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 opportunities 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.
Absolutely loved it! I had thought I’d read the series to completion. I was thrilled to find there was another installment (and another on the way 5/29!).
There is something about the Kuisls that intrigues me. Life in the 1600s isn’t pretty. There’s always some violence in the books and many times I’ve wondered how anyone ever survived the era. However, Mr. Potzsch is such a phenomenal writer that he has taken a would-be villain and made him an endearing hero. Hangmen were never popular. They’re always seen as fearsome figures in black hoods. I’ve never heard of another writer who has portrayed them as they were- humans.
In this book, we have a fictional spin on a real town that really does the Passion reenactment every ten years. I love the history/fiction mix. There are also multiple storylines mixed as is customary for the series. Barbara takes a pivotal role this time. We’ve not read much about her and she’s joined by the Fronwieser children as central characters. It makes for an action-packed plot that never takes a breath.
Although the plot initially appears to be paranormal, it is not and readers will be thrilled once its ‘earthly’ explanations are revealed. In fact, you may, as I did, go back & forth in your head, deciding whether or not you know what is really going on. Fantastic!
It’s not a quick read, but it’s worth every page. I give it 5 stars and hope the series never ends.
*Synopsis belongs solely to the author/publisher.