Where's Merrill? - a genealogical thriller by Gearoid O'Neary

Now available at the Amazon Kindle Store: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BMUQN0I, Where's Merrill? is a very unique type of fiction novel. It is actually a disguised real-life Family History based upon thorough research by an Irish genealogist, written in the style of a detective story or mystery suspense thriller. In honor of the Irish connection, this book will be free to download on St Patrick's Day, March 17 2013, and the day after too ... for those nursing a hangover!

I am an author and genealogist. After professionally compiling over 3000 Family Trees on behalf of clients, this particular complex and worrying saga stood out and just had to be shared. The main character Merrill did not belong to any ordinary Family Tree. In fact, his name had been wiped from living memory after he allegedly just disappeared over 70 years ago. He had no death record, no burial. Nothing. What happened to him, and why would his own children not even mention his name to their own offspring? 

Merrill belonged to a tree inhabited by a very remarkable and unique set of ancestors.
In most ancestry research into normal everyday families, words like "suicide," "insanity," "false ID," "deceit," "greed," "the U.S. President," "disappearance," and so on, do not crop up. But in this particular research project commissioned by Tim, an American client, bizarre happenings cropped up time and again. 

Tim's desperate desire to learn more was driven by more than curiosity. His mother lived into old age.  From little quips she occasionally made to Tim, he knew that his mother had had a difficult upbringing. But, she refused to engage in any real discussion about what had happened before Tim was born. A loving son knew that his mother hurt from it, but the trouble was, Tim never really knew any details of "it". As his mother grew older and steadfastly refused to reveal much about her birth family or her childhood experiences, Tim developed the feeling that his own peace of mind demanded that he must explore her background for himself. Why was she so sad, and secretive, about her childhood and parents?

It was not until after the death of his mother that Tim stepped up his family history research efforts and subsequently commissioned some professional assistance. I am pleased to say that I became good friends with Tim as we set out on a research trail that took almost 12 months to complete. We were regularly puzzled or shocked by the antics of his ancestors. We empathized, we laughed, and sometimes we tried to hold back tears.
The telling of the Where's Merrill? story has been intentionally crafted so that the reader discovers the often conflicting and confusing family history facts in the same sequence as the researching genealogist. As a result, Where's  Merrill? is deliberately structured in flashback sequences set in the USA, interspersed with scenes that occur in the Ancestry Research HQ in Ireland. The "story" begins with Merrill as a child in Kansas and then jumps to other states and other parts of his life in unanticipated ways, reflecting the alternating horizontal and vertical research trail that became a remarkable journey of discovery.

The book includes retrieved photos of the main characters and Family Tree charts to guide the reader along the complex ancestry trail responsible for Merrill's eventual "disappearance." More info available at wheresmerrill.com