Title: The Dark Monk
Author: Oliver Potzsch
Narrator: Grover Garland
Length: 15 hours
Published in: 2009 (book, in German); 2012 (English translation)
Genre: historical fiction
Source: borrowed from library
Reason for Reading: Last year, I listened to The Hangman’s Daughter on audio. When I saw this on the new release shelf at the library, I decided to see how it was.
1660: Winter has settled thick over a sleepy village in the Bavarian Alps, ensuring that every farmer and servant is indoors the night a parish priest discovers he’s been poisoned. As numbness creeps up his body, he summons the last of his strength to scratch a cryptic sign in the frost.
Following a trail of riddles, hangman Jakob Kuisl, his headstrong daughter Magdalena, and the town physician’s son team up with the priest’s aristocratic sister to investigate. What they uncover will lead them back to the Crusades, unlocking a troubled history of internal church politics and sending them on a chase for a treasure of the Knights Templar.
But they’re not the only ones after the legendary fortune. A team of dangerous and mysterious monks is always close behind, tracking their every move, speaking Latin in the shadows, giving off a strange, intoxicating scent. And to throw the hangman off their trail, they have made sure he is tasked with capturing a band of thieves roving the countryside, attacking solitary travelers and spreading panic.
Delivering on the promise of the international bestseller The Hangman’s Daughter, Oliver Potzsch takes us on a whirlwind tour through the occult hiding places of Bavaria’s ancient monasteries. Once again based on prodigious historical research into Potzsch’s family tree, The Dark Monk brings to life an unforgettable, compassionate hangman and his tenacious daughter, painting a robust tableau of a seventeenth-century Bavaria and quickening our pulses with a gripping, mesmerizing mystery.
My Thoughts: I rather liked this book, just as I did it’s predecessor. (I’ve put in my request for The Beggar King from my library, so hopefully I’ll be able to read that soon!) It was easier for me to picture this book than the first one, but I can’t say there’s any reason for that. At one point, there were two or three different plot lines going on in this story, which confused me a little. With a few seconds pause in the narration, I’d be reading about Magdalena instead of the hangman or Simon & Benedicta. But he different characters’ stories all ended up together, as I assumed they would. There were some surprises in the book, at least to me. I don’t think too much when I’m reading a book, not usually looking for any sort of clues or trying to figure out what’s going to happen next. Unless the nature of the story is mystery, that is. This was more of an adventure than the first in the “series”, involving the Templars. (It seems so many novels have something about the Templars and/or the Masons if they involve religion or history…not that I mind.) I’m really looking forward to the next Hangman’s Daughter tale (The Beggar King).