he didn't do it, someone else would. His affection for Martha, even assisting her to endure the suffering he inflicts, is unforgettable.
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