The first half of this book flies by very quickly and is very engaging. From the brief prologue showing Jakob as a child, to the introduction of his father, and then later his family, the author catches your attention and I was easily transported to mid-17th c Germany, imagining the daily lives of these people, the horrors of every day living, the fear of the unknown, etc. You feel so badly for the midwife in this story and, despite the hangman's kindness, I was left flummoxed at how there was no recompense for her suffering. It was a good mystery although I think you could kind of figure it out as you were reading if you paid attention (I knew who it was!). I am eager to read the next one...I hope the author expands on the relationship between the hangman, his daughter, and his daughter's would-be lover, the town doctor!