Monday, October 7, 2019

Guest Post with Merry Jones - What You Don't Know

Photo Credit: Bill Eckland

Merry Jones is an award winning author who has written humor (eg. I LOVE HIM, BUT...), non-fiction (eg. BIRTHMOTHERS), and dark suspense (eg. the Zoe Hayes mysteries, the Harper Jennings thrillers, and the Elle Harrison suspense novels). Now, with her twentieth book,WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW, she's entering the domain of domestic psychological suspense. Jones taught college writing courses for fifteen years, and leads seminars, appears on panels at writing conferences, and, with fellow members of the Liars Club, cohosts a monthly writers' coffeehouse and the weekly Oddcast, a podcast devoted to writing and other creative endeavors. 

Jones's work has been translated into seven languages and has appeared in magazines, such as American Woman and Glamour. Jones is a member of the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Philadelphia Liars Club. The mother of two and grandmother of one (so far) lives with her husband in Philadelphia, where she is an avid rower on the Schuylkill River and a member of Vesper Boat Club. Visit her at


Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Filles Vertes Publishing (October 7, 2019)

Language: English
ISBN-10: 1946802409
ISBN-13: 978-1946802408

Praise for MERRY JONES

"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 on Child's Play

"...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 on Child's Play

"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 on Child's Play

"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 on Child's Play

"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 of After the Fall on Child's Play

“In Jones's fast-paced third Elle Harrison novel (after 2014's Elective Procedures), the Philadelphia second-grade teacher believes that she failed Ty Evans, a former student who later confessed to killing his abusive father, but she hopes to redeem herself with his younger brother, Seth, now enrolled in her class. With Ty newly released from juvenile detention and clashing with their alcoholic mother, Seth's home life is unstable. When the draconian school principal and a humorless teacher―both of whom treated Ty cruelly―are murdered, Elle is torn between belief in his innocence and her desire to protect Seth. Meanwhile, the realtor charged with selling her house becomes increasingly aggressive, and when someone drugs and rapes Elle, she doesn't know whether to suspect the realtor or the killer. The identities of the rapist and murderer are obvious well before Elle or other characters identify them. Still, Elle's complex feelings toward her late husband―who was murdered while they were separated―add nuance and depth." ―Publishers Weekly on Child's Play

Not in any special order.
1. In What You Don’t Know, my favorite is Tommy. He’s complicated. Although he’s victimized and bullied, he manages to follow his interests and retreat into a safe world of insects and photographs. Although he often bullies his sister, inflicting on her the same kind of meanness he endures, he is actually a gentle soul.

2. Molly in the Zoe Hayes mysteries (The Nanny Murders, River Killings, Deadly Neighbors, Borrowed and Blue Murders) is a precautious, fun-loving child, growing from four-ish to six-ish. Her mother unintentionally exposes her to sociopaths, danger, murder and mayhem, but Molly takes it in wide-eyed stride. If Mom tells her to climb out a window and up a drainpipe, she climbs out and up. Both my daughters think I based Molly on them. They are both right and wrong. But Molly is a tough and ingenious little person, even practices her karate on a bad guy.

3. Hank Jennings, husband of protagonist in the Harper Jennings thrillers, SUMMER SESSION, BEHIND THE WALLS, OUTSIDE EDEN, WINTER BREAK, IN THE WOODS. Hank is, oh my, the strong silent type. Not by choice. He fell off the roof of their home and hit his head, resulting in a brain injury that causes aphasia, a speech disorder. He uses words out of order, or speaks in clipped phrases that make ambiguous sense. Once a distinguished geologist, he has to reinvent himself and discover his inner resources. Though depressed, he clearly retains his strength, both of body and of character.

4. Madame Therese in Elective Procedures is a psychic with a small but entertaining role. She predicts doom and danger for protagonist Elle Harrison, but she is so blithe and dark as to be almost comical.

