Thursday, February 03, 2011

Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story

George is a good shepherd. Not a great one, according to his sheep, but good. Raising them only for wool, he seemed to really care for his flock, giving them names like Othello, Miss Maple, and Mopple the Whale (Mopple was quite large), and reading to them from books of all genres.

The sheep liked the romance novels - the ones where the heroines all seemed to be named "Pamela" - but it was the detective stories they really loved.

The detective stories were gritty and real, and followed a distinct pattern. These were the stories that really came in handy the day they discovered George lying on his back in the meadow, an old spade stuck in his torso.

Set in the quaint Irish village of Glennkill, Three Bags Full follows George's flock as they attempt to solve the murder of their shepherd.

There are obstacles, of course, including the attempted murder of other townspeople, visitor to town, and the reappearance of one thought long, long gone.

What a fun, clever read! The sheep are amazingly worldly, due to George's stories and life lessons, but hilariously clueless on humans and the human condition.

What makes this book almost impossible to put down is that the plot doesn't race along at breakneck speed. It simply can't. George's sheep aren't humans, so they don't think like humans, and this is one of the things that I appreciated the most about Leonie Swann's novel. The sheep didn't immediately understand why humans did what they did, why George was put in a box in the ground, and who this "God" person was.

Swann weaves a tale of intense small-town corruption - a town with no secrets, where everyone knows everyone else's business, and the slightest bit of gossip can ignite into the largest scandal.

I adored this book and absolutely fell in love with its woolly, inquisitive characters.


mim said...

I found a copy of this book at my swimming pool and am reading it now. It's delightful!

Heather said...

mim - Delightful is a great word for this book. It's just so different!