Sunday, December 12, 2010
Three Bags Full
The world of detective fiction is a mental health half way house waiting to happen. It is a hotbed of psychological scars, neurosis, personality disorders, paranoia, grief, anger and all manner of antisocial behavior. Well the troubled gumshoes can all step aside. They need to make room for a new breed. A precinct made up of wool making, grass chewing, formerly lamb chop filled investigators created by Leonie Swann in Three Bags Full.
Led by Miss Maple, the smartest sheep in the world, the flock of the late George Glenn are on the case. George, their beloved shepherd has been murdered. A shovel through his shoulder and a suspicious hoof print on his chest. George had taken very good care of them and they will not allow his murder to go unpunished.
However there are a few disadvantages to be a sheep/sleuth. The biggest of which is the language barrier. Luckily for us the sheep were able to learn English because George had sung and read aloud to them. George liked romantic fiction that always seemed to be about red-heads named Pamela but his limited tastes were enough for the sheep to get an understanding of English (Alas they can't speak the language) and human nature. Being bilingual and determined the flock turn their attention to solving George's murder.
How did Leonie Swann come up with this wonderfully inventive book? I would never have in a million years thought that I who have zero interest in anything to do with animals (Yup. Puppies? I am untouched by the alleged cuteness.) would adore a squad of crime solving sheep. Other than the whole Sherlock sheep thing happening, Swann makes the whole affair realistic. There is an actual mystery, viable suspects and the crime is solved by solid police work, so to speak, but how to tell the humans who done it? The answer comes in a talent contest and amateur dramatics.
Swann packs Three Bags Full with clever literary illusions, dark humor and terrific characterizations--if that's the right word to describe a cast of sheep. You may not be aware of it but the word delightful was invented to describe this mystery novel. True. I have the lab work to prove it.
P.S. That cover? Perfection!