A lucky, luck find for me! (But it’s a darned strange little book!) It’s YA but NOT a children’s book at all! It means Young Adult – ages 16 to 22 or something – like the The Fault in Our Stars by John Green which both my 16-year old granddaughter and I loved – as well as many other adults.
Anyway, not knowing the YA part (I didn’t know that about The Fault in Our Stars, either) I picked this out months ago while browsing amongst the Audible selections, reading, sampling, etc. It just looked like something I thought I might enjoy. – a crime story I thought. But it stayed on my Wish List until I nominated it for the BookGroup List and they chose it for the May read. That time is coming up soon, so I’m read it. YAY!!!! – I did good! (Good for me anyway- heh – however, this tale may not be for everybody. )
This site is extremely helpful for a character list and house numbers but try to skip the spoilers: (There are lots of characters.)
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
by Joanna Cannon
2017/ 368 pages
read by Paula Wilcox – 11h
rating: A/8 (for fun)/ very British literary suspense (set in the 1970s)
Mrs Creasy has gone missing somehow – and she apparently left without her shoes. And Grace along with her best friend Tilly, both age 10, have the whole hot summer of England circa 1976 ahead of them to find her – and to find God as well, because, as the vicar said, God is everywhere and helps those who need to be found. 🙂
Taking this to heart, the precociously clever and charming Grace (who is not quite as naive as her parents think, but a lot more naive than she thinks), along with the very good-natured Tilly who has her own problems, go knocking door-to-door, They interview their neighbors as to their belief in God and their knowledge of Mrs Creasy, among other things. They’re in no big hurry. They find out lots of stuff – mysteries – which unfold in due course.
Meanwhile, in scenes without Grace and Tilly, the adult neighbors express concern for the security of their secrets which the lovely Mrs Creasy apparently knows and might tell. Furthermore, they don’t like Mr Creasy as he is one of several odd ducks in the neighborhood so they know he’s up to something – but ??? – would he murder his wife?
These neighbors have known each other for many years and their memories are just as long – back to when a crime involving a missing baby was committed. And there’s Walter Bishop, the weirdo whose mother suspiciously died in a house fire, or Brian Roper, who is apparently in on something. And in addition to suspecting each other of various nefarious deeds, it seems they all have their own secrets which they have confided to the now missing Mrs Creasy.
When the police become involved in finding the missing woman and an official investigation starts, Grace and Tilly try to observe everything, listening in on various conversations and watching closely as the hot summer goes on and the neighborhood becomes tense. .
The story shifts in some chapters to those events of a decade ago which the adults really want to keep under wraps and especially away from the police in some cases.
I am not kidding when I say that this book had me laughing out loud until tears appeared – and more than once, too, many times. In my very American view, this little British girl and her friends are exceptionally cheeky in the Aussie sense of the term. And the adults, particularly the women, are hilarious in a drier kind of way. The men are mostly serious and somewhat scary.
That said, there is plenty of suspense, the palpable late-night kind, and it’s well executed because serious crimes have been committed and the girls are could be messing with some dangerous people. The neighborhood is rife with fear and suspicion of anything different or new.
The main thing is in the themes – religion (Christianity), outsiders, “un-belongers” people who are different in any way, fear and when good people do bad things, (“Goats and Sheep”) etc. And then there’s the whole idea of guilt. Some of this is from a kid’s understanding.
I love the way Cannon describes almost everything, although there might be a wee tad of simile overload, and Paula Wilcox reads it very nicely.
The only complaint I have about the book, and I don’t know if it’s the book or the narrator, the tone doesn’t really change between adults and kids – although the kids are often funnier – it’s kind of a range of one tone / one voice.
Cannon has a new one coming out in August – I’ll be getting it.