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Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story

(Sheep Detective Story #1)

by
3.63  ·  Rating details ·  9,563 ratings  ·  1,517 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
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Paperback, 341 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Broadway Books/ Flying Dolphin Press (first published 2005)
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Cecilia Crescent It's for adults. Without getting into spoilers, it features topics that are not suitable for immature readers. It's just that the sheep, whose eyes…moreIt's for adults. Without getting into spoilers, it features topics that are not suitable for immature readers. It's just that the sheep, whose eyes the story is told from, don't understand what they are. The reader however, is explicitly told about these things.(less)
Claire Well, at the beginning of my book is a list of "dramatis oves," which are:

Maude: has a very good sense of smell and is proud of it.

Sir Ritchfield: the…more
Well, at the beginning of my book is a list of "dramatis oves," which are:

Maude: has a very good sense of smell and is proud of it.

Sir Ritchfield: the lead ram, not as young as he used to be, rather hard of hearing and has a poor memory, but his eyes are still good.

Miss Maple: the cleverest sheep in the flock, maybe the cleverest sheep in Glennkill, quite possibly the cleverest sheep in the whole world. Has an enquiring mind, never gives up, sometimes feels a sense of responsibility.

Heather: a lively young sheep, doesn't always think before she speaks.

Cloud: the woolliest sheep in the flock.

Mopple the Whale: the memory sheep: once he has seen something he never forgets it. A very stout Merino ram with round spiral horns, almost always hungry.

Othello: a black Hebridean four-horned ram with a mysterious past.

Zora: a Blackface sheep, with a good head for heights, the only ewe with horns in George Glenn's flock.

Rameses: a young ram whose horns are still rather short.

Lane: the fastest sheep in the flock, a pragmatic thinker.

Sara: a mother ewe.

a lamb: who has seen something strange.

Cordelia: likes unusual words.

Melmoth: Sir Ritchfield's twin brother, a legendary ram who disappeared.

Maisie: a naïve young sheep.

the winter lamb: a difficult lamb, a troublemaker.

Willow: the second most silent sheep in the flock; no one minds that.

Gabriel's ram: a very odd sheep.

Fosco: correctly thinks himself clever.

The book doesn't give a list of human characters, and the Wikipedia list has spoilers, so if you want those I'd have to edit the Wiki and take out all the extra information.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.63  · 
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Lawyer
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone not fearful of appearing sheepish
Recommended to Lawyer 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
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Kai
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: animal-lovers, weirdos, bored-readers, creative minds
This is one of the weirdest books I have ever read in my short life.

No, honestly: if you are tired of cliché, tired of fairytale-retellings, tired of love-triangles, tired of the usual average book, try this one. You will not be disappointed.
I know the rating is not encouraging, but that is because it is not everybody's cup of tea. The reason? Sheep. Yeah, sheep. The books main characters? Miss Maple, Othello and Mopple the Whale - Sheep! The POV? Yeah right, sheep! The dead body? Their shepherd
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Lena
Sep 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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
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Michael
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Chrissie
Dec 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Marya
Apr 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen-mystery
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
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Sian Jones
Nov 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
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Terence
Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mystery fans, sheep-novel fans
Recommended to Terence by: Maevisvintage
Shelves: mysteries-noir
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 (
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Marlene
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jenn
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Wendy Wagner
It's almost a shame this book gets shelved as a mystery. While a murder mystery underpins the action on the page, the book has very little to do with mystery and hard-core mystery fans will probably come away feeling a little underwhelmed. This book is a pretty neat commentary on books and literature; it's about existentialism and the meaning of life; it's about the relationship between humans and animals; it's a sort of conversation with one of the most important novels in the English canon (an ...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
Laura
Nov 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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
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Alexandra
Da ich mich nicht leicht in ein Schaf hineinversetzen kann, war der Roman für mich bis fast zum Finale wirklich gewöhnungsbedürftig. Die Krimihandlung auf Umwegen aus der Sicht der Schafe zu erzählen, hielt ich ursprünglich für eine ausgezeichnete und mit jeder zusätzlich gelesenen Seite für eine schlechtere Idee, weil die Geschichte dadurch wirklich erheblich an Tempo und Spannung verliert. Trotzdem Hut ab vor der Autorin, die diese gewählte Konstellation mit einer Konsequenz und Konsistenz dur ...more
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathrin
I don't know how I could overlook this book for that long. It combines many things that I love - sheep, a compelling mystery, the concept of seeing yourself in comparison to others - and did I mention sheep? Yes, you can make me very happy if you present me a new kind of story.

