Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: The Hangman's Daughter

macabre [muh-kah-bruh]
1. gruesome and horrifying; ghastly; horrifying
2. of, pertaining to, dealing with, or representing death, especially its grimmer or uglier aspect.
3. of or suggestive of the allegorical dance of death.

Let me start by saying that the only reason I chose this book is beacuse I'm a sucker for a deal.

I get approximately a million "Deal of the Day" emails each morning.  And one day, Amazon's deal was this Kindle download for 99 cents.  I thought, "Sure, why not?" and bought the deal.

I believe that technically, The Hangman's Daughter could fall into the historical fiction genre.  It takes place in the mid-17th century in Germany.  (This is actually a translated version of the originally German text.)  At this time, executioner was a profession in each town.  The hangman was looked upon as the lowest member of society, as were his kin. 

This particular hangman, Jacob Kuisl, happened to be a very good man, even though he was dismissed by all of society.

The story is a mystery.  A group of orphans is being killed off one by one.  On the back of each dead child is found a "witches mark" (or the circle and cross symbol that we now recognize as "female").  The town midwife was immediately blamed, and the town began to call for her to burn at the stake.

The hangman, believing in her innocence, sets out to discover who the real killer is.  He is aided by his daughter, as well as the town physician, who does not care that the townspeople mock him for his association with the executioner.

All in all, the mystery portion of this book was quite good.  I was very engaged in finding out which of the respected townsmen was actually responsible for setting a man known as "The Devil" on a rampage that involved murder and a treasure hunt. 

The murders, executions, and torture, however, were at times a little hard to stomach.  Macabre is truly the best descriptor of this book that I could come up with.

I will say that for 99 cents, this was a worthwhile purchase.  I will say that overall, I enjoyed this book, as I love a good mystery.  I will also say that this is not a book for the faint of heart. 

A mix of murder mystery, suspense, history, with a touch of romance, The Hangman's Daughter is worthy of 3.75 stars out of 5.

I am nothing if not precise.

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