Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story Paperback – 3 Jun 2008
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PRAISE FOR THREE BAGS FULL
The Internationally Bestselling Novel of Crime-Busting Sheep
"Sheep make great detectives. I loved this book."
--Robert B. Parker
"Refreshingly, joyously different."
"Moments of High Comedy come thick and fast....This entertaining, lighthearted mystery is told from a refreshingly novel perspective."
""Genuinely odd and affecting...The best sheep detective novel you'll read all year."
About the Author
LEONIE SWANN earned degrees in philosophy, psychology, and communications from Munich University and has worked in journalism and public relations. Currently working on her doctorate in English literature, she lives in Berlin
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Top Customer Reviews
One morning, the sheep get out of the shelter where they always sleep, when they discover their shepherd George lying on the wet grass of Glennkill, dead, with a shovel still sticking in his chest. Due to the fact that George used to read out detective stories to them, they know what to do, especially Miss Maple and Mopple the Whale. The detailed description of Miss Maple as the cleverest sheep of the flock, maybe of Glennkill and possibly in the whole world is definitely a perfect copy of the cunning movie detective Miss Marple. Mopple the Whale is "the memory sheep", Miss Maple tells him everything and he remembers it. Mopple is also the most hoggish sheep of the flock, he's always the first sheep to get hungry. This flock of sheep is very special, they even create a little garden which none of the sheep shall ever touch at the place where the most delicious herbs grow and they call it "George's place". Once they even have to defend this place against another flock of sheep.
The highly witty descriptions, for example, of sheep jiggling their ears because of excitement or fear make the book very funny and exciting at the same time. Every time a sheep jiggles its ears, you know that something is going to happen.
The author of this book, Leonie Swann, was born in 1975 in Dachau, Germany. Her first novel "Three bags full - A sheep detective story" was published in 2005 and it was originally written in German.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Things kick off with the shepherd dead in his field with a spade through his heart. It's certainly amusing to watch the sheep try and understand the reactions of the various humans who discover the body and the reactions the killing provokes amongst the townspeople. In homage to their beloved master and inspired by a detective story he read to them, they vow to see justice done (even if they are somewhat hazy on what that means). The sheep are greatly handicapped by their limited exposure to human affairs, not to mention generally poor memories and short attention spans. However, this is somewhat balanced by their noses, which can scent lies, fear, and other human qualities. Led by the inquisitive ewe Miss Maple (that's Ms. Marple, in case you missed it...), they are soon skulking around the village, peering in windows, and eavesdropping left and right.
The book runs into a little bit of trouble in its need to maintain the sheep's perspective on events -- which makes things somewhat more oblique and drawn out than might be ideal. The central story is also sidetracked somewhat when the long-lost brother of the flock's lead ram mysteriously reappears and starts making all manner of enigmatic statements. But it's all generally entertaining enough to maintain the reader's interest until the end. Some may get added enjoyment from trying to spot the various literary allusions (such as Wuthering Heights, and gothic horror Melmoth the Wanderer), but on the whole, one's enjoyment is probably proportional to how interesting one finds the basic conceit of sheep as amateur sleuths.
The best part is how human behavior is interpreted from the sheep perspective. Through the course of their investigation they make some revelations of humans and their motivations that are both sheepy and accurate. Despite the mystery, the book is very relaxing and fun. A perfect choice for readers who love quirky stories from alternate perspectives.
Though the flock agrees that George wasn't the best shepherd in the world, he wasn't all that bad, and he was theirs. When his body is found lying in their meadow with a spade stuck through it, they decide they need justice. Working together with their variety of skills, the sheep decide to investigate George's murder themselves. Their suspects include the local butcher, the vicar (amusingly referred to as God by the sheep, as he occupies God's house), George's estranged wife, a neighbor named Beth who was always trying to save his soul, and another shepherd named Gabriel whom the sheep look up to at first, until they find out some very unpleasant things about him. The author did a fine job with the sheep's often warped comprehension of human conversations and actions, as well as creating very amusing interplay among the sheep. It was also a lot of fun watching the reactions of the human characters when they realized that George's sheep were no ordinary flock.
The pace is a bit slow for the first half of the book, and I was a bit disappointed by the outcome of the murder mystery aspect, but overall, it was a very enjoyable, highly creative book. There were several spots where I laughed out loud, and the author did a wonderful job in crafting the personalities of sheep. For a fun, quirky mystery tale quite different from the norm, this book is a winner.
Delightfully literal insights abound here, as the text is told from the viewpoint of the sheep. For example, they misunderstand an early conversation among the humans; and from that point on, they think the local minister's name is "God." Though the book bogs down about three-quarters of the way through, another reviewer was right on the mark by saying that the text meanders just like its main characters do. The denouement at the Mad Boar paints a scene of the senses that can only be imagined and laughed at.
This is a magnificent first novel for this German author, and the English translation seems to do justice to the original text, as it is never clumsy or stilted. An extra bonus appears at the bottom corner of the right-hand pages, where a hand-drawn sheep is seen in various poses. Handle this like a children's flip book, and you'll see the sheep leaping in animation as you go. What a lovely and playful touch!
It's genuinely fun and funny, yet also a serious mystery, one of the best I've read in years.
Were it not for a couple hints of sex and drugs (but nothing that should get worse than a PG-13 rating) and some other serious subjects, I'd say: Get this to Pixar at once.