The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
The darker side of Neighbourhood Watch
In the sweltering summer of 1976, a seemingly ordinary cul-de-sac on an English housing estate becomes the scene of a missing person inquiry. The disappearance of Margaret Creasy from Number 8 puts everyone on edge. Suspicion and blame start to spread in murmurs down The Avenue, causing new rifts to break out in the community and re-opening old scars from a series of strange events that happened ten years before.
We follow the investigation of ten-year-old detectives Grace and Tilly, who plan to spend their summer holiday discovering the whereabouts of Mrs Creasy by interviewing their neighbours and being generally nosey. As the overwhelming heatwave forces firmly closed doors to open, each chapter gives us a glimpse into the most private lives of our neighbours, and shows us that every person is struggling with their own secret vices, fears, and sadness.
Joanna Cannon worked as a hospital doctor before specialising as a psychiatrist. It was through her experiences working with people who didn’t quite “fit in”, people who are often perceived as guilty because they are different, that drew her towards writing about the concept of the scapegoat.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is an absorbing, witty and insightful first novel with something important to say; every ordinary sheep in the flock is in some way actually a goat, that “there is a little unbelonging in all of us. It’s just that some people are better at hiding it than others.”
“Part whodunnit, part coming of age, this is a gripping debut about the secrets behind every door.” – Rachel Joyce