The Quick Recap and Section-by-Section Summary for A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham are below. Spoiler warning: these summaries contains spoilers.
For a non-spoiler version of the plot synopsis, see The Bibliofile's review of A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham.
The two-paragraph version: Chloe's father confessed to murdering six teenaged girls when she was 12. Chloe was the one who found the evidence that linked him to the murder in his closet and turned it over to the police. Now, 20 years later, two more teenaged girls have been found dead. Chloe starts to suspect that her fiancée Daniel is a copycat killer since he also had a sister who disappeared under mysterious circumstances 20 years ago.
In the end, it's revealed that the murderer was Cooper, her older brother, and her father had protected him. Daniel had an abusive father, so he faked Sophie's disappearance and made it seem like one of the missing girls in order to protect her.
Chloe Davis is from a small Louisiana town called Breaux Bridge. Her father, Richard Davis, was convicted of murdering six teenaged girls over the course of one summer when Chloe was 12. Now, 20 years later, Chloe is working as a psychiatrist in Baton Rouge and is recently engaged to her fiancée Daniel Briggs. It's late May when a teenaged girl nearby, Aubrey Gravino, goes missing and her dead body is soon found. Shortly after, 15-year-old Lacey Deckler, one of Chloe's patients, is the second girl to go missing.
Back in July 1998, a 15-year-old Lena Rhodes was the first girl to go missing, followed by 5 more teenaged girls over the course of that summer. It was rumored that perhaps there were other missing girls, too. Chloe had known Lena well, and Lena seemed to have a crush on Chloe's 15-year-old older brother Cooper.
In present day, Chloe is brought into the police station to be interrogated by Detective Thomas since she was the last person to see Lacey alive. Afterwards, Chloe goes to visit her mother, Mona, at the assisted living facility. Mona attempted suicide after her father's sentencing, resulting in brain damage that left her unable to move or speak. Chloe and Cooper try to visit her occassionally. Today, Chloe tells Mona about the recent missing girls. She also promises to bring by her fiancée Daniel sometime.
Cooper disapproves of Daniel, but Cooper has always been overprotective of Chloe. Daniel works as a pharmaceuticals sales rep, and he travels a lot for work. Chloe recalls how refreshing it was that Daniel didn't know who she was (daught of the infamous murder) or anything about the Breaux Bridge murders when they met. Daniel also had a sister, Sophie, who went missing around that same time in 1998.
A few days later, Lacey Deckler's body is found in the alleyway outside Chloe's office. When Chloe sees the body, she recognizes that a bracelet that Lacey had been wearing is missing. When Chloe later asks Detective Thomas about Aubrey, Chloe pieces together that Aubrey was missing a necklace that matched with the earring they found on her.
Back in 1998, the killer had also been taking pieces of jewelry from each of his victims (though this wasn't public knowledge). Chloe recalls how she'd found a box of jewelry in her father's closet and recognized one of the pieces as belonging to Lena. Her mother had taken her to the police station to tell the Sheriff. Chloe had also told them about how she saw her father behind their house with a shovel one night. Later that night, her father was arrested for murder. He eventually confessed as part of a plea deal where he was also required to disclose the location of the bodies.
In present day, Chloe agrees to talk to Aaron Jansen, a reporter from the New York Times who has been contacting Chloe lately about a story he's writing about the 20th anniverary of the Breaux Bridge murders. As they talk, Aaron suggests that the recent murders could be the work of a copycat killer who is obsessed with the Breaux Bridge murders.
Chloe knows that only her family, the police and the victims families knew about the missing jewelry in connection with the Breaux Bridge murders. She begins to suspect that perhaps Lena Rhodes's father, Bert, could be the copycat killer since he had always been a little off. Lena once had hinted that her parents would do things like lock her in her room. When Chloe asks Aaron for help looking into Bert, it turns out that he has been in and out of jail for the last 15 years for various offenses like DUI and assault.
As Chloe does some research on Bert, she learns that he's now living in Baton Rouge and runs a home security installation company. As she looks at the page, Daniel walks in on her and assumes that Chloe is feeling unsafe because of the recent murders and wants to install a home security system. Daniel ends up calling the number on the website before he leaves for a work trip, and Bert shows up at their door. When Chloe talks to him, he tells her how much he hates her family, but ends up installing the system and leaving. (Shortly after, Detective Thomas looks into Bert at Chloe's request, but ends up certain it's a dead end.)
