Author: Michael Merry

Publisher: Palibrio

ISBN: 10: 1506512062 ISBN-13: 978-1506512068

Trust me when I describe Michael J. Merry as a very clever and superb story-teller who would surely be the ideal guest to have over for dinner and you can bet on him regaling you with his many diversified characters and short stories. On the other hand, if you can't have him over for dinner, why not pick up his latest tome “Guten Tag, Mr Chruchill” and Other Tales.

As in his previous work, The Education of Santiago O'Grady and Other Short Stories, Merry begins with a novella which once again bears the book's name. The novella's theme is based on the highly secret trained volunteers known as the Auxiliary Units that were prepared to be Britain's last ditch line of defence during World War Two to help combat any invasion of England by Germany, which the Germans named Operations Sea Lion.

The units were urged on by Winston Churchill and their role was never fully revealed because they never had to go into operation and little was known about these specially trained men until recently. Merry poses the question, what if the Germans had invaded England? What would have been the ramifications and the possibilities?

In the seven remaining short stories one can never be sure what direction they will take and where it will all end, particularly when Merry throws in actual historical events and again “what if” scenarios.

For example, in Finding Jimmy Merry introduces his readers to Jay Valley who falls in love with Julie Niven, who was a victim of an auto accident, which Jay had witnessed. Jay is called upon to participate in a deposition and as a result Julie wins her case against the driver of the car who admitted that he was using his cell phone to answer a text message and had not seen the red light causing him to crash into her Jaguar.

What is interesting is that Julie works for a cellular company and Jimmy tells her of his invention consisting of a button that would advise any caller to your cellular phone that you were driving and were not available. Upon hearing this, Julie tells Jay that she is the Vice President of Impro Cellular and they would be interested in this gadget. As the story plays out not only does Jay receive a very interesting offer for his invention but ultimately falls in love with Julie. But the story does not end there particularly that Julie's uncle was a Teamster who knew a thing or two about Jimmy Hoffa.

Elsewhere we meet a sixteen year old lad, Jack who volunteered for the Navy in 1915 following in the footsteps of his father and brother, both volunteers. It is a story of valour and deep motherly love. In Second Chance Merry recounts the story of James, a thief that finds his way to redemption. In The Lady Merry throws us a curve in the first few pages as we are certain he is writing about a beautiful woman however as it turns out we realize it is about a 'Seaford' Flying Boat better known as the 'Short Sunderland,' and only eight were ever built. The RAF did carry out military trials of these flying boat patrol bombers that were developed for the RAF by the Short brothers. Here again Merry refers to actual events in history and ends with reference to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan's twin engine Electra. Earhart disappeared in 1937 and was an American aviation pioneer as well as the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

With Ghostbusters Merry focuses on a secret U.S. Government entity that tracks embedded foreign agents. Cohen's empanadas illustrates Merry's wild imagination concerning a safety deposit company and an angry dismissed employee who vows to avenge the company.

Merry has shown himself to be quite adept as a master of the short-story form with his crisp, savvy yarns crafted to appeal to just about any audience and perfect to fill those idle moments while one rides a bus or waits in a doctor's office. And he is particularly to be commended for the historical nuances that surface in some of the stories that prod the reader to learn more about the themes of these stories. And yes, I did in fact do some research concerning some of the themes.