Saturday, April 06, 2013

Beggar King - Historical Fiction

I am on page 362 of The Beggar King, The Hangman's Daughter series by Oliver Potzsch, almost at the end, and I am still not sure I understand who the bad guys are in this story.  The setting is the 17th century Bavarian town of Regensberg. There is conspiracy after conspiracy, treachery after treachery in this story.  All the minor characters seem not to be who they say they are.  So far, they all seem very shady: the Beggar King, the Venice Ambassador; The Raftmaster; the patricians of the city; the dead bath house owners, Kuisl's sister and brother-in-law; and even Kuisl's wife seems to have some secret past. 

Hangman Jakob Kuisl has been targeted, tricked into leaving Schongau for Regensberg so that he could be accused of  murder in that town.  The leaders in the city seem to have conspired together to accuse him.  Kuisl got a taste of the brutal punishment that he himself has imposed on others in his role as Hangman.  His chief tormentor who wants the punishment to be more and more severe is a voice from his past, which he can not remember fully, and a leader in the city.  The feisty hangman's daughter, Magdalena, and her paramour, Simon, just happened to have run off to Regensberg to start a new life together when they find themselves having to find evidence that Kuisl is innocent.  Then they have to go into hiding after being accused of arson. In the meantime some prostitutes are disappearing and turning up dead. How their deaths connect with Kuisl, I do not know at this point.

I am not as excited about this story as I was with the other two in the series. Too many things are going on in this story.  Who committed the murders and why?  How do the politics and church issues relate to the murders? What is up with this great war in the past?  Who is killing the prostitutes and how does that connect to the main story? What was the mystery powder found at the scene of the murder? So many aspects to this one story.  I was the one who recommended the first book in the series to my book club and we loved it.

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