Soon, Chloe's home alarm accidentally goes off, and Chloe anxiously goes into the closet to look for Daniel's gun. Instead, she finds the necklace that matches with Aubrey Gravino's earrings in his closet. Right after, there is an emergency regarding Chloe's mother at the assisted living facility. Chloe ends up with Daniel and Cooper at the facility with her mother Mona. When Chloe has a moment alone with Mona, Mona communicates with Chloe by tapping her finger and indicates that she knows something about the recent murders. She then taps out the letters "D" and "A" before they are interrupted.
When Chloe returns home, the necklace is missing. Chloe then tells Daniel that she's going away that weekend. She lies and says it's a bachelorette party to New Orleans. Instead, Chloe meets up with Aaron at a motel 40 minutes away to continue their investigation. Chloe shows Aaron some receipts indicating that Daniel has been spending time in the area where her father is incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.
She takes Aaron to go talk to Dianne Briggs (Sophie and Daniel's mother) to ask about Sophie's disappearance under the guise of being a reporter. Dianne doesn't know Chloe is, since she's not in touch with Daniel. Dianne says that Daniel left after high school and never came back, and she suspects Daniel had something to do with Sophie's disappearance. As they look in on Daniel's childhood room, Chloe finds a stack of clippings about the Breaux Bridge murders, and she knows he was lying about not knowing about it when they first met. Before they leave, Dianne gets upset when she recognizes Chloe's ring as a ring that once belonged to Sophie and was a family hierloom, and she demands to know why Chloe has it.
The next day, Chloe awakes to learn that Riley, her friend's stepdaughter is missing. By now, Chloe is certain that Daniel is the killer. She knows that the killer has been killing the girls and then leaving the bodies somewhere to be found a few days later. As she thinks of where Daniel could be keeping these bodies, she remembers that she told him about how her childhood is still sitting, empty in Breaux Ridge.
Chloe, armed with Daniel's gun, drives back to her childhood home and finds Riley drugged on unconscious on the floor. She's shocked to find Aaron there (who says something about being forced to do this), and she ends up shooting him. Later, Detective Thomas tells Chloe that Aaron is really someone named Tyler Price, a high school dropout from Breaux Ridge.
Back at home, Chloe confronts Daniel about Sophie, accusing him of killing her. Daniel denies it. He says that his father Earl was an abusive drunk and that he helped Sophie disappear after his father turned his attentions on Sophie. He admits to knowing about the Breaux Bridge murders and says that he wanted to make people think she was one of the missing girls. Sophie is alive and living in Mississippi.
Daniel also admits to visiting Chloe's father Richard n prison, since there were parts of the story that didn't line up for him. In doing so, he learned that Richard wasn't the killer.
When Cooper comes over, Chloe confronts him about being the real killer all those years ago and about the recent murders. She realizes now that Cooper planted the necklace in her house to incriminate Daniel. He's been wanting to separate her from Daniel because he knew Daniel suspected something.
Cooper admits to all the killings, plus one more (Tara King) who was the actual first girl. It turns out their father found all the jewelry hidden under his floorboards but Cooper convinced him not to say anything. However, Chloe ended up finding it in the closet. Chloe also realizes her father must have told her mother the truth before he was arrested, and her mother kept the secret but it caused her to unravel. As for Tyler, he was just a lonely person who Cooper convinced to help in his plans.
Chloe has spiked Cooper's drink, so he gets drowsy and is soon arrested. Chloe's father is released from prison. The book ends with Chloe going to visit Sophie in Mississippi to return her ring to her.
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In the prologue, the narrator discusses learning to fear when she was 12 years old.
Chapters 1 – 3
Chloe is psychiatrist. She meets with a 15-year-old patient, Lacey Deckler, and talks about Lacey’s self-harming associated with her father leaving them. Chloe is understanding. Chloe says her father left when she was 12 and her brother Cooper was 15.
Tonight, Cloe gets a call from Aaron Jansen, a reporter with the New York Times. Aaron says that he’s writing a story about Chloe’s father, who is still in prison, since it’s the 20th anniversary of the missing girls, and he asks if he can talk to her about him over a cup of coffee. Chloe turns him down.
Chloe grew up in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, a town with a population of less than ten thousand. In July of 1998, the summer when Chloe was 12, teenaged girls from the town started to go missing. As the weeks progressed, a total of six girls were missing by the end of summer.
In present day, Chloe calls in a prescription for Xanax for “Daniel Briggs” and then picks it up under his name. She then drives home.
