Top critical review
Interesting Story, Incredibly Misleading Title
Reviewed in the United States on March 11, 2017
I liked the start of this story, the basic idea of the tale, a hangman searching for the truth. I enjoy historical novels. I enjoy mysteries. The start of this story was interesting and well thought out. My main problem with this novel? What does the hangman's daughter have to do with this story? Sure, the hangman has a daughter. She's in this story as a minor character. The title of this story suggests this daughter has a major role, but quite frankly she doesn't. In fact, the hangman's daughter is such a minor character, she could be removed completely from the story and the novel would be virtually the same. The daughter could be replaced with a potted plant without much difference.
This book isn't about the hangman's daughter, it's a mystery novel starring a hangman and a young doctor sidekick, both male characters. So what's the deal with naming this story The Hangman's Daughter? Since she's thrown in almost as an afterthought, I can only guess she's there so women will buy this book. She has a scene towards the end of the book where she's captured as a hostage, but it's so forced and unnecessary, it's more like a "women in refrigerators" moment. In fact, ALL of the minor female characters are put in danger. Why? So they can be rescued? In the meantime, if you're a minor character living in this historical world, it seems like your only purpose is to be to chased, tortured, threatened with rape, or face being burnt alive as a witch. Yes, the hangman's daughter manages to escape, but the scene adds nothing to the novel. In fact, if the scene were removed, the writing would have been tighter. The core of the story is a murder mystery. Who is killing the orphans of the village and why? There's already one woman, falsely accused and in danger, held in the prison. Why torture another woman? The second woman, the hangman's daughter, captured and threatened, was an unnecessary cliché. Negative one star for false advertising. If you're going to label a book, The Hangman's Daughter, then let the book be about the hangman's daughter.
The ending of this story was sloppy and confusing. The last third of the book had tangents that didn't go along with the core of the story. Did something get lost during editing? Instead of tying up loose ends, there's more drama, then everything is miraculously solved behind the scenes. The end. I'm not going to lie, considering the quality of the writing, I was disappointed that the ending wasn't better. The author had a great idea. It's obvious he's a talented writer. He just couldn't seem to pull it all together. Too much "pantsing," not enough plotting at the end of the book. The characters reacted in a realistic way in the beginning, not so much by the end of the novel. I reluctantly removed another star.
This isn't a bad book, it's just misleading. Title it The Hangman or something else, and I'd like it better. I wouldn't have been looking for the story that wasn't there. Clarify the ending a little more and this would be a five star book. I'd say this book is written for adults. The female characters could be replaced with potted plants, so I can't see myself recommending it to any of the women in my life. Guys might like it more. The main character was interesting and fun. I wanted to like this book more than I did.