Three Bags Full

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Three Bags Full
Three Bags Full cover.jpg
Hardcover edition
Author Leonie Swann
Original title 'Glennkill: Ein Schafskrimi'
Translator Anthea Bell
Country Germany
Language German
Genre Detective novel
Publisher Transworld Publishers Limited, Doubleday Publishing, Randomhouse Inc.
Publication date
Published in English
Pages 368 pp
ISBN 0-385-60994-9
OCLC 64312670

Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story (original German title: Glennkill: Ein Schafskrimi) is a work of detective fiction which features a flock of anthropomorphic Irish sheep out to solve the murder of their shepherd. Written originally in German by Leonie Swann, the novel has been translated into more than 30 languages.[1]


At the beginning of the novel, the sheep belonging to George Glenn awake to find their shepherd dead with a spade in his middle, and resolve to solve his murder. The story is set in the fictional Irish village of Glennkill. Horrified, Miss Maple, the cleverest sheep in the flock (and possibly the world), suggests they find the murderer. The others agree, and Miss Maple volunteers to inspect the body.

A little later, a certain Tom O'Malley finds the body and, panicked, runs to fetch the people of Glennkill. This draws not only the townspeople, but several reporters.

List of Human Characters[edit]

The bookcover lists members of the sheep flock and their role in the story. Below is a list of notable human characters and their roles. Contains plot details.

George Glenn: Is the shepherd of the flock. He is lonely, depressed, suicidal and feels lost. George is married to Kate and has a mistress, Lily. George has an adult daughter, Rebecca; but he has no relationship with her. Before his death, he wrote a letter to Rebecca. George is a drug trafficker. He uses the sheep as mules to transport marijuana. Unlike the townspeople, George is not interested in expanding the tourist market in his town of Glenkill. With his friend Ham the butcher, George discovered the dead body of McCarthy.

Kate: Once caught in a love triangle between George and the butcher Ham, Kate married George. She gained weight after marriage. Ham continues to love her and pine for her.

Beth Jameson: A devout Christian who lives alone. Beth tells Rebecca that George was never her boyfriend. She left Glenkill for a mission in Africa; and, when she returned, everything had changed. An anxious woman, Beth smells bad to the sheep. After George's sheep reenact his murder at the Mad Boar Pub, Beth speaks to the audience and reveals that George came to her before his death. George told Beth his plans of suicide. After his suicide, Beth drove the spade through his body, as George requested.

Abraham Rackham (Ham): the local butcher and one of George's few friends. Together with George, he discovered the body of McCarthy. Ham loves George's wife, Kate, and installs cameras at his shop so that he can record the moments when she visits his shop. One misty day after George's death Ham tries to steal a sheep from George's flock, falls off a cliff and is paralyzed.

Father William: The sheep name Father William 'God.' He sees the sheep around town and in his church conducting their investigation and becomes very fearful of them.

Inspector Holmes: An ineffective investigator. He does not solve George's murder case, or the McCarthy murder case.

Gabriel: A shepherd with a flock of sheep raised for mutton. George's sheep like him at first and consider him to be a good shepherd, but learn that he is not a very good shepherd. Gabriel is motivated by money.

Josh Baxter: The landlord of the Mad Boar pub. Josh Baxter is interested in expanding the tourist trade in Glenkill because he will benefit financially.

Tom O'Malley: An alcoholic who finds the dead body of George the shepherd. During the smartest sheep contest, Tom is drunk and correctly understands that George's sheep are acting out his murder.

The 'Master Hunter':This character is never named by the author, or the human characters in the story. The sheep recognize his smell and call him the master hunter. He may be involved with drug trafficking.

Rebecca:George's daughter. Her mother is not revealed. She volunteers to take the flock of sheep to Europe and because the sheep choose her over Gabriel, she inherits the flock and shepherding duties. Before his death, George sent her a letter. She intentionally delayed a reply and regretted that decision after his death.

The lawyer:


Harry the sinner:



Largely humorous in character, the novel displays a strong knowledge of sheep behavior, biology, husbandry and breeds (the merino and hebridean are present, among others).[2][3] Using the perspective of the flock, Swann makes comedic jabs at human character and institutions.[4][5]


  1. ^ Brunskill, Ian (2006-06-03). "Graze anatomy". The Times. London. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  2. ^ Jakeman, Jane (June 23, 2006). "Four legs good, two legs bad". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  3. ^ Ephron, Hallie (June 24, 2007). "Sherlocks in sheep's clothing". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  4. ^ Sansom, Ian (July 22, 2006). "A shaggy sheep story". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  5. ^ Vishrup, Amy (June 21, 2007). "Books Newly Released". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 

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