Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

It is the summer of ’76 and a heat wave grips Britain. In their small Midlands town, ten year olds Grace and Tilly are determined to discover what has happened to their popular neighbour, Mrs Creasy, who has vanished still wearing her slippers. Mr Creasy is lost without her, wandering into the street every time the bus is due to see if she has returned, while other neighbours fear foul play.

At the local pub, there are mutterings about Walter Bishop, the weird loner who lives a few doors down, while the temperature sours and thoughts drift back to a terrible event that happened in 1969. Mrs Creasy had a talent for inspiring confidences. Had she discovered a secret that needed silencing?

Part mystery, part psychological drama, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep explores the dynamics of a neighbourhood where everyone looks out for everyone, but sometimes prejudice rears its ugly head. It is a warm and humorous novel which, with its similar themes and frequent use of a child narrator, reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Author Joanna Cannon has taken a pause in her busy career as a doctor to write fiction, and I hope she won’t follow the example of Harper Lee, and resist publishing another book for decades, because The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is utterly brilliant.

Posted by JAM

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