Book Review: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

February 23, 2023


The Hangman’s Daughter (Die Henkerstochter) by Oliver Pötzsch is a murder/mystery novel which takes place at the Bavarian town of Schongau in 1659. Mr. Pötzsch is a German writer and filmmaker.

  • 464 pages
  • Publisher ‏ : AmazonCrossing
  • Language ‏ : English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : 1611091497

Book Review: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch
My rat­ing for The Hangman’s Daughter4
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I previously read Lord High Executioner by Howard Engel and The Faithful Executioner by Joel F. Harrington, both are a fantastic read detailing the life of executioners. After the first paragraph of The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch (translated by Lee Chadeayne) I am pretty sure that the author read the same book.
Already a positive start.

I bought this book when it was on sale, and it took me a few years to read it. I’m sure many bibliophile know exactly what I’m talking about. Nevertheless, it was the right time, and I had the right book.

I enjoyed the story very much, the author put in just enough history to make it enjoyable but didn’t dwell on the details to make the narrative drag. The murder/mystery played second fiddle to the excellent descriptions of the executioner’s job, as well as small burg life in 17th Century Germany. I enjoyed reading about the town’s politics, way of life, governance, as well as collective fears of both the citizens and the Aldermen.

I don’t understand why the author decided to give the book its title. Magdalena, whom the book is named after, doesn’t play a big role in it. I can think of at least five characters that are more engaging. Even her physician/boyfriend Simon Fronwieser was more interesting, actually The Hangman’s Daughter’s Boyfriend would probably be a more apt title, but not as marketable.

And even though I should know better, I didn’t understand the whole social-media hoopla around this book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an enjoyable journey, and I certainly recommend reading it, but I’ve read much better books which didn’t get a fraction of traction this book got.

The author did a good job relating the hysteria behind the witch hunts, the religious hypocrisy, and the courts duplicity play a central role in the plot. The book is good example of entertaining historical fiction, which is what I hoped it would be.


A dying boy, crudely tattooed, is pulled out from the river. The town’s hangman/unofficial medic, Jakob Kuisi, is asked to investigate. The townspeople are sure that witchcraft is involved, and arrest the town’s midwife, Martha Stechlin and Jacob is charged with torturing her to extract a confession.

A learned man, Jacob doesn’t believe in witchcraft and investigates the boy’s murder himself. He has a tight timeline, if the religious witch hunter arrives, many women will be charged and executed. He must either fine the killer, or execute an innocent woman to prevent more being killed.

Buy The Hangman’s Daughter from*
More Books by Oliver Pötzsch*
More Books translated by Lee Chadeayne*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I bought this book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

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