Town executioner, Jakob Kuisl, must torture a woman he believes is innocent of the crime with which she is charged, force a confession, then burn her at the stake. Under pressure from the town, he struggles with his conscience, and tries to delay the process while he hunts for the truth.
The town suffered a terrible witch hunt in the past and will sacrifice one innocent life to prevent the repeat of countless executions. Everyone except the town’s executioner.
Five children seem to be the key to the mystery, and someone is determined to silence them. Kuisl must find out what they know in order to save the life of the woman he believes is innocent, and before they are silenced forever.
Kuisl and his family are outcasts in the town, a result of his profession, and his determination to find the truth increases the town people’s dislike and distrust of him. Kuisl himself gets through each execution by getting drunk the night before, which makes him more human and endearing (for someone who kills for a living).
This is a dark tale of mistrust and murder. I enjoyed all of the characters. The twists throughout kept me guessing. Recommended.