Since her husband’s murder two years earlier, life hasn’t been easy for Elle Harrison. Now, at the start of a new school year, the second grade teacher is determined to move on. She’s selling her house and delving into new experiences—like learning trapeze.
Just before the first day of school, Elle learns that a former student, Ty Evans, has been released from juvenile detention where he served time for killing his abusive father. Within days of his release, Elle’s school principal, who’d tormented Ty as a child, is brutally murdered. So is a teacher at the school. And Ty’s former girlfriend. All the victims have links to Ty.
Ty’s younger brother, Seth, is in Elle’s class. When Seth shows up at school beaten and bruised, Elle reports the abuse, and authorities remove Seth and his older sister, Katie, from their home. Is Ty the abuser?
Ty seeks Elle out, confiding that she’s the only adult he’s ever trusted. She tries to be open-minded, even wonders if he’s been wrongly condemned. But when she’s assaulted in the night, she suspects that Ty is her attacker. Is he a serial killer? Is she his next intended victim?
Before Elle discovers the truth, she’s caught in a deadly trap that challenges her deepest convictions about guilt and innocence, childhood and family. Pushed to her limits, she’s forced to face her fears and apply new skills in a deadly fight to survive.
"A nurturing and protective elementary school teacher is thrust into a web of unspeakable evil. Riveting, suspenseful and diabolical, Child's Play keeps the reader anxiously and eagerly turning the pages." ―Mary Jane Clark, New York Times best-selling author
" . . . thrill ride . . . packs a wallop. By the end, the body count of Child's Play adds up to eight (plus one rape), and delivers the shocking answer." ―Mystery Scene
"Surprising, dark, and even disturbing. A fragile and vulnerable young teacher faces a terrifying first day of school―and that is just the riveting beginning. Timely, provocative and sinister, this twisty story of family and friendship is not for the faint of heart." ―Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author
"What's behind these horrors culminates in helter-skelter chaos. Elle's home becomes the center of a tragic universe, since she 'attracted tragedy and death.' That combination is magnified many fold as bodies pile up. And readers are left enchanted by another 'Elle-oquent' thriller." ―Bookreporter
"The murder of the principal and a teacher on opening day at an elementary school, a terrifying scenario. In Child's Play Merry Jones showcases her unique skill in delivering this dark, very dark, thriller with a modicum of humor. The end, well, you won't see it coming amid the tortuous twists and turns. Merry Jones at her best!" ―Patricia Gussin, New York Times best-selling author
"For anyone looking for a riveting book you won't want to put down, this is a fine candidate.” ―Buried Under Books
"This is my favorite book so far this year. It sent me on several false leads as to who did what . . . and the reveal at the end scared the heck out of me! Rating: Five stars." ―Memes And Fiction
"5 Stars―A very can’t put down read. Thrilling!” ―C Mash Reads
"This mystery was one crazy ride!―5 Stars" ―Wall To Wall Books
"So much action packed into one book and I wanted more. If you want a great thriller this book is for you." ―Books, Dreams, Life
"What a wild ride! Merry Jones' Child's Play starts on the first day of school and gets ever more terrifying from there.The novel is a terrific mystery, with the sins of the past rising to swallow an entire town, but it triumphs as an examination of female friendship, how it nurtures and how it destroys. Not to be missed." ―William Lashner, New York Times best-selling author
"This story was darker than I was expecting, but oh so good." ―Ashley Dawn, author of Shadows of Pain
"Wow, Child's Play was so great. Merry Jones really writes a suspenseful book that kept me guessing all the way to the end. There are so many twists and turns that right when I thought I knew who was committing these murders, I was proven wrong. I love reading a fast-paced twisty suspense, so Merry Jones is definitely one writer I would love to read again." ―Fresh Fiction