The Kuisil family is back, and crankier than ever. This is the fifth book in the series, and one thing hold true: Jakob Kuisil is kind of a dick, his daughter is a bit of a shrew, and the whole family is pretty screwed up. The good news (for them, at least) is that they’re a clever bunch. The bad news is that because Jakob is a hangman, descended from a long line of hangmen, they are considered the dregs of society, live in squalor, and people cross the street to avoid them.
Jakob has a brother who is the executioner in Bamberg, which is pretty far from the Kuisl’s home in Schongau. Jakob, Magdalena, her husband Simon Fronweiser (failed medical student, current bathhouse owner), their kids, and Barbara Kuisl make the trip for Bartholomaus’ wedding – and also to see Barbara’s twin brother (Jakob’s their dad) Georg. Georg had to get out of Schongau a few years before after beating the snot out of one of his “betters.” Georg is now Bart’s apprentice hangman. Bart has a huge grudge against Jakob, but he invited the family because his fiance wants everyone to get along. Which, in this group, ain’t easy.
People have been disappearing from Bamberg for a month or so, and body parts have been turning up. People are worried, and some of the more religious folk (which is a lot of people, considering this takes place in 1626) think it might be a werewolf. Not everyone thinks so, but something scary is definitely going on.
Years ago there was a series of witch trials in which no one was safe – a number of high-ranking people were tortured and burned, their homes and belongings confiscated. People are starting to flash back to that time, wondering if Bamberg is doomed to repeat the past. Jakob and Magdalena get involved in the investigation, while Barbara gets involved with a troupe of actors, and the whole family bickers constantly. But they band together when things get rough, and bring the evildoer(s) to justice, or what passes for justice in 17th century Bavaria.
I actually pre-bought this one, that’s how much I enjoy the Hangman’s Daughter series. I can’t say the same for Potzch’s other book, The Ludwig Conspiracy. Had to stop reading that one a couple of chapters in. Ham-fisted and over-wrought in the extreme. There are some types of stories that lend themselves to that type of storytelling, like the HD books. Here’s hoping Potzch sticks to them.