The third installment of the popular Hangman’s Daughter series, is, in my opinion, the weakest offering to date. The novel lacked some of the clever storytelling of the two previous novels and the chirpy relationship between the characters started to become tiring. While I still recommend the series, this installment is average at best.
Jakob Kuisl, our loveable hangman, torturer, herbalist and garbage collector, is summoned to a distant town by a letter claiming his sister is dying of illness. Upon entering the city, he finds himself in the midst of a conspiracy that threatens to turn the Hangman into the hanged. Unaware of her father’s troubles, Magdalena and Simon run off to the same city hoping to put the prejudices carried by their families behind them. It is up to them to uncover the secrets the city is hiding. Along the way they meet a large cast of colorful and memorable characters as the story culminates in a explosive finish where the past haunts the present.
Plenty of Colour
If Potzsch does anything right, it is the creation of colourful and interesting characters. From a secretive man with a grudge, to a King of the Beggars with prominent gold teeth to a exceptionally short but highly virile Venetian diplomat, the author fills the novel with a memorable cast. Although the players are the main attraction of the novel, I would not go so far to say that this is strictly a character novel. While the characters are interesting, they are not especially deep and require a good plot to go along with the interesting faces.
The novels in the series are not lacking in historical elements. The author clearly has a love for German history and the castles and cities of old Germany. Throughout the story and in an added section at the end of the book, we are taken on a guided tour though the back streets and alleys of these ancients cities and we visit their monuments and sacred places. Additionally, the stories always involve elements of ancient prejudices and real problems suffered by people at that time. The mystery in this story involved one of these issues but I won’t tell you what it is. You will have to read it and find out for yourself.
This installment did not live up the to the quality of the first two novels. The author tried to string together too many threads of story and the plot was all over the place. It was as if the author was trying to be extra clever this time around but with so many side stories he really needed another 100 pages or so to do them justice. Additionally, the quality of the writing did not seem to be on par with the earlier offerings. Not having read the original German text, I cannot say that the translation was bad but the writing seemed more simplistic and less descriptive than his other offerings.
Overall, I found the characters to be entertaining but the plot to be underwhelming. While I still highly recommend the series, this installment lacked some of the spark of its predecessors.
It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.
Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest
Sex – 2.5
There are about two scenes where we know characters have had sex but there is nothing graphic. There is a scene where some characters are naked and are caught prior to sex. Again, there are no graphic descriptions. There is occasional mention of prostitutes in the story.
Language – 1.5
There is mild use of adult language which are generally mild obscenities.
Violence – 3.5
There are a variety of murders in the story. There is some moderately graphic descriptions of person with cut throats. There are multiple fights. There are several scenes of torture that are moderately graphic.