Title: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
Author: Joanna Cannon
Page Count/Review Word Count: 456
I’ll be honest, I only picked up this book because I’d heard my friend Charles Heathcote sing its praises time and time again in his YouTube videos. Then I saw it going cheap in a charity shop and so I thought I ought to go ahead and pick it up. I’m glad that I did.
This book blends together a few different genres but is predominantly a sort of cosy mystery, focusing on the disappearance of the inhabitant of a sleepy British village in the 1970s. Our main detectives are a couple of kids who are trying to find god, because if he shows up then he might stop bad things from happening again.
But it’s one of those where the actual plot doesn’t really matter, because it’s all about the characters and some of the humour that we see along the way in both the narrative and the ways that the different characters react to each other. It captures something quintessentially British and does a great job of holding a mirror up against a time that’s long since gone.
I think my only qualm with this book was the fact that it occasionally jumped backwards and forwards through time, and even though it wasn’t as though we were travelling through hundreds of years, it was a little jarring. I understand why Cannon did it and I think it was necessary to tell the story in the way that she told it, but it was a bit of a pain to have to keep checking the dates to figure out when the action was actually happening.
But other than that, it was a well written novel that’s even more impressive when you consider it was Cannon’s debut, although my uncle told me that she’d written other stuff before that was all about horses. I have no idea whether that’s true or not and will probably never find out because I’m not that interested and have no major desire to check out more of Cannon’s work, but I thought it was still worth mentioning.
As for whether I’d recommend this book, it’s pretty much a yes. In fact, I think it’s one of those books that has so much going for it that I find it hard to think of anyone I know who wouldn’t enjoy it, or who wouldn’t at least take something positive away from it. It’s a rarity for a first novel, and even seasoned authors struggle to write something like this, and so I think that’s a testament to Cannon’s skills as a writer. Awesome!