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Mervyn vs. Dennis

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A dark British comedy full of social commentary

Deep in debt, Mervyn Kirby gets a job he doesn't want by pretending to be racist. His new boss Dennis Lane thinks he's found a kindred spirit. When Mervyn confesses he's not really racist, Dennis thinks it's just part of the act.

Day by day, to Mervyn's horror, Dennis worms his way into Mervyn's private life. Despite his fears, Mervyn is his new job pays well but he despises Dennis and everything he stands for.

How far will Mervyn go to free himself? How far will Dennis go to become friends? Will they settle their differences or end up killing each other? And why are so many shifty people carrying pineapples around town?

271 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2016

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About the author

Niels Saunders

12 books72 followers
Niels Saunders wrote his first book when he was sixteen and hasn't stopped since. Born in Cambridge, he grew up in Devon and has lived in Canterbury, Brighton and Tokyo. He loves to write in many genres including fantasy, thriller and comedy. His short stories have been published in Ambit and Chapman magazines and he was awarded a distinction for the Creative and Critical Writing MA at the University of Sussex. When he's not writing or reading, you'll find him smoking meat, watching films or playing video games. His fantasy series, The Legend of Saru, will be released monthly this year.

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5 stars
16 (32%)
4 stars
19 (38%)
3 stars
7 (14%)
2 stars
6 (12%)
1 star
2 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Richard Bunning.
Author 21 books89 followers
April 3, 2017
A book stuffed with irreverent comedy, funny in a way that few since the 1970s and 80s have dared to be. A writer who is prepared to stick two-fingers at the stifling blanket of multicultural non-offensiveness that has been allowed to slowly suffocate comedy, and so cultural diversity. The 1970s were the highwater mark of freedom to mock, which is an exacting measure of freedom of speech. Yes, the weak need to be guarded, but they don’t need to be protected by a righteous piety which filters out everything that could give any possible offense to any Tom, Dick or Titty.
So it is great to read a writer that is prepared to be rude, even if he completely overdoses on the comedy in what leaves, and in certain atypical social groups enters, the arse. And yet, even in this book there are groups that the author chooses not to offend. There is still an element of protectionism towards certain left of centre ‘BBC type standards’ of middle-class self-righteous piety. Perhaps that is genuinely the ground Saunders rests on, like some latter day Ben Elton, or just perhaps this author still compromises comedy to protect certain of his sacred cows.
But all in all, and especially considering the now comparative weakness, the containment, of British humour, this book absolutely deserves five stars. Writing like this helps give me confidence that the tide can be turned against the political correctness and the sanitisation of public thought. The ‘private eye’ of diverse all has been shown a crack in the door- a hope for escape from bland multicultural sterilization. In this writing, our everybody-cultured society had been found a little air. Not all fresh air exactly, as, as I said, Mervyn vs. Dennis is far too heavily focused on bottom humour, but certainly a wind of unfettered, socially penetrating, liberating humour.
Saunders’ writing is good, his comic timing is excellent. Now all he needs to do is put a cork in his craphole jokes and instead write to take the piss out of his own values as well as those of those that are even now almost beyond the fringe of cultural piety.
Not suitable reading for those that think they have a social right not to be offended. More pineapples and exotic fruitcakes, please, Mr. Saunders.
Profile Image for Eishinas.
29 reviews1,016 followers
November 4, 2016
Superbly crafted.
Depicting a unique relationship of employer and employee through explicit plot that is both poignant and hilarious, author Niels Saunders will give his readers an engaging ride through life’s paradox situations. When Mervyn Kirby gets easy money making job of a video game tester, he attracts the attention of a racist- overpowering ‘bossy’ boss ‘Dennis Lane’ who is not only all set to boss around Mervyn’s office hours but will also invade his privacy and personal space by giving him a ‘living hell experience’ by his interfering and imposing nature.
‘Mervyn vs Dennis’ is smartly narrated humorous tale that moves at a breakneck pace, combined with a writing style that provides vivid mental picture of the believable characters that are always just a cubicle away. Using the natural instincts of a smart storyteller author Niels has skillfully embedded a simple captivating story line with a little mysterious twist to be discovered by his readers that is bound to keep them at the edge of their seats till the very end.
‘Mervyn vs Dennis’ is a read with diverse appeal and would be appreciated by any reader who has a taste for humor and interest for a well thought out story line. This masterful hilarious tale of a charismatic hero is definitely worthwhile.
Profile Image for Sharienne.
56 reviews
August 30, 2016
There is one thing that we are promised in life if you live long enough to be employed -- a boss you loathe. Dennis is the uber awful boss. He uses humiliation and intimidation as his sole management skill set. He insists on absolute fidelity to incomprehensible rules. And excruciatingly, his personality drips with the poison of equal-opportunity hatred. He despises them all.

