If you like well researched historical fiction, engaging characters, and well plotted and often challenging mysteries, Oliver Pötzsch has you covered with his The Hangman’s Daughter series. So far, the books, in order are: #1: The Hangman’s Daughter, #2: The Dark Monk, #3: The Beggar King, #4: The Poisoned Pilgrim, #5: The Werewolf of Bamberg, #6: The Play of Death. (I stacked them wrong, sorry.) The 7th book will be out early in ‘018.

The main characters are members of the executioner dynasty of the Kuisl family of Bavaria. The author is a descendant of the Kuisl family, and is a meticulous researcher. The books are set in the mid to late 1660s. They are altogether engaging and interesting, with a host of recurring characters, many of the likable; many of them detestable, all of whom you get to know quite well. Most of these characters are various inhabitants of Schongau. The character of Johann Lechner brings Havelock Vetinari to mind, just a bit, albeit with a more Medieval sensibility, which is not always a good thing.

There are, obviously, distressing events in the books, but for the most part, they are kept on the somewhat low key side.  The one exception to this is the prologue in The Hangman’s Daughter, which is both horrifying and very grisly. Mercifully, it’s short. These books are in no way any sort of paean to torture or the like. Altogether, they are grand books, recommended.


  1. says

    It’s rare that a book’s title just flat-out grabs me but that one does!

    I wish my “to read” stack weren’t out of control and running off down the hallway with no brakes.

    I’m halfway through my stack of Fred Vargas and loving it. Just finished the plague one and that was a great deal of fun.

  2. says

    Oh, Have Mercy on Us All is one of my most fave of the Adamsberg series. After that, y’know, there are the three of the 3 evangelist books, which are centered around the historians, Marc, Mathias, and Lucien. And Armand Vandoosler, of course. Clementine is a recurring character too, and in Wash This Blood Clean From My Hands, Jean-Baptiste takes refuge with Clementine and Josette, a little old hacker extraordinaire.

    Which particular title grabbed you? The Hangman’s Daughter?

  3. says

    You’d quite like Magdalena, I think. She’s the hangman’s daughter. And I expect you’d quite like her father, Jakob, too. I certainly do like them both.

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