I finished reading this book recently and found it a thoroughly enjoyable read. Of course, I love historical fiction.
According to the back leaf of the book, the author Oliver Putzsch is descended from a famous family of executioners. The book was translated from German by Lee Chadeayne. I think the translator did a good job changing the text from German to English.
The story is about a series of mysterious events which create dread in the people of Schongau. The fear began with the retrieval of a young orphan boy from the frigid river who had many unexplained injuries and a crudely drawn tattoo on his body. It isn't long before the townspeople decide that there is a witch in the town causing all sorts of calamities. The dead lad and the other town orphans often hung around the local midwife and healer who was often thought to be a witch. Putting two and two together with a great deal of imagination it is determined that the midwife must be the murderer. Because she must be a witch and a murderer, she is arrested. It is the job of the hangman to torture her until she admits she is a witch.
The hangman, Jakob Kuisl, believes the midwife is innocent and finds ways to delay her torture and allow him and the doctor's son (who is in love with the hangman's daughter) to try and uncover the true murder. The plot twists and turns and it isn't until the very end that the true villain is revealed.
An excellent read especially if you love historical fiction or mystery books.