Three Bags Full
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Three Bags Full (Sheep Detective Story #1)

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  5,813 ratings  ·  1,114 reviews
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 o...more
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published (first published 2005)
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Mike
Mar 16, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone not fearful of appearing sheepish
Recommended to Mike by: Goodreads Group Literary Exploration
Three Bags Full: Leonie Swann's novel of Sheepish Detection

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My thanks to the group Literary Exploration. Without the group's selection of Three Bags Fullas our group read for March, 2012, I doubt I would have ever picked up this little gem, even though I had spotted it on the shelves of our local Barnes & Noble.

A detective novel where sheep are the detectives? The thought of it makes one feel a bit, well, sheepish.

However, Leonie Swann pulls off this woolly caper with style and flair. When...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
A wonderful, priceless book, full of wit and philosophical musings and profound observations.

One morning at the small village of Glennkill, Ireland, a small flock of sheep wake up to find that their shepherd, George Glenn, has been murdered. With a spade through his guts. Miss Maple, the cleverest sheep in Glennkill, decides they should investigate and find his murderer, because even though George was a bit of a peculiar and irrascible bastard, he was still their shepherd, and who would read "Pa...more
Lena
I never thought I would find myself commenting in a book review about how realistic the sheep characters seemed to be. But in Leonie Swann’s delightful murder mystery, I repeatedly found myself thinking “Yes! I bet that’s exactly what a sheep would think!” While these crime-fighting sheep are smart and understand English, they are still just so…sheepy that I had no trouble losing myself in their world. The author’s depiction of flock’s attempt to make sense of certain quirks of human behavior fr...more
Michael
It's a cute premise: a dead shepherd is discovered by his flock of sheep with a spade sticking out of his chest, and the sheep then set out to solve the mystery of the shepherd's murder. Fine. I have no problem with cute.

The problem with this book is that it's just not a very good mystery, despite the billing. The clues are often garbled in translation from human to sheep and back again, such that the reader loses a clear sense of what's actually happening. The clues we do have don't add up to m...more
Chrissie
I have to write a revised review. I have to exIplain more clearly why I really liked this book, beyond the fact that it still keeps me laughing even though I read it years ago!

I NEVER read mystery or crime novels. And yet I loved it! I never read fantasy books, and I loved it. Why? Well b/c the sheep are so wonderful. They are determined to find the murderer of their beloved Glen, whom they love b/c he was so sweet and caring to them. He read them stories..... every night. He taught them a lot....more
Sian Jones
Nov 24, 2007 Sian Jones rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: mystery
Read this book now! Stop whatever you are doing, turn off whatever's cooking on the stove, turn off the music you were just listening to, put down whatever lesser book you thought you'd read: go to a (locally owned/used) bookstore and buy this book. It's one of those books that if it had been written even the tiniest bit differently, the entire wondrous thing would have collapsed. But it's brilliant, it's just brilliant. It's like Watership Down meets Ruth Rendell, but with a higher percentage o...more
Marya
A shepherd is murdered and it's up to the flock to find out whodunnit. Lead by the intrepid Miss Maple, a delightful cast of sheep characters put their fluffy, fleece heads together to crack the case.

As a murder mystery, this book isn't that entertaining, but as a parody of the Miss Marple books, it is fantastic. Each sheep in the flock has a distinct character that gives it a unique ability to contribute to the case (these traits are listed in the front of the book with the character, just like...more
Marlene
This is something else. And something else is good.

Do you think sheep are stupid? Do you think all they do the whole day long is eating grass? Far from it!

When their sheepheard George is killed, his sheep decide to bring down the murderer together. After all George read a murder story for them once, so how hard could it be? So the sheep, as crime investigator number one the most intelligent sheep-lady of Ireland, called Miss Maple (hey, you know this name? I do!), start to investigate.
But this i...more
Laura
Jan 19, 2013 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Agnostics, atheists, vegetarians
Recommended to Laura by: Chrissie
3.5 stars. There were aspects I loved and aspects I could've done without here.

I think she did sheep POV very well. At times, it did make me laugh out loud, and I don't commonly laugh out loud easily. I have a weird sense of humor. This book could be very clever at times. I loved the sheep, and I felt that she very cleverly told the story from their point of view. I've never had a conversation with a sheep, lol, but this aspect felt very true to me.

Maybe I'm dense, but parts of this went right...more
Melki
Sheep, it turns out, have quite a bit in common with humans. We are both gossipy, superstitious, and prone to exaggeration. Like us, sheep have theories about life after death - (you become a fluffy, cloud sheep in the sky), and prejudices - (goats are crazy). And occasionally, someone will offer up sane words of advice that both sheep and humans would do well to heed:

"You shouldn't believe what you don't understand. You should understand what you believe.