Mervyn, is the employee we all wish we could have been. He despises Dennis so much that he doesn't even try to hide it. His rudeness backfires though and convinces Dennis that Mervyn's overtures to his coworkers is an elaborate ruse to hide his own spit-flecked, rabid tirades. Mervyn's new colleagues greet him with frigid distance. He is so hopelessly unqualified for the job of video game software tester that the other employees, most of whom have slaved in hellish conditions just for the opportunity to test games, resent.

Eventually the coworkers warm a bit after Mervyn befriends one of the employees particularly repugnant to the hated boss.The relationship with his boss remains complicated. Mervyn repeatedly expresses contempt to his hypochondriac, panphobic boss and yet Dennis continues to play paramour to his imagined protege. 

In the real world i.e. not the office, Mervyn is a frustrated author and pushes himself mercilessly to complete his third unpublished and likely unread novel. The software testing is just a day job. However the continued harassment from his boss pushes enough buttons that a final showdown with Dennis becomes an attractive option.Through a complicated series of events Mervyn finds himself living with the literal contents of a bar. A party is the obvious solution to his problems with his caricature of a boss, his desired love interest and his much-needed floorspace.

The party includes Dennis' boss who enlivens all gatherings with white powdered mountains dumped on the nearest mirror. Yes, this party sports a commercial enterprise of free booze a pharmacy's worth Columbia and Afghanistan's finest and a hate spewing boss whose taste in music would bore a Lawrence Welk audience.

The "you-can't-make-this-stuff-up" feeling in the novel continues. Honest, I haven't revealed anything that will make the book feel like an also-read.

I realize that a book with all this happening can sound like a joke setup at macro length. In order to get some perspective I took several days after finishing the book to write this review to see if my opinion changed. It hasn't. It was fun and funny and oddly heartwarming. I know, I can't believe it either.

I received a free copy of this book from ReviewSt in return for an honest review.
2 reviews
July 13, 2016
I really enjoyed this book, it is laugh aloud funny, which is rare, but it is more than just a funny book, it is easy to read but there is a lot of social commentary, with some dark undertones. you end up actually feeling sorry for Dennis at the end, and I guess that is the aim of the author. I particularly enjoyed Clyde, he was sleazy but quite likable. I cared about Mervyn, the main character, and wanted him to succeed. I would compare this to books by Tom Sharpe and Carl Kiaasen, I look forward to future books by this author.
44 reviews
August 1, 2016
Really interesting book!

This book was actually fascinating; although set ten years ago there was so much concerning racism and homophobia it could have been written in 2016. Besides all that it was often hilarious and totally lol funny:) I was mildly surprised that I read it all in one go. Although there were other things to do, I couldn't put it down. The relationships between Mervyn and Dennis, Mervyn and Clyde, Cecil, Sara, Adam were all totally enthralling. If you enjoy well written stories with quirky characters and interesting plots, this book is for you.
1 review2 followers
August 17, 2016
Strange and unexpectedly touching

This book was a odd, very explicit and I did not expect to like it as much as I did. I'm glad that the strangeness of the book sucked me in and kept me reading because at the end, I could not help but feel real affection for the main character. I look forward to more by this author.
Profile Image for Sadie Forsythe.
Author 1 book265 followers
October 3, 2016
Man oh man, that was horrible in the best way possible. I mean, there's racism, sexism, abuse, orgies, drugs, alcoholism, multiple sanitation and mental health issues, and a gross misuse of tropical fruit. But most of the really objectionable stuff, like having to read several diatribes against minorities, is an active engagement of the subject. The reader never loses sight of the fact that the main character is as disgusted as the reader. And for all it's in-your-face xenophobic wretchedness the book is genuinely funny.

My criticisms are that it's heavy on bathroom humor at times and I'm not a huge fan of including the writing of the book in the narrative of the book. But in the end, I was really pleased with this read.
Profile Image for Pam.
17 reviews
August 24, 2016
This book kept me interested and it was a fast read. Not my usual type of book, but I am glad I read it. I liked the way everything came together in the end.
Profile Image for Angelika Rust.
Author 21 books35 followers
January 24, 2018
I got this one having read and greatly enjoyed Grand Theft Octo by the same author. First things first: If you're going to read them both, read them the other way around. GTO is a teeny bit better than M vs D. Which doesn't mean that this one isn't an utterly brilliant book. Mervyn's weird, actually abusive relationship with his boss Dennis somehow revolves around the question how Hitler's Germany came into being - in his own turnabout way, the author actually answers that question in the end - and develops among different angles, some comical, some sinister, some simply shocking, until disgust turns into pity and you're left questioning just about everything.
Profile Image for Dan Cloute.
1 review
September 29, 2016

