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BookLust: Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann February 8, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust.
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One baaaaad book.

One baaaaad book.

I originally grabbed this book at Barnes & Noble because my one of my office mates had a student give an oral report on it.  The premise sounded interesting enough, and it just so happened to be on a 2 for 1 table, so I brought it home.  

The idea behind this mystery novel is, well, novel:  a herd of Irish sheep, upon finding their shepard murdered, decide to unravel (haha, get it?) the mystery.  The book follows their hunt for justice from a third person limited point of view, with full focus being on the sheep.  Swann does a decent job capturing what the human world might seem like from a sheep’s perspective (I suppose, I’ve never spoken to a sheep before), and her sheepy characters are enjoyable.  That’s about where the rollicking good time promised on the cover ends. 

This book was originally written in German, and has since been translated into fifteen languages.  Leonie Swann–not her real name, she was working on a dissertation at the time of the book’s publishing and decided to go with a pseudonym should writing about sheep detectives kill her academic credibility–has a clipped and oftentimes confusing writing style.  Imagery is sparse, the narrative is stilted, and it’s hard to access the motivations behind her characters.  The plot itself begins as a murder, but morphs into this completely unbelievable murder/suicide/drug running plot that could have been interesting, but instead reads ridiculous.  To boot, there are too many loose ends by the conclusion of the story to leave the reader even marginally satisfied.  

This was one of those books that I had to force myself to finish.  The idea was cute enough, but it completely failed in execution.  Hopefully Swann will stick to academics, where one can only hope her prose is more manageable than in Three Bags Full. 

Rating: 2 stars (won’t read again, wouldn’t recommend)  

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