Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story by Leonie Swann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A witty philosophical murder mystery with a charming twist: the crack detectives are sheep determined to discover who killed their beloved shepherd.
On a hillside near the cozy Irish village of Glennkill, the members of the flock gather around their shepherd, George, whose body lies pinned to the ground with a spade. George has cared for the sheep, reading them a plethora of books every night. The daily exposure to literature has made them far savvier about the workings of the human mind than your average sheep. Led by Miss Maple, the smartest sheep in Glennkill (and possibly the world), they set out to find George’s killer.
The A-team of investigators includes Othello, the “bad-boy” black ram; Mopple the Whale, a merino who eats a lot and remembers everything; and Zora, a pensive black-faced ewe with a weakness for abysses. Joined by other members of the richly talented flock, they engage in nightlong discussions about the crime and wild metaphysical speculations, and they embark on reconnaissance missions into the village, where they encounter some likely suspects. There’s Ham, the terrifying butcher; Rebecca, a village newcomer with a secret and a scheme; Gabriel, the shady shepherd of a very odd flock; and Father Will, a sinister priest. Along the way, the sheep confront their own all-too-human struggles with guilt, misdeeds, and unrequited love.
Three Bags Full is already an international hit. “It’s rather as if Agatha Christie had re-written The Wind in the Willows, and I ended by loving it, ”Jane Jakeman wrote in The Independent. Funny, fresh, and endearing, it introduces a wonderful breed of detectives to American readers.
This book was definitely outside the norm of what I typically read. I love mysteries, but never read books that have animals as the main characters personifying humans, so this was new for me. While I enjoyed the story, I can't say what kept me reading exactly. I enjoyed reading about the personalities of the sheep as they attempted to, in their own way, solve the murder of their shepherd. I enjoyed trying to figure out the mystery, and had fun trying to keep up with the way that the sheep viewed human activities. As a mystery I would not give the book very high ratings, but for it's interesting take on how sheep view the world it is worth the read.
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