Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review: Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story by Leonie Swann

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: A Sheep Detective Story was definitely interesting. There are very few books I have read written from the animals' point of view.

When I first picked up this book, I was pretty excited to start it. The beginning was great! I could not put it down for the first 50 pages give or take. Unfortunately after that, it was slow for me. Maybe I was just in a reading slump or something, but I found pages 50 to 200-something to be boring and even tedious at times. After I got through the middle, the rest of the book flew by again, and I liked the ending.

I found certain parts of Three Bags Full to be confusing at times. Maybe it was because you are seeing everything that happens through the sheep's point of view and their view of the world was obviously different than a person's view.

Another thing that was confusing was all of the sheep. Obviously a flock of sheep has many members, so when they all have different names and are talking, it was difficult to keep track of who was who. I was grateful for the list of the sheep characters in the front of the book. It helped me differentiate between the sheep, but it was still hard to keep track of them.

I did enjoy the few references to Wuthering Heights since I absolutely love that book. It was kind of interesting to see the sheep's take on the story. Overall, I guess this book was not for me. I thought the overall story was clever, but the way is was projected was confusing.

Rating: 2/5

Swords are for fighting,


  1. I'm always interested in reading reviews that have low ratings. I tend to be a pretty harsh critic with very few 5 star books, and am even working on reducing the number of 4s that I give to books because most of my 4s really aren't all that amazing.

    This review makes it clear that you're pretty realistic about your reviews, which makes me want to read more of your reviews, since I feel like I can trust them. Nicely done.

  2. Thanks Becki! I try to be as honest as I can.

  3. Sorry you didn't enjoy this- but the Wuthering Heights references sound cool :)