On a hillside near the cosy Irish village of Glennkill, a flock of sheep gather around their beloved shepherd George, who lies murdered, his body pinned to the pasture with a spade. Fortunately, George has left behind an unusually intelligent group of sheep. Every night since they were lambs, he has read aloud to them – fairy tales, factual books about ovine disease, even detective stories – in order to help them sleep.
Faced with a real-life investigation, the flock spring into action. They are led with fortitude by Miss Maple, the cleverest sheep in Glennkill and possibly the world, She is aided by Cordelia, who loves long words; and Othello, a ram with a dark past. Together they uncover the truth behind the life and death of their shepherd. Why did George tie little packets under their bellies before they crossed the meadow? And whose blood does Ham the butcher have on his hands?
While some of the detectives insist on chewing the evidence, or even forgetting it, together they succeed in shedding the revelatory light on the inexplicable world of human beings, and even on themselves.
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Wonderful, entertaining and charming
I like to change the pace of my listens, following a dark Jo Nesbo with an Agatha Raisin comic piece. It was in the expectation of Agatha type wit that I bought Three Bags Full.
But, Leonnie Swann's herd of detective sheep are in a league of their own, a creation of sensitive observation of animal behaviour and great imagination. Brilliant.
Hugh Lee is rapidly rising to no. 1 spot in my personal 'best narrator' top ten. The characterization of each individual is thorough, distinctive and utterly convincing. This is a group (flock) piece, each character adding a particular spice to the mix, so it is not really fair to single out one. They all have a charm and appeal. The dialogue is brilliantly dramatised and articulated, and Hugh Lee's reading style in descriptive passages is easy and flowing. There is a sense of a lot of background and preparatory work before the recording being worn lightly in a confident, polished performance.
There are lots of moments to note, but saying anything here risks me writing spoilers that would undermine the narrativeand plot... So you will just have to find out for yourself!
I really, really enjoyed this and hope to hear more from Leonnie Swann.
Takes a while
The story takes a while to get in to, and at first you wonder how on earth the sheep can discover enough clues, but it's done really well and I actually miss the sheep now it's finished!
I would definitely give a different Swann book a go- she writes with great voice and rhythm.
- Claire H.