Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: Schongau, a town in 1659 Germany
First Sentence: October 12 was a good day for a killing.
It is the middle of the 17th century. Years of plague and war have left the town of Shongau fearful of the wrath of God. The townspeople fear the unknown, witches and the Devil.
In this dark and gloomy German town three young boys have been murdered. Each bears an arcane sign, proof of the work of a witch. Also, two young girls have gone missing. The frightened townspeople immediately accuse the local midwife of being a witch. She is quickly imprisoned. The town's leaders want to torture and execute her to avoid a bloody witch hunt.
Lurking in the dark streets of Schongau is a strange assortment of characters: Jakob the town's hangman, his daughter Magdelina, Simon the young physician, strange foreign soldiers, and perhaps the Devil himself. The hangman, his daughter, and the physician believe that the midwife is innocent. They must find the proof in a town gripped with superstitious fear.
Who has ordered the deaths of the children? And why?
Can Jakob, Simon and Magdelina solve the mystery and prevent more gristly deaths?
I enjoyed this novel. Unlike many mystery novels, there is no clever sleuth. There is no grand evil plan. The characters, both good and evil, make choices and take action. Ultimately, luck plays a large role in the outcome of the story. For me, this makes the plot more believable.
The fact that this novel was translated from German to English made it an interesting read. The translator made some interesting word choices. The German place names and character names were a challenge but did not take away from my enjoyment of the novel.
Overall, a unique historical mystery, and a good read.
The Hangman's Daughter
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