Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday 56: The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne

 Welcome to this week's Friday 56 - this Friday 56 comes from Lisa Ballentyne's The Guilty One.

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56 or 56% on your e-reader/
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions 
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Freda's Voice at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Here's my Friday 56 from The Guilty One:

"She was wearing his necklace. He couldn't believe it. She took it off and handed it to Daniel, then put the butterfly in her pocket."

The blurb:
An eight-year-old boy is found dead on a playground. . .  and his eleven-year-old neighbor is accused of the crime.  Leading the defense is London solicitor Daniel Hunter, a champion of lost causes.  
A damaged boy from a troubled home, Daniel's young client, Sebastian, reminds Daniel of his own turbulent childhood - and of Minnie, the devoted woman whose love saved him.  But one terrible act of betrayal irrevocably shattered their bond.
As past and present collide, Daniel is faced with disturbing questions.  Will his sympathy for Sebastian and his own memories blind him to the truth?  What happened in the park - and who, ultimately, is to blame for a little boy's death? Rethinking everything he's ever believed, Daniel begins to understand what it means to be wrong. . . and to be the guilty one.
About the Author:
Lisa Ballantyne lives in Glasgow, Scotland. This is her first novel.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Beggar King: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Potzsch

The blurb:

1662: Jakob Kuisl, the hangman of a village in the Alps, 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 will face firsthand the torture he's administered himself for years unless he can prevail on a fellow executioner for mercy.

When his steely daughter, Magdelena, and a young doctor, Simon, follow him to Regensburg, they enlist an underground network of beggars, a beer-brewing monk, and an Italian playboy - navigating the labyrinthine city to learn there is much more behind the false accusation than a personal vendetta: there is a plan that will endanger the entire German Empire.


Oliver Potzsch's The Beggar King takes us to Germany in 1662, a period that I wasn't very familiar with.  The 1600s are a time of upheaval in the German Empire and in Europe.  With the Thirty Years Wars, mercenaries had overrun many of the villages and we encounter the effects of this war throughout the novel.  It becomes clear early on that the class system is deeply entrenched and that the Kuisls, as a family of hangmen, are very low on the social ladder. This means that it is nearly impossible for the hangman's daughter Magdelena to marry the young doctor Simon, her sweetheart, in their hometown.  It also means that our hero, Jakob Kuisl, is careful not to disclose his identity when he travels to Regensburg to visit his ailing sister.

Magdalena and Simon leave their town with the hope of starting anew in Regensburg. When they discover that Jakob has been arrested and is accused of murder, the young couple decide to look for who might have been behind the killings in order to free Jakob.  Their sleuthing is limited to their social network in the imperial city.  As Magdalena and Simon travel with the beggars, the boat masters, and a Venetian ambassador, the novel takes us to unpredictable plot twists and unusual places.  Oliver Potzsch delivers an engrossing mystery set in a unique setting.  I found the historical and cultural details particularly fascinating - they added another level of complexity to The Beggar King. 

ISBN-10: 054799219X - Paperback $18.00
Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (January 8, 2013), 512 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher and the Amazon Prime Reviewers program.

About the Author:
Oliver Potzsch, born in 1970, was for years a radio personality for Bavarian radio and a screenwriter for Bavarian public television.  He is himself a descendant of the Kuisls, a well-known line of Bavarian executioners that inspired the novel.