Winner of 2017 Best Book Award from the American Book Festival
A tortured child returns to the school that failed him
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 Bestselling Author
“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 Bestselling Author
“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