The sheep in this book can talk, but onl...more
Kim
An interesting concept that had me wanting to read it the moment I was told about it. Set in rural Ireland this books is about a flock of smarter-than-your-average sheep who set out to discover the truth behind the murder of their beloved shepherd. Led by the smartest sheep, Miss Maple, the rest of the flock, including Othello (the black sheep - literally and figuratively), Mopple (the sheep who never forgets), Sir Ritchfield (the aged lead ram) and a host of others, search for clues and motives...more
Terence
Mar 27, 2009 Terence rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery fans, sheep-novel fans
Recommended to Terence by: Maevisvintage
Shelves: mysteries
Rating: 3.8 stars, I’m rounding up

Three Bags Full is, without a doubt, the best sheep detective novel ever written. It’s a very fun read that can be enjoyed as a simple diversion from life’s cares or as a serious, if humorous, look at dealing with “guilt, misdeeds, and unrequited love” (back cover).

The story begins when George Glenn’s flock discovers his dead body in their meadow one morning. An uncommon shepherd, George had been in the habit of reading to his sheep – primarily trashy romances (...more
Charles Suffredini
Oct 14, 2007 Charles Suffredini rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my mom
I remember a story my Mom told me about waiting in line to turn in her cable box. It was a torturous line and an older guy storms in, tosses his box and remote on the counter and amid curses departs shouting "Sheep! You are all SHEEP!! Baaaaaa!"

I like that it is from the perspective of sheep. I really liked how the sheep perspective developed a true respect for the view from the outside in. I even laughed out loud a couple of times over sheep antics since it so closely related to events in the o...more
Jenn
Who would not be passionate about a book that has a lead sheep detective named Miss Maple? And a lovely, dim, fluffy sheep named Cloud? Or a black ram named Othello? I could not resist; I could not put it down. I love this book - the solving of the murder of their shepherd, George, is only part of the appeal.The fact that they think humans must only have small souls because of their inferior sense of smell is only the tip of the iceberg as to why these characters are so endearing. At one point,...more
Nikki
Perhaps it was inevitable that I'd like Leonie Swann's sheep detective novel). For one thing, it got a good review from a friend of mine, which is why I asked for it for my birthday in the first place. And for another, it's about sheep. Granted, they're not Welsh sheep, but hey, that's not their fault. It's an interesting way to tell a story -- a shepherd dies, and his flock set out to discover his murderer? It kept me guessing in a fun way because you're limited to what the sheep can see/hear a...more
Book Concierge
Audiobook performed by Josephine Bailey

In the village of Glennkill a flock of sheep emerge from the hay barn to begin their daily grazing, only to discover their shepherd dead, a spade pinning his body to the ground. Who killed him? George was a wonderful shepherd, and frequently read to them. They especially liked the love stories and mysteries, and so they feel qualified to begin investigating. The sheep are determined to find out who the killer is and bring him or her to justice.

I was comple...more
Bill
Three Bags Full, good read. Definitely a good summer read. Yes, it’s an animal mystery novel. But don’t read it for that. It is a delightful poke at people. For me the best parts of the book have to do with sheepish metaphysics and aesthetics. As you may have picked up in other reviews, the flock has a peculiar understanding about souls and just how big a man’s soul might be. Not to mention the afterlife. Here is a passage I liked:

“Maple realized that she was feeling uncomfortable, from her hoov...more
Andrew
I was not expecting to enjoy this book. I am not normally someone who likes the cute-animals-solve-a-murder subgenre of the mystery genre, and I really tend to despise the cozy end of the mystery genre in general, so I didn't go into it expecting much. I was reading it for a book club I was in, and I didn't pick it up until the day before our meeting to discuss the book. For that reason, I didn't have time to get through the entire book before the meeting, but I was surprised to find myself flyi...more
Justine
I learned about Three Bags Full from the NYT book review and was immediately interested-- a dead shepherd.. and a murder mystery from the point of view of his literary flock of sheep? winner!

The structure of the book itself is slyly quaint. It opens with "Dramatis Oves" (sheep only, obvi.) and neatly and wittly heads each chapter title.

I gave Three Bags Full four stars is because it's oddly innovative and wackily off-kilter. The (myopic) narrative lens is applied deftly and way more effectively...more
The Flooze
*4.5*

Three Bags Full is a delightfully clever murder mystery, filled with endearing characters, sinister activities, and astoundingly thoughtful observations.

Leonie Swann's humorous tale of determined, inquisitive sheep is striking in many ways. Lovely in its cadence and poetic meanderings, the language alone is enthralling. The descriptions of sea and sky, air and earth, are all so vivid. There’s a wonderful flow to the text, tripping lightly yet assuredly through the sheep’s thoughts until you...more
Mika
I was completely sold when I heard this description: “A flock of sheep investigates the murder of their shepherd.” How can you go wrong? The book even has a list of the sheep at the beginning, with descriptions such as “Willow - the second most silent sheep in the flock; no one minds that.”