Full of cracking humour and sparkling dialogue containing wry, dark and comedic observations sometimes of a wonderfully rude nature, this book tells the story of the relationship between hard up Mervyn and his mad as a balloon new boss Dennis.
Desperate for cash Mervyn applies for and gets a job testing games at Ziggurat in an office run by the disturbingly bigoted and ultra allergic Dennis. Hilarious conversations aplenty ensue between these two characters and throughout the book Mervyn works at uncovering and revealing to all at Ziggurat, who have been working under Dennis' iron rod of insanity for too long, the true depths of their boss' terrifying and shady ways. Dennis has largely managed to hide his aggressive extreme of character but Mervyn is determined to bring down this watercress munching racist and rid him from his life.
There are plenty of great characters in this book including the wear your crazy on your sleeve Adam Braithwaite, Ziggurat's company executive, like Malcolm Tucker with the addition of charm. Everything that leaves this spectacularly likeable pillocks mouth is gold. There are others too, Mervyns misguided racist friend Clyde, his troubled brother Cecil and Dennis' wife/sister Glenda are all added to this fishy soup of splendour. There's also a mystery to be solved involving Dennis and our protagonist is hot on the case, his suspicion alerted after one to many sightings of men carrying pineapples around his home town of Brighton!
It's well written and never dull; Mervyn vs Dennis is for anyone who enjoys humour, often dark with a twist of mental and with an unusual but clever conclusion which will reveal a bizarre and disturbing league which has very little to do with sport, although balls are involved. Your hesitate before buying your next pineapple. Cracking stuff.
Profile Image for Aimer Boyz.
Author 4 books9 followers
October 27, 2016
I almost didn't make it past the first chapter of Mervyn VS Dennis, but Niels Saunders writes with such humour and originality that I couldn't abandon the story.

There are layers here and plot twists and downright surprises. You only see the trail of breadcrumbs Saunders has dropped after you fall off the mountain.

On the main floor, this is a book about a man trying to pay off his debts at a job he hates. One floor up, you have a fledgling office romance. The third floor is flooded with friends and family complications. All the while, in the deep, dark basement absesses of humanity swell and throb; racism, hatred, fear, sadistic mental torture.

Is there a message here? Is Saunders trying to help us help ourselves...or should we all just boycott pineapples?

I had a lot of reactions to this book, but bored wasn't one of them :) I only hope Saunders gets back to his laptop soon, I have to know what happens to Mervyn's brother.

489 reviews41 followers
October 18, 2017
Don't let the jar of peanut butter on the cover fool you, this is an adult book. It is also not a clean book, which is why I gave it two stars instead of three. The main story was great, with memorable characters, but, there were too many moments that made me really uncomfortable.

The book shows how wrong you can be when you judge them on the way they present themselves on the outside. We all have a part of ourselves that we don't want others to see. When Mervyn meets Dennis, a snap judgement is made, causing Mervyn to try and expose him. With a character as out there as Dennis, you have to wonder if he is just a compulsive, racist liar, or if things are not always as they may appear on the surface.

As much as I didn't like the very adult moments, I do believe that at least some of them were needed to tell the story. In a way, I think Niels Saunders makes readers uncomfortable on purpose. Opinions of the characters change during those moments.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review.

Author: Niels Saunders
Publisher: Imperial Press
Publication Date: 5 July 2016
Profile Image for Vnunez-Ms_luv2read.
846 reviews18 followers
September 1, 2017
Very good book. This book deals with an employee and his boss and his views on various subjects which includes: racism, alcoholism, and mental health issues to name a few. Great social commentary and gives you something to think about. The main characters were well developed and I actually felt like I was witnessing some of the scenarios. Thanks to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for the ARC of this book in return for my honest reveiw.
Profile Image for Bonnie Dale Keck.
4,680 reviews52 followers
March 20, 2017
Kindle Unlimited, but giveaway win from LibraryThing. Liked it but not loved it. Saw some critique that the 'brit terms' were confusing, which I didn't think so, just didn't luv the book but definitely liked it.
452 reviews
February 10, 2017
Mervyn wants to be a writer and works at it but needs other employment until he can get published. (I often felt the author was drawing on his own experience.) On one of his job interviews where he decides he doesn't want the job he pretends to be a racist to turn off the boss but ends up getting hired as the boss thinks he has found a kindred spirit. And so his horror begins.

At times this book is clever, witty, and ironic but so much of it resorts to toilet and bodily function humor. I think that is a shame as this author writes well. I think he'd have broader appeal if he toned that side of his writing down.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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