5. Charlie, in The Trouble with Charlie, is dead when we meet him. His soon-to-be-ex-wife, Elle Harrison, finds his body. We never know for sure if he is haunting Elle, but we accompany her as she discovers dark truths about him, scolds him and conducts passionate arguments with him. In the end, she finds out that Charlie was really—Well, I don’t want to spoil it. But he might have had legitimate reasons for what he did, might not have been as bad as she comes to fear.

6. Harper Jennings, protagonist in Summer Session, Behind the Walls, Winter Break, Outside Eden and In the Woods, is a female Iraq War vet. She suffers from PTSD, and is in therapy to help her deal with it. But she’s also happily married, going to grad school to study Archeology, teaching and going on digs. In other words, she’s managing to live with what is sometimes a horrible and debilitating condition. In order to write about her, I studied Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the various treatments available. I came to admire Harper’s grit and determination, and the way she copes with recurring flashbacks that follow her, popping up at inconvenient moments. Harper is tough and vulnerable, resilient and tender. She still follows procedures she learned in Iraq, eg, conserving water by showering in 90 seconds or less.

7. In What You Don’t Know, I consider young Nora and adult Nora as almost separate, though closely related characters. I’m particularly fond of young Nora, who is just nowlearning about cruelty and its consequences. She’s testing her ability to succeed in the brutal social cliques of middle school, discovering her peers and their careless power, experimenting with boundaries and loyalties, and struggling to survive.

8. Ty Evans, in Child’s Play, is a young man recently released from Juvenile Detention. He’s spent years there for killing his father. Now that he’s released, local murders start occurring, and Ty is linked to all the victims. We learn in the course of the book that Ty is protective and loving, willing to make big sacrifices for others. What he confides to Elle Harrison (his former teacher) about life in “juvie” is disturbing. What he endures afterwards is heartbreaking.

9. Jerry, in Child’s Play, is the realtor helping protagonist Elle Harrison sell the house she shared with dead husband Charlie. Jerry is ambitious. He’s hungry for whatever he can grab, from properties to profits, whiskey to women—especially an available widow like Elle. He eyes her, dogs her, tails her, uses her key to appear uninvited. When she fires him, his ego can’t take it. He’s invested too much time and effort, isn’t equipped to accept rejection. He’s a lonely desperate man who, despite his self-proclaimed professional success, too easily implodes.

10. Annie in What You Don’t Know could easily be labeled a mean girl. Maybe she is. But beneath her veneer of confidence and power is fear. She’s afraid of losing her spot as most popular girl in the grade. She’s terrified her parents will find out what she’s been up to with boys and alcohol, even razors and bras. She wields power, making pacts with her sisters to keep secrets from her parents, but she never trusts that she’s loved and secure, and is forever proving that she can dominate other girls, attract older boys at will, take risks, prevail. Annie is a needy, deeply unhappy girl, doing whatever she can to prove that she’s wanted and in charge.

Nora Warren hides her dark side well because she's had years of practice.

The wife of a lawyer and mother of two girls, she slides under everyone’s radar, never revealing what she really is—a murderer.

At least, she feels like one.

Nora’s plagued by the secrets surrounding her older brother’s suicide decades earlier. Yet she lives as though he never existed.

Now, in her thirties, Nora suspects her husband, Dave, is having an affair with her friend, the wife of a leading US Senate candidate. When her friend’s body is discovered—another apparent suicide—Nora is left with haunting secrets and choices that dredge up her grim nature, the side of herself that no one ever sees. Will she act on her impulses? Mustn’t she?

How far will Nora go to protect the life she has built for herself?

You can purchase What You Don't Know at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MERRY JONES for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive one of Merry’s previous titles (CHILD'S PLAY or 
SUMMER SESSION) and What You Don’t Know Shirt. 

OCTOBER 11th FRIDAY A Court of Coffee and Books REVIEW 
OCTOBER 12th SATURDAY Movies, Shows, & Books REVIEW 
OCTOBER 13th SUNDAY Two Points of Interest REVIEW


Post a Comment