I recently discovered this author’s works while checking out a book display at my local library. As someone who likes both murder mysteries and historical novels, I find this particular story to be well-written, gripping, informative, historically accurate and, above all, a creative use of time, space and the big idea. It is rare that an author in this genre is successful – Hilary Mandel comes to mind – in effectively combining a good plot with believable characters to produce an absolutely stunner of a story for the ages. The time is middle 17th century Bavaria; the place a backwater community that is about to hold its annual passion play; and its cast a motley crew of the wretched, the suspected and unredeemed. Imagine the local hangman and his family being at the heart of an evolving murder mystery in the midst of a most holy of occasions. Everything local, including ancient magic potions, will go into this literary cauldron, and out of it will distill a shocking but yet conceivable outcome. The locals don’t like their local executioner/enforcer from the getgo, but it will take extraordinary circumstances of high adventure to turn that around and to focus on the real reason for a vicious chain of murders: intercity mafia rivalry.