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Child's Play: A Novel [Hardcover]

Carmen Posadas

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Book Description

July 27 2009

The internationally bestselling author pens a haunting psychological thriller involving cruelty, secrets, and murder at an exclusive private school .

Luisa, a renowned mystery writer, is beginning her new novel, a story of psychological suspense that centers on the suspicious death of a child at an elite private day school. The author has a close familiarity with her setting: her thirteen-year-old daughter, Elba, is about to begin her academic year at the same school that Luisa once attended, a school much like the one in the novel.

But as her work progresses, the line between art and life begins to blur. Deeply repressed anxieties bubble to the surface, and she worries not only for her daughter's well-being but also for her own. As her new novel unfolds, events on the page ring with a disturbing familiarity—a troubling symmetry that is compounded when Luisa runs into two former classmates whose children also attend the school. The unexpected meeting brings to light a gruesome event the three shared.

When Elba is implicated in the accidental death of a classmate, past and present, real life and fiction, become one. Convinced that her novel has set in motion an unspeakable horror, Luisa must find a way to stop it—before everything she loves is lost.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (July 27 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061583626
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061583629
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 15.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,136,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“Carmen Posadas, a prize-winning author who lives in Madrid, plays with expectations about a child’s capacity for innocence and evil in her new novel.” (New York Times)

“Child’s Play is a book to be savored, a book to be read and read again with pleasure.” (

“Child’s Play is a pungent brew of intellectual stimulation and deep thought about the rules that bind mystery writers and readers together, and why it is necessary to wrench them apart.” (

About the Author

The daughter of diplomats, Carmen Posadas grew up in Buenos Aires and Moscow. Her novel Little Indiscretions (Pequeñas infamias) won the coveted Planeta Prize, and her books have been translated into twenty-one languages. A prize-winning children's author and writer for film and television, she lives in Madrid.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "We're creating little monsters." Aug. 26 2009
By Luan Gaines - Published on
This is perhaps one of the most frustrating novels I have ever read. The premise was attractive, the idea of a child capable of heinous acts and a parent's dilemma in facing the truth. A 1950s movie comes to mind, although this novel is set in Spain. Luisa, a successful author, and her eleven-year-old daughter, Elba, have a somewhat contentious relationship, the daughter entering that phase where mothers are either malleable or not to be trusted. With feelings of guilt for a botched explanation of Elba's parentage, Luisa can't decide whether to be honest with Elba or become further trapped in the deceits she has spun thus far. The result is a purgatory of unresolved emotions.

Yet this lack of clarity serves Luisa's purpose, and the protagonist she is creating in her new novel, to temporize and ruminate about the truth vs. the fantasy that absorbs most of the woman's waking hours. Hiding behind her identity as a writer, Luisa appears constitutionally incapable of speaking honestly or following a rational thought. Instead, she is indulges in stream-of-consciousness ramblings that mix fact and fiction, idealization with fragments that never quite make a whole. Either this tale is genius or an exercise in self-indulgence masquerading as a novel. It takes good deal of tedious slogging through Luisa's imagination to get to the heart of the matter. Easier to have skipped to the final pages.

The facts are curious: four children, one dies suddenly, a twin boy. The survivors of this traumatic incident meet again unexpectedly as adults with their children and the scenario plays out again. In each case, a child is dead. Who is to blame? And rather than build a cogent story, the author drags the readers through Luisa's cluttered mind- therein the genius or the foolishness. For it is necessary to endure Luisa's endless ruminations to get to the crux of her concerns, an exercise that will be thrilling to some, torture to others.

Stream-of-consciousness writing is not for the faint of heart and I discover, not for the first time, that the reward is insufficient for the mental acrobatics required in navigating Luisa's real life vs. her alter ego, Carmen, in the book she is writing. Surely there is a fine line between these worlds. But to be technical, the plot device of novel-in-process and life is not borne out and simply becomes a ploy. The deeper into Luisa's consciousness I get, the less justification for a parallel plot. I sense a sophisticated, brilliant novelist at work, but have not the endurance to appreciate the subtleties of this particular challenge. Luan Gaines/2009.
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting relationship drama Aug. 4 2009
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
In a private school in Madrid four decades ago, Antonio Gasset drowns in the swimming pool. His twin brother Miguel never quite got over the final separation between them when they were just young students.

