This is the second in The Hangman’s Daughter series. We start out with a priest discovering he has been poisoned, taking a strange secret with him to the grave. His sister, a wealthy merchant named Benedicta, arrives to investigate, and enlists the help of Jakob Kuisl, his daughter Magdalena, and physician’s son Simon. They stumble onto a series of riddles involving the Knight Templars and a fantastic treasure, all the while being shadowed by a dangerous group and worrying over a band of raiders attacking people in the forest.
In many ways, this was better than the first. The mystery was a bit more straightforward (indeed, it felt like a better-written Dan Brown novel), the characters were better realized, and the danger was still quite present. Magdalena began living up to her reputation and accomplished quite a bit, and without help no less. Benedicta was an excellent and intriguing addition, but my enthusiasm for this new character was dampened when I realized she was mainly being used as a way to stick poor Simon into a love triangle. That, in fact, was the most tedious part.
The descriptions were quite vivid and once again gave a very real sense of Germany in the 1600’s. Despite the tedious parts, I would definitely put this one on my re-read list.