The Play of Death

The Play of Death

A Hangman's Daughter Tale

Book - 2017 | First Mariner Books edition.
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The mysterious sixth entry in the Hangman's Daughter series

It is 1670 and Simon Fronwieser is in the town of Oberammergau to bring his seven-year-old son to boarding school. As he bids his boy a tearful farewell, news comes of a shocking murder: the man who was to play the part of Christ in the town's Passion Play has been found dead, nailed to the set's cross. As there is no doctor in town, Simon is brought in to examine the body. The chance to spend more time with his son and to investigate the murder quickly convince him to stay.

Soon he is joined by his father-in-law, Jakob Kuisl, the Schongau hangman, and the two begin piecing together the puzzle of the actor's death. Was he murdered by a jealous rival? Are the recently arrived and unpopular immigrant workers somehow involved? Or is it a punishment from God for the villagers' arrogance in trying to schedule the play four years earlier than prescribed by ancient custom? Once again, it looks like it is up to the Kuisls to unravel the mystery and bring a town's dark secrets to light.
Publisher: Boston : Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.
Edition: First Mariner Books edition.
ISBN: 9781328662088
Branch Call Number: FIC Potzs
Characteristics: xvi, 493 pages ; 21 cm.


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PimaLib_ChristineR Sep 22, 2018

5⭐ Potzsch does it again. A return to form after the somewhat disappointing Werewolf entry in the Hangman's Daughter series. A few years have passed and Jakob is finding solace in drink while his daughter Barbara dreams of being able to escape her label as a hangman's daughter.

Jakob and his son-in-law wind up up the valley in Oberammergau investigating the death by crucifixion of the lead actor in the passion play that the town is performing ahead of schedule, in order to make money for the town coffers.

Potzsch does a terrific job with the mystery and the historical pieces are woven in deftly and make for a believable set of circumstance. The towns along the Ammer River no longer see the trade traffic they used to. And a primarily feudal agrarian society, at least in this location, is giving way to a middle class of artisans, physicians, and self-made traders. To say more would give the plot away.

The author also takes on the growing xenophobia of our time, offering in his afterword a warning on the prior outcome of the cry "the valley is full" following the Thirty Years' War.

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