“This was the first Amazon Lending library book I downloaded. It was free and looked interesting. I hadn't heard anything about it before then. It is one of the best books I have read in awhile. I have a thing with endings, I'm really picky about them, however this one wasn't too shabby, but that may have something to do with the fact that there are at least two more books in this series. (Maybe more? I'm not sure if it is a planned trilogy or a series.) Either way it was good. Very descriptive, but it really did keep me guessing because even though you as the reader were "in" on what "the devil" was doing, for the longest time no one's name was used, and even when names were used (which occurred about 2 chapters from the end, it seemed) the reader didn't know whom any of the people where.
I read this on my kindle and my only complaints are that the pictures were tiny and the way the text fell, you would sometimes turn the page and be on a different set of characters than you were just reading about on the page before. I'm assuming that in the physical book there was a dividing space, but that just didn't come through on the kindle, but that didn't harm the book at all.
What's neat is that this is based on the author's historical family. Kuisl is a family name and they used to be hangmen. He used a lot of family historical research, that was done by an uncle, to form the book, however I don't think the plot is true to the family.
I thought that since the title is The Hangman's Daughter that his daughter would have more of a central role, but she doesn't. I would say that she is a third main character. The first is the Hangman, Kuisl and the young doctor, Simon Fronwieser, who is in love with the hangman's daughter.
Kuisl didn't want to be a hangman, it disgusted him, but then he went off to war and was a solider and that didn't please him any more, so he came back to his hometown to become the hangman. He is very well read and also practices newer medicine, more like what we have today. Simon Fronwieser is the younger doctor and likes the newer medicine too and comes over to read Kuisl's books.
Soon a young child is found dead with a supposed witches mark on his shoulder. The midwife is suspected to be a witch and thrown in jail. The hangman and the young doctor don't think she is the killer. Then another child winds up dead with the same mark on the shoulder. It is discovered that all of these children were orphans that were taken in by other families. they hung out together and were at the midwife's house often. soon another dead child is found and two more go missing. The "witch" is tortured, but the hangman tells her not to admit to anything because they are going to find who really did it. He gives her a potion to make her sleep so they can't continue the questioning and to buy them more time to find the killer.
The site where the new leper house is being constructed has been destroyed/vandalized and someone reported seeing the devil around the house where little Clara Shreevogel was last scene. His one hand is made completely of bones.
The hangman and Fronwieser investigate at the site and talked to Jacob Shreevogel, whose father gave the land to the church when he died. he mentioned that his father should have much wealth but it wasn't mentioned in the will and they couldn't find it in the house. Hangman and Fronwieser got a map of the area and learned that the well on the property was dry and figured that's where the children were hiding. They also guessed that is where all Old Shreevogel's money was hidden and why the property was destroyed, someone wanted the money, but only so many people new about the money.
The two found the children in dwarves' tunnels that were under the well, but they also led the devil directly to them and the hangman had it out with him and killed him. The two children, sophie and clara, had run and hid because they didn't want the devil to find them and kill them too, and if they told the truth people would think that they were witches too. However, it turned out that the children overheard the men looking for money and the men thought the children could identify them, so they were ordered to be killed, however the children saw nothing. The mark on their shoulders they had done to themselves, with juice. It was the symbol for hemitite.
There was only one person who would know about the money and that was Augustin, one of the burghers. He was the one Old Shreevogel asked to speak with on his deathbed. He had lent Shreevogel money and this was the money that he was owed back or else his name and reputation would forever be negative. It turned out that it was Augustin's son who decided that the children should be killed. The hangman had found the money when he was in the tunnels looking for the children and said he'd give it to Augustin if he persuaded the rest of the counsel and the Landgrave that the midwife was innocent and should be let go and that the children were just playing a harmless game.
He was successful in his convincing and they ended up catching and killing all but one of the soldiers that were in the group killing the children, that last man was drowned in the river while in pursuit of Magdalena. He also kept his name good.
Kuisl took some of the money promised and used it to buy books for Simon Fronwieser. He also seemed to be becoming to terms with that fact that his daughter may marry Simon. Kuisl also spoke with the court clerk and he basically admitted that when he thought about things it was obvious that Augustin was the one behind all of this, but that it was easier and better for the town if the "witch" died and that was that. Kuisl was disgusted with him.
At the end Simon went home to read his new doctor books.
It was def. left open for another book, but it could have ended how it did and it still would have been a pretty good book.