For anyone who likes sheep or likes an amusing twist to their mystery novel, Leonie Swann’s Three Bags Full will hit the mark. From the first page, when a flock of sheep find their shepherd dead, Swann puts us into the mindset of sheep. Maple takes the lead as the flock ferrets out the person who killed their shepherd.
I’ve had the pleasure of spending time on a sheep farm, where one quickly sees that sheep are not necessarily ‘sheepish’. They have various personalities, quirks and foibles, similar to humans. Do they communicate so clearly? I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask the shepherds. Swan certainly takes liberties with how much a sheep can do. Sheep dreams may not be as insightful as Maple’s. But Swann includes enough truth to ground the sheeps’ antics and bring their perspectives to life for us.
Three Bags Full Twists our Perception
The sheep’s interpretations of human events brings levity to the morose Irish village portrayed. Some readers may be startled by Swann’s irreverent associations of God and the church, such as the garden with nice long rows where humans don’t grow anything but ‘they plant dead bodies’. The sheeps’ misunderstandings of who God is and where he lives are also amusing.
The flock make themselves at home in their Irish village, as did I by the end of the story. And I wish them well on their next adventure, which Swann continues with book two, Garou, of the Three Bags Full series.
A list of sheep on the cover with their unique character traits helps the reader track one sheep from another. Maple, Othelo, Cloud, Ritchfield, Mopple and more. You’re sure to be entertained getting to know them. The mystery is particularly fun for anyone who knows sheep or loves the idea of the quaint Irish village.Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann, Anthea Bell
Series: Sheep Detective Series #1
Published by Doubleday Canada on June 5th 2007
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, a flock of sheep gathers around their shepherd, George, whose body lies pinned to the ground with a spade. George has cared devotedly for the flock, even reading them books every night. 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, wild metaphysical speculations, and embark on reconnaissance missions into the village, where they encounter some likely suspects. Along the way, the sheep confront their own all-too-human struggles with guilt, misdeeds, and unrequited love. Funny, fresh, and endearing, it introduces a wonderful new breed of detectives to Canadian readers.