'Glennkill' is a mystery story set in Ireland. Another favorite of mine - unfortunately, the setting is not that important to the story. One day, a flock of sheep wakes up to find their shepherd murdered. After their init
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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
Chris
Nov 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mikka Gottstein
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Handlung:

Die Schafe von George Glenn sind eine bunt zusammengewürfelte Herde ganz normaler und doch außergewöhnlicher Schafe, wie zum Beispiel Miss Maple, das vielleicht klügste Schaf der Welt, Mopple the Whale, der verfressene Widder mit dem perfekten Gedächtnis, oder Zora, die es liebt, todesmutig auf der Klippe zu sitzen und die Kräuter des Abgrunds zu fressen.

Auch wenn sie nicht immer alles verstehen, lieben sie es, wenn Schäfer George ihnen vorliest. (Dumm ist nur, dass er den Krimi wegge
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Mmars
Feb 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Eustachio
Jun 03, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romanzi, tedeschi
Le pecore di Glennkill indagano sulla misteriosa morte del loro pastore. Geniale, eh? Trattenete l'entusiasmo perché non basta una premessa simpatica per renderlo un bel libro.
Il problema è che le pecore sono pecore («Ma va'?»), ovvero non sono molto sveglie, hanno una visione limitata della realtà e una pessima memoria, possono indagare soltanto origliando conversazioni che casualmente hanno luogo dove sono presenti anche loro e in cui vengono casualmente svelati un po' alla volta dettagli util
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Jamie Collins
I wanted to like this more than I actually did, but I’m awarding a third star because it’s such a quirky idea for a book: a flock of sheep in a small Irish village try to solve the mystery of who murdered their beloved shepherd.

For the most part I enjoyed the sheep. The descriptions of their personalities, their various strengths and weaknesses, and their grazing preferences was amusing. I got the feeling that some stuff would have been funnier if I had actually ever spent any time observing she
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Charles Suffredini
Sep 26, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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
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Chinchilla_clouds
Νομίζω πως είναι άδικο να ορίσουμε αυτό το βιβλίο απλά ως ένα αστυνομικό μυθιστόρημα του οποίου η πρωτοτυπία είναι το ότι οι πρωταγωνιστές είναι ζώα. Σίγουρα, είναι ολοκληρωμένο, στέρεα δομήμενο όσον αφορά τη συλλογιστική του, έχει την αγωνία για την λύση του μυστηρίου, είναι γλυκό και αστείο και αληθινά συγκινητικό, ωστόσο είναι πολύ πιο βαθύ από ότι περιμένει κανείς.

Διαβάζοντας το, ερχόμαστε αντιμέτωποι με φιλοσοφικά, λαογραφικά/μυθολογικά, θρησκευτικά, σημειολογικά και ψυχογραφικά στοιχεία. Α
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Nikki
Aug 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
David
Sep 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2007
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
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Julie
What a fun and intriguing read! Imagine Watership Down, but with sheep and a mystery. George, the shepherd for a flock of Irish sheep has died under mysterious circumstances and the sheep decide to find out who killed him. I was totally enthralled by each sheep in the flock—each with their own personality—and how together they navigated the human world around them to solve the mystery. Simply delightful, and highly recommended.

My local library system has had a "10 to Try" challenge in both 2017
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Drew
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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First Monday Book...: April 2018 Selection 1 4 Aug 06, 2018 01:07PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add Award to Book 3 25 Jun 18, 2017 10:49AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann and Anthea Bell 12 73 Mar 31, 2015 11:32AM  
2017 Reading Chal...: Glennkill 1 16 Jan 12, 2015 12:20AM  
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Leonie Swann (b. 1975 Dachau near Munich, Germany) is the nom de plume of a German crime writer. She went to school at Ignaz Taschner Gymnasium Dachau. She studied philosophy, psychology and English literature in Munich, and now lives in Berlin.

Other books in the series

Sheep Detective Story (2 books)
  • Garou (Sheep Detective Story, #2)
“No sheep may leave the flock," he said to anyone who would listen, "unless he comes back again.” 16 likes
“You shouldn't believe what you don't understand. You should understand what you believe.” 15 likes
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