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About Oliver Pötzsch
He lives in Munich with his family.
Photo © Dominik Parzinger.
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A young man’s destined quest becomes a dance with the devil in a mesmerizing retelling of the Faust legend by the bestselling author of the Hangman’s Daughter series.
It’s the fifteenth century and only heretics are curious about the universe.
Germany, 1494. Born under a rare alignment of the stars, Johann Georg Gerlach, “the lucky one” to his mother—is fated for greatness. But Johann’s studies and wonder at the sky have made him suspect. Especially in wake of the child disappearances that have left the God-fearing locals trembling and his one true love trapped in terrified catatonia. Her only words: “I have seen the devil…”
Banished from Knittlingen as cursed, Johann crosses paths with Tonio del Moravia. The traveling fortune-teller and master of the arcane arts recognizes something extraordinary in the wanderer. Taking Johann under his wing, Tonio promises a new world of knowledge and sensations. But with it comes a sinister web of deception and a chilling prophecy.
The stars are set to align again. Now Johann must draw on the skills of his apprenticeship to solve the dark mystery that grips his village in fear and the deepening mystery of his own destiny.
A showman’s fate is in the hands of the devil in an enthralling novel inspired by the Faust legend from the bestselling author of the Hangman’s Daughter series.
Rome, 1518. The church is tarnished by greed. Peasants are rebelling. Tumultuous times demand drastic recourse—before the devil gets his due.
Johann Faust is a renowned magician, astrologer, and chiromancer traveling through Germany with his successful troupe: the orphaned juggler Greta and his loyal companion Karl. The avaricious Pope Leo X now requires Johann’s services to replenish the papacy’s drained coffers through alchemy. But the devil, with whom a regretful Johann once agreed to an unholy trade for fame, wants something else. Racked with paralyzing seizures, Johann fears that his debt is nearer to being settled.
In France, Johann hopes for answers from an eminent new friend who could hold the key to his torment, body, and soul. For the celebrated artist, inventor, and anatomist Leonard da Vinci is suffering from the same accursed malady. Time is not on his side either.
Now they all must outrun the devil, and the more human threats of the papal henchmen, before Johann is dragged straight to hell—along with everyone he holds dear.
The Council of Twelve is the seventh book in Hangman’s Daughter, the million-copy bestselling series.
The year is 1672. Hangman Jakob Kuisl and his family travel to Munich, the cosmopolitan heart of Bavaria, for a meeting of the prestigious Council of Twelve, the leaders of the empire’s hangmen’s guild—prestigious for dishonorable hangmen, at least. But something dark is happening behind the scenes: in the past weeks, young women have begun turning up dead. At first, the authorities assume they are a rash of suicides, but when Kuisl notices that each woman possesses a matching amulet, suspicions arise that someone is murdering them. With no suspects, the superstitious townsfolk of Munich blame the hangmen’s guild, certain that they have called the devil upon the city. Joined by his daughter Magdalena, son-in-law Simon, the rest of his extended family, and a slew of eccentric hangmen, Kuisl must solve the mystery of who is murdering the women. If he fails, the consequences could reverberate across the empire, affecting all the hangmen in Germany.
In 1524, in what is now Germany, hundreds of thousands of peasants revolted against the harsh treatment of their aristocratic overlords. Agnes is the daughter of one of these overlords, but she is not a typical sixteenth-century girl, refusing to wear dresses and spending more time with her pet falcon than potential suitors. There is only one suitor she is interested in: Mathis, a childhood friend whom she can never marry due to his low birth status.
In the midst of war, Agnes’s falcon finds a mysterious ring, and Agnes begins having strange but seemingly meaningful dreams. Dreams that lead her and Mathis to run away from their home in Trifels Castle and into the midst of the tumultuous Peasants’ War, cast into an adventure that will lead them to shocking revelations about themselves and the future of the emerging German states.
“The war scenes are grimly realistic, and the narration gripping . . . The author makes the fantastical elements work by harnessing them to the grim reality of the Peasants’ War, setting his far-fetched romance in an utterly convincing world of economic hardship, social strife and religious and political uncertainty.” — Wall Street Journal
Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at
play in his small Bavarian town. Whispers and dark memories of witch trials and the women burned at the stake just seventy years earlier still haunt the streets of Schongau. When more children disappear and an orphan boy is found dead—marked by the same tattoo—the mounting hysteria threatens to erupt into chaos.
Before the unrest forces him to torture and execute the very woman who aided in the birth of his children, Jakob must unravel the truth. With the help of his clever daughter, Magdelena, and Simon, the university-educated son of the town’s physician, Jakob discovers that a devil is indeed loose in Schongau. But it may be too late to prevent bloodshed.