Now forty years later, Miguel meets his school-days' friends, Sofia Marquez and Luisa Davila. Sofia teaches at the school they attended while her class includes her daughter Avril, Luisa's daughter Elba and Miguel's son Miki; all tweeners. Miguel is in a nasty custody battle with his fourth wife and Luisa has changed from children's writer to cerebral mysteries. When Miki dies falling down stairs at the school, the novelist begins seeing murderers lurking at every corners of the school; no different than how she felt when Antonio allegedly accidentally died.

With all that is going on, CHILD'S PLAY lacks suspense as the intriguing story line has more of a philosophical loquacity to it than an action thriller. The key cast members are fully developed, but are introspective even when they debate what happened then and what is occurring now. Well written with a harrowing profoundness that is not for everyone especially those readers who prefer action, Carmen Posades provides an interesting relationship drama in which the ties that bind the living are death.

Harriet Klausner
3.0 out of 5 stars Childs Play April 21 2013
By lady g - Published on
Luisa is a best selling author of mysteries. She decides to enroll her daughter Elba in the private school she once attended. Luisa discovers her old friend Sofia will be Elba's teacher.Miquel another friend from long ago is the father of one of Elba's classmates. The three of them were somehow involved in the death of Miquel's twin brother Antonio many years ago.When another death occurs at the school which reseambles Antonio's . Here the book got a little confusing with trying to keep up with Luisa's new book and with Elba's story it is kind of hard to follow where the story is really going.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Games Children Play Can Be Deadly Oct. 1 2009
By J. B. Hoyos - Published on
There is a private school in Madrid where children learn reading, writing and murder. Best-selling mystery author Luisa Dávila has enrolled her twelve-year-old daughter Elba into the same private school she attended forty years earlier. This school is the setting for her latest novel in which detective Carmen O'Inns is investigating the murder of a child. At her daughter's school, Luisa encounters two of her former classmates. The three of them are bound together by a horrible secret involving the accidental death of a classmate. Soon, one of Elba's classmates accidentally dies. Separated by forty years, how are the children's deaths connected?

History keeps repeating itself and life and art are imitating each other in Carmen Posada's bizarre mystery "Child's Play" - an intricately plotted novel that asks us, "How well do we really know our children?" "Child's Play" is a fast-paced, fun to read novel that is very macabre. Posada herself has been compared to the great Agatha Christie of whom I was once a devoted fan. The similarities are incredible. Some of Dame Agatha's plots involved the murdering of children and murders committed by children. Numerous murders were perpetrated by those who seemed perfectly innocent. One of Dame Agatha's characters summed it up quite well when she said, "When no one suspects you, murder is easy." As pointed out by a friend of Luisa, there are many murders each year that are disguised as accidents.

In the foyer of Luisa Dávila's apartment, there are mirrors facing each other that create an endless series of reflections. The mirror is a symbol used constantly throughout "Child's Play." For example, the past and present mirror each other, children are mirror images of their parents and fictional characters in novels are mirror images of their authors. Sometimes it is best not to look into a mirror; the reflection can be shocking. The more Luisa searches for the truth behind the children's deaths, the more shocked and horrified she becomes. The reader feels great sympathy towards her as a single parent raising a difficult child at fifty two while writing a novel that is releasing suppressed feelings that threaten to drive her insane.

"Child's Play" has been adeptly translated from Spanish to English by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson. The novel was easy to read and I would never have known it was a translation if it hadn't been stated as such on the title page. "Child's Play" is highly recommended if you enjoy bizarre mysteries with strong elements of psychological horror. The ending is rather strange and unnerving, as were some mysteries penned by Agatha Christie. After reading "Child's Play," you will want to pay more attention to the games your children are playing. Some of them might be quite deadly.

Joseph B. Hoyos
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating novel Sept. 17 2009
By A. Planells - Published on
spooky-what if you thought your young child was a murderer?

This is a clever but sparkling read which deconstructs crime fiction while providing satisfying mysteries. The humour is at times ebony black and the pages are laced with astute psychological observation, as you would expect from a Jamesian devotee; the psychological eye trained not only on the characters, but also on author and reader.

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