Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann is a frolicking mystery told from the perspective of a very clever flock of sheep. But the plot of the story is about a shepherd, George, who cannot seem to fit in to his own human flock, the people of the quiet Irish seaside town of Gelnkill. George is found, first by his sheep and later by the village drunk, with a spade stabbed into the middle of his chest, lying dead in his meadow. After finding the shepherd dead, all kinds of townsfolk come snooping around the meadow and George's sheep are quite committed to finding out which one of them put their shepherd out to pasture. Our clever protagonists hoof it, collected scattered bits of over-heard conversations, and obscure pieces of evidence, while offering the reader an interesting perspective on the comings and goings of their human suspects, including musings about the size of the human soul in relation to the human ability to smell. These are no bland faceless sheep, but curiously creative detectives. There is Miss Maple, the cleverest sheep in Glennkill, Othello, the black ram with a tortured past, Mopple the Whale the memory sheep, Sir Richfield, the lead ram who is losing his hearing and maybe his marbles, and many more curious characters. They investigate, graze, observe, graze some more, overhear, and graze their way to pulling the fleece off the eyes of the humans and bringing a murderer to justice. But don't be fooled by the whimsical nature of our dear detectives, or the sleepy start to the book, this is more than woolly fluff. Written by first time novelist Leonia Swann, this book is filled with gentle literary and philosophical allusions for those learned enough to ‘get it'. But never fear if you are a Nichizen novice, I am too and while I know I missed some inside jokes, I was able to wholly delight in the novel. As for the mystery, this is one of the few that I can honestly say caught me completely by surprise.
Recommended by Megan Willan