Book Review || The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep 1

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep 2

England, the summer of 1976 and the heat is blazing and Mrs Creasy is missing.

The avenue is alive with whispers, as the heat mingles with the swirling dust of rumours and long-buried secrets, bringing old resentments to the surface.

For ten-year-old Grace and her best friend Tilly the mystery is a welcome distraction from the usual round of summer holiday boredom and as the summer shimmers endlessly on, they decide to take matters into their own hands.

Yet as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…


To me, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep was part crime story, part coming of age, naive children’s narrative. The whole plot is set around one suburban street in the 70’s and slowly unveils a number of mysteries as it twists and turns it’s way to the ending – where is Mrs Creasy, what happened with a disappearing baby, and a fire, and what on earth happened between a group of neighbours a number of years ago?

I was excited to start it, loving being able to slowly piece together a plot as each piece is revealed. However, this is a book that doesn’t quite achieve that. I think the main issue I had with this novel is that the characters are indistinct, and even after finishing it, I still don’t have a firm idea of who is who. Some stand out, obviously, but the rest sit in a middle blur of quite similar characteristics – pretty ordinary people laced with quite a depth of woe.

For someone who perhaps grew up in this era I can imagine it being nostalgic, but for the 90’s girl I am, I’m sure many of the 1970s references were lost on me, which is a shame.

I did enjoy Grace and Tilly’s young charm and observation from their 10 year old perspectives, but some other characters just grated on me, and even the more interesting plot points sort of fell flat at the end. Perhaps I’m more impressed by a huge twist, but from a blurb that promised a thrilling mystery, it levelled out as more of an observational piece on the hidden difficulties for everyday life.


Rating: 5/10

Find out more about The Trouble with Goats and Sheep:     |     GoodReads     |     Amazon     |     Website     |

  • Despite the middling score, would you still say it’s worth a read? I actually have a copy of this somewhere as it was part of a book bundle I picked up from a charity shop. Currently, I am trying and failing to get into Watership Down (the film scarred me as a child and I figured I owed it to myself to read the book and get over it haha), so I’m eager to pick up something else.

    – Laura

    • Yes if you’ve already got it it is worth a read, it’s just not what I expected from it I guess! My mum’s currently reading it and she pretty much has had the same opinion as me. It’s an ok book, but just not a crime/mystery novel. xxx

  • Interesting, I was thinking of grabbing a copy, but I think I’ll refrain now lol

    • Oh no, I don’t want to put you off as you might actually love it, I just found it less gripping than I expected, and the characters muddled up! xxx

  • Joanna Cannon is lovely – I met her at a literary event I go to in Oxford, and she was really interesting, funny, and wise. I haven’t read the book though so can’t really helpfully comment! xxx

    • Oooooh claim to fame, that’s exciting! I would love to meet some authors and I’m sure she was lovely, but unfortunately I was excited about the hype for her book, then a bit disappointed with it! xxx

  • Somehow this appeals to me despite your review but I guess that’s just the nature of art, isn’t it? It’s all subjective. Thanks for the head’s up anyway and if I don’t like the book, you’re more than welcome to tell me you told me so! x

    • Thats exactly why I love books! Even if one person isn’t too fussed by one, another might then absolutely adore it! xxx

  • Becky Goddard-Hill

    Oh i like a fabulous twist too..think I’ll slkip this