Book Review: Where’s Merrill?

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Where’s Merrill? By Gearóid O’Neary. Self-published as an e-book. 2013. 117 pages.

It’s relaxing to sit down and read a book just for pleasure’s sake. Set aside the hefty genealogy reference guides and just escape into an easy and comfortable read.

Where’s Merrill would be a good story to slip into. I have it on my e-reader, and it’s an agreeable way to pass the time on a crowded airplane, relax while on vacation, or read just propped up on the living room couch.

Merrill is a fictional genealogical thriller based on factual events and people, but written with artistic license permitting character embellishment and dramatic plot building.

The central character is Merrill Harrison, whose story begins in 1890s-era Kansas. The author narrates two stories back and forth between Merrill and Jed, the researching genealogist of today who is unraveling the background of the Harrisons. But not disconcertingly so, the narrative is clearly-presented and easy to follow.

There are several characters, of which Merrill is the most dissolute. He becomes an embarrassment to his family and the kind of ancestor we don’t want to find in our family trees. Family box charts inserted into the chapters aid in keeping everyone straight, a familiar approach to us all. There are twists and turns to the plot, and interesting research tactics to read about as the professional present-day Jed character goes about methodically stalking the elusive Merrill.

Gearóid O’Neary is the pen name of Irish genealogist and writer Gerard Neary who lives in County Sligo, Ireland, whence he writes his stories.

Mr. O’Neary has a quirky way of writing. It’s a little stumbly, and he doesn’t break any new ground in the creative writing genre, but I didn’t find any of that to be a detriment to the read. Mr. O’Neary obviously likes to write, he obviously likes to tell a story, and that’s exactly what he did.

We can enjoy his story, and he should be pleased that he got his story into publication, no mean feat by anyone’s standards.

We’re all happy.

You can purchase Where’s Merrill directly from the author at or from Amazon as a Kindle ebook at


That is not a pen name. It is his name in the Irish Gaelic language.


    The author writes on his web site that Gearóid O’Neary is his nom de plume which means pen name.


    Bobbi and Joanna are BOTH correct. Gearóid O’Neary is my nom de plume, and also my true name in the native Irish language. When I set out to publish my novel, I was stunned to find that another Gerard Neary in the world is already established as a screenwriter and playwright.
    It then seemed apt to adopt a disguised name, just like the family characters in my book – who were all REAL people.


It’s available in Canada on Kobo.


I downloaded and read this book several months ago. Very interesting and entertaining.


There are several genealogy mystery books available on Kindle. Each is unique and interesting.


    There are two distinct types of contemporary genealogy novel. [1] Conventional and factual family history sagas compiled by competent ancestry researchers, and [2] far-fetched fictional thrillers centered around the life and work of made-up genealogist characters whose lives always seem to be under threat in case they disclose long-hidden family secrets to the world. Both types can be of interest to fans of ancestral research, but sales of examples in the latter category, listed in Kindle’s fictional thriller genre, far outweigh sales of factual research stories. To a professional genealogist, this is a strange phenomenon. I have yet to meet a fellow genealogist whose research work led to death threats!
    When writing “Where’s Merrill?” I deliberately attempted to blend the two classes of genealogical novel. I wrote about the extraordinary members of a REAL family – but in the style of a fiction thriller author. After hitting #1 in the best-seller listings plus receiving over 50 generally positive reviews from regular readers in both camps (factual reference & fiction), I am proud to say that my debut cross-over novel has been well-received by all fans of genealogy.


Reblogged this on Where's Merrill? and commented:
Bobbi King’s take on “Where’s Merrill?” via Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter


I’m sorry to be a wet blanket on this, but my opinion seems to be different from the rest of you. I found it almost impossible to read. My head was spinning going from past to present to past again and again.


    “… going from past to present to past again and again” – isn’t that what persistent genealogists have to do on a regular basis? The head-spinning narrative attempts to recreate the interpretation and re-interpretation of puzzling ancestral record discoveries.


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