Saturday, February 21, 2009

Review-- Three Bags Full

Title: Three Bags Full, A Sheep Detective Story
Author: Leonie Swann
Translator: Anthea Bell
ISBN: 9780767927055/ Flying Dolphin Press, 2006
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B

First Line: "He was healthy yesterday," said Maude. Her ears twitched nervously.

George has always treated his sheep more like humans than animals. He reads to them every day, he talks to them, he makes sure they're healthy and have plenty of the best fodder and grazing. It's no wonder that his flock is upset when they find him murdered out in the field. What you may find surprising is that they vow to find George's killer.

Led by Miss Maple (the cleverest sheep in all of Glennkill, Ireland), the sheep find clues and try their best to make sense of the humans around them. The entire flock of sheepy characters have to learn to work together, and to summon all their courage, in order to find justice.

This is probably a good time to inform all of you that I normally do not like talking animal books. (At least not since I was five or six!) I have to make an exception for this one. It had me thinking, smiling and chuckling as I turned the pages.

The book begins with a cast of characters, listing each sheep by name and its characteristics, but after that initial glance, I never referred to it. Swann makes each sheep an easily remembered individual. The investigation wanders a bit from time to time, but there are flashes of brilliance in an often humorous tale. This debut by German author Leonie Swann marks her as a writer to watch.

If you've read and/or reviewed Three Bags Full, I'd love to hear your opinion of it! Make sure to leave a link to your own review in the comments.

Edit: Joe Barone's review
Kerrie's review


  1. Perhaps I should consider buying this and reviewing it as "comic thriller".
    Like you, I usually prefer normal, mute animals, but this sounds quite good, and one needs a laugh now and then.

  2. I've heard :) good things about this book. It was a favorite on the Sounds Like a Mystery list last year or so. I haven't gotten to it yet.

  3. Okay, I do like talking animal books, so this one appeals to me. I also think the character of George sounds wonderful - anyone who reads to their animals is great in my book.

  4. Animal detectives are usually anathema to me, but contrary to my expectations I really liked 'Three Bags Full.' For one thing, the sheep really are sheepish. Miss Maple may be the cleverest sheep around but that isn't saying much and when the humans don't behave much more intelligently than the flock, well, it gets pretty funny. But I liked the -- what? fable, parable, what have you, that comes of the story at the end. I don't think I'd want to read a whole series about this flock, but I'd read another book by Leonie Swann.

  5. Dorte--I'd really be interested in your opinion of the book. I know that Karen (Euro Crime) will be reading it as well.

    Beth--I decided I needed something light and fluffy after Drood. It wasn't as fluffy as I thought it would be, but it was a welcome "palate cleanser".

    Kathy--If you like George now, you should read the book! LOL

    Corey--So far I think the only other book I found by Swann is another in this sheep series. Like you, I don't want to make a steady diet of lanoline-laced mysteries, but I would be interested in reading something Swann writes in another vein.

  6. I enjoyed this book at lot. It is just one of the unique kinds of books. Other "animal detective" books aren't anything like it, and the ones I've read don't hold a candle to it. It was just fund to read.

  7. Joe--That's one of the things I liked so much about the book: it was different. I had no trouble willingly suspending my disbelief. As I read, I pictured each sheep in my mind, each had a different voice...and picturing them trying to deal with the humans around them was a lot of fun. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  8. My review is at and contains a link to yours.


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