So far as murder mysteries go, I loved this one until the last quarter of the book. Maybe I’m just too picky about endings; maybe there just aren’t any great endings anymore. Either way, I was fairly disappoin...more
Michael
My first impression of this book was; it reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the sense of an unlikely detective solving a crime. It was probably with this thought that made me not enjoy this book as much as expected. While there is some very interesting concepts in this book; it has a very philosophical theme throughout of this book, I thought the author padded the book a little too much. While the sheep made for very interesting and enjoy about characters, I felt...more
David
This is a wonderful book. Crime-fighting sheep! Set in Ireland! What more could you ask for?

The back cover says it has been translated into 32 languages (from the original German). I can certainly understand why. Totally charming and hilarious - I stayed up until 5am last night to finish it. It's a wonder the hotel guests in neighboring rooms didn't complain about my loud guffaws.

If you can make room for only one book about crime-fighting sheep (the smartest of whom is called Miss Maple) this su...more
Chris
A murder solved or attempted to be solved by sheep. Swann does have her sheep think like sheep, or at least they seem to. They still sheep during the course of the whole book, that is they still in character. And that might be the problem I have with the ending. The ending seems almost too pat, though the sheep's reaction to it was well done. The book does start very slow, however, that might be due to the translation more than anything.
Vered
So, how can one deny himself a book about talking sheep. Talking sheep that solves murder. Talking sheep that solves murder and make you fall in love with them (alas, not the first time I fall for a sheep).
Well one couldn’t, or rather shouldn’t.
It’s a funny book, clever, intriguing and full of warmth.
Wonderful read.
Mmars
It's been quite a few years since I visited rural England. But at the time, sheep were everywhere. And everywhere they went they grazed. Parks. Soccer fields. Beside houses and restaurants. Sometimes they would look up and look at you (mainly if you came too close to them) but usually they just stood or layed around eating grass. And people just ignored them.

So, when the shepherd of a small, diverse and odd flock of sheep shows up dead they are able to wander around and investigate his death, wo...more
Rebecca
Seeing a flock of sheep standing on a grassy hill, we often assume their minds are complete blanks; they must have no thought beyond grazing and sleeping. Leonie Swann attempts to disprove that assumption in Three Bags Full. A flock of sheep awakes one morning to discover a spade stuck through the chest of their beloved shepherd, George Glenn. Lead by a team of wooly sleuths: Miss Maple, possibly the world’s smartest sheep, Othello, a black four-horned ram, and Mopple the Whale, a ram who rememb...more
Jessa
What do you say about a book that follows the premise of sheep, yes sheep, who are attempting to find out who murdered their much beloved shepherd?

Well, it's wonderful. When their shepherd George, who read books to them every afternoon and who has promised to take them to Europe, turns up dead the sheep feel the need to find "justice." They don't know what justice means exactly but they hear the word in the books George read to them. They run into trouble when God, who is actually the town pries...more
Mark
Roadtrip audiobook #2, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. I picked it up for Geeta (you know, yarn, sheep, maybe sheep dogs) without high expectations. But this "sheep detective story," set in a remote Irish village but written by a German doctoral student in Englit, is clever, funny, and profound. I guess a story about sheep striving to understand human motives, and the social organization of flocks, and to confront their own worst fears and sheepish mentality might be read somewhat al...more
Kelly
In this book, a shephered in a small town in Ireland is murdered. He used to read to his flock of sheep, and wanted to take them abroad to Europe one day. In the sheep's dreams, Europe was full of clover and apple trees. When the sheep - whose intelligence has been markedly improved by all this reading (though they make a point to say that they did not enjoy the book on Sheep Diseases) - discover that their shepherd has been impaled by his own spade, they undertake (with appropriate sheepy hesit...more
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Ravelry Knitters: September Book: Three Bags Full 41 95 Sep 30, 2013 01:24PM  
three bags full 6 36 Jun 07, 2013 05:43PM  
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Leonie Swann (b. 1975 Dachau near Munich, Germany) is the nom de plume of a German crime writer. She studied philosophy, psychology and English literature in Munich, and now lives in Berlin.
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“No sheep may leave the flock," he said to anyone who would listen, "unless he comes back again.” 13 likes
“The sea looked as if it had been licked clean, blue and clear and smooth, and there were a few woolly little clouds in the sky. Legend said that these clouds were sheep who had simply wandered over the cliff tops one day, special sheep who now went on grazing in the sky and were never shorn. In any case, they were a good sign.” 6 likes
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