A brilliantly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller, The Hangman’s Daughter is the first novel from German television screenwriter Oliver Pötzsch, a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.
Note: This book contains images that some readers may find disturbing.
The Play of Death is the sixth book in Hangman’s Daughter, the million-copy bestselling series.
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.
The Dark Monk is the second book in Hangman’s Daughter, the million-copy bestselling series.
1660: Winter has settled thick over a sleepy village in the Bavarian Alps, ensuring every farmer and servant is indoors on 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 ensured 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 Pötzsch takes us on a whirlwind tour through the occult hiding places of Bavaria’s ancient monasteries. Once again based on prodigious historical research into Pötzsch’s family tree, The Dark Monk brings to life an unforgettable, compassionate hangman and his tenacious daughter, painting a robust tableau of seventeenth-century Bavaria and quickening our pulses with a gripping, mesmerizing mystery.
The Beggar King is the third book in Hangman’s Daughter, the million-copy bestselling series.
The year is 1662. Alpine village hangman Jakob Kuisl receives a letter from his sister calling him to the imperial city of Regensburg, where a gruesome sight awaits him: her throat has been slit. Arrested and framed for the murder, Kuisl faces firsthand the torture he’s administered himself for years.
Jakob’s daughter, Magdalena, and a young medicus named Simon hasten to his aid. With the help of an underground network of beggars, a beer-brewing monk, and an Italian playboy, they discover that behind the false accusation is a plan that will endanger the entire German Empire.
Chock-full of historical detail, The Beggar King brings to vibrant life another tale of the unlikely hangman and his tough-as-nails daughter, confirming Pötzsch's mettle as a writer to watch.
A harsh winter is coming. With it, a dark and pitiless magic…
Lukas wants only two things: to rebuild his castle home in time to make it through the coming winter and to reconnect with the sister who was stolen from him in a plot against his family.
But then an astrologer appears with foreboding news: his old adversary, Inquisitor Waldemar von Schönborn, has stolen three royal artifacts, which are required to coronate a new German emperor. With these valuable objects—the sword, the crown, and the scepter—he could blackmail the empire. The treasures are currently hidden in three different places in the old imperial city of Prague.
To protect his homeland and help him find the artifacts, Lukas will need his three best friends—all members of the elite fighting group known as the Black Musketeers. He’ll also need his feisty little sister, Elsa, whose magical gifts may be the key to stopping the inquisitor’s latest scheme.
They head for Prague immediately, but the adventure that awaits them there will put their courage and their friendship to the ultimate test.
The Werewolf of Bamberg is the fifth book in Hangman’s Daughter, the million-copy bestselling series.
In 1668, hangman Jakob Kuisl, his daughter Magdalena, and her husband Simon travel to the town of Bamberg. But what was planned as a family vacation soon becomes a nightmare: a murderer in Bamberg is leaving the severed limbs of victims in the trash outside the city. When rumors quickly spread that the deaths are the work of a werewolf, Jakob must prove the superstition wrong and embarks on a search for the “devil of Bamberg.”
In this thrilling adventure by bestselling author Oliver Pötzsch, thirteen-year-old Lukas has been trained as a swordsman by his father, a nobleman who was once a famed Musketeer. When the threat of war and accusations of witchcraft spread across the land, Lukas’s life is forever changed. He flees his home and vows to find his missing sister.
Surviving as an outcast, Lukas encounters thieves and mercenaries, a strange astrologer, and a master swordsman. He also meets three other fencers—Giovanni, Paulus, and Jerome. Each brings a special talent to their team that leads them to the Black Musketeers, the best fighters in the army. But living with the black-armored Musketeers is nothing like they imagined. In his quest to find his sister, Lukas learns of a legendary book that holds powerful magic. As he fights to keep the Book of the Night out of the hands of his greatest enemy, Lukas discovers the secrets of his own family and what it really means to be a Musketeer.
The Poisoned Pilgrim is the fourth book in Hangman’s Daughter, the million-copy bestselling series.
1666: The monastery at Andechs has long been a pilgrimage destination, but when the hangman’s daughter, Magdalena, her doctor husband Simon, and their two small children arrive there, they learn that the monks have far larger concerns than saying Mass and receiving alms. It seems that once again, the hangman’s family has fallen into a mysterious and dangerous adventure.
Two monks at the monastery experiment with cutting-edge technology, including a method of deflecting the lighting that has previously set the monastery ablaze. When one of the monks disappears and his lab is destroyed, foul play is suspected. Who better to investigate than the famed hangman Jakob Kuisl? But as the hangman and his family attempt to solve the mystery of the missing monk, they must deal with both the eccentric denizens of the monastery and villagers who view the monks’ inventions as witchcraft that must be destroyed at all costs.