Chapters 4 – 5
Chloe takes one of Xanax pills as she exits her car and goes in the house. She’s suddenly bombarded with a loud “SURPRISE” as she walks into her surprise engagement party. Her fiancée Daniel, a pharmaceuticals sales representative, is there. They met at Baton Rouge General Hospital on Cloe’s last day there after Chloe had just quit her job to go into private practice. Her friend Shannon, a former co-worker, tells her about how her 15-year-old stepdaughter Riley is grounded right now because she and her husband Bill caught her sneaking out.
When Chloe sees Cooper, Cooper comments that he thinks it’s a little fast for her and Daniel to be engaged, since they’ve only been dating for a few month. Chloe is defensive. As things escalate into an argument, they’re interrupted by Daniel, who thanks Cooper for his help in setting up the party. Hearing that, Chloe apologizes to Cooper for arguing with him. They then discuss who’s turn is it to go to visit their mom this weekend, and Cooper volunteers to go.
Chapters 6 – 8
The next morning, Chloe wakes up with a hangover. Meanwhile, Daniel is getting ready to leave for a work trip to New Orleans. After he leaves, Chloe takes care of some wedding planning. The wedding is coming up soon on July 23rd, two months away. It’s to be held at Cypress Stables, a picturesque location with a restored barn at the edge of the land. They went to visit and met the owner’s granddaughter.
She stops when she sees a news report on the television that Aubrey Gravino, a fifteen-year-old girl from Baton Rouge, is missing. Aubrey’s last seen location is Cypress Cemetery.
Chloe is reminded of how in 2012, 15-year-old Lena Rhodes had been the first girl to go missing. Three months later, by September, Chloe’s father had been arrested for kidnapping and murdering the six girls — Lena, Robin, Margaret, Carrie, Susan, Jill. Chloe remembers the police coming to their house and seeing their father dragged away as their mother cried.
Chapters 9 – 10
In present day, after seeing the news about Aubrey, Chloe goes for a drive to calm her thoughts. She find herself close to Cypress Cemetery and goes in, where a search party has formed along with police and journalists. A woman near Chloe finds a diamond and pearl earring which matches the earring that Aubrey was wearing on her MISSING poster. When Chloe sees it, she reaches for it and is chastised by an officer nearby. She sees that Aubrey is also wearing a matching necklace on the poster.
Thinking back to her childhood, Chloe had thinks about how she knew Lena before she went missing. Cooper had been popular in school, a jock who was a wrestler, with people constantly flocking to him. Chloe recalls how Lena, a troublemaker with a curvy body who wore too much makeup, had flirted with him. At the Crawfish Festival in May before Lena’s disappearance, she had shown Cooper her firefly belly-button charm, and she’d offered Cooper a sip of her drink. Chloe had sipped it instead and ended up drunk on vodka the rest of the day. Chloe remembers wanting to be like Lena.
Chloe recalls her father staring at Lena that day. She also remembers seeing that firefly charm hidden away in her father’s closet four months later.
In present day, the discovery of Aubrey’s earring upsets Chloe. She drives to her office, where she keeps her (illegally self-prescribed) pills, and she pops an Ativan to calm herself. She also sees that she has some voicemails from Aaron, the reporter. He asks to speak to Chloe and mentions that he’ll be reaching out to her father.
Chloe hasn’t seen or spoken to her father, Richard (“Dick”) Davis, in the past 20 years. He has currently served 20 years out of a 6 consecutive life sentence. She recalls how during the trial, they’d been visited by Theodore Gates, her father’s defense attorney.
That day, Theo had told them that he’d negotiated a plea deal. Theo had said that because of the physical evidence and because Richard had been seen talking to the girls prior to their deaths, that the death penalty was a real possibility otherwise. There was also some talk that there might’ve be additional dead girls even before Lena, such as Tara King. Finally, Theo had said that as part of the plea deal, Richard was required to show them where the bodies were.
After that, they knew he was guilty. On the stand, he had said that he did it because there was a darkness within him that he couldn’t fight off any longer.
Since then, in an attempt to understand why he’d do something like this, much blame had been placed on his family. They suggested that Richard envied Cooper and the girls he had around him. They also noted how Chloe had started dressing provocatively (influenced by Lena), perhaps inciting her father’s desires. Chloe’s mother was accused of prompting his behavior due to her cheating on him with various men, including with Bert Rhodes (the father of Lena Rhodes). After the sentencing, Chloe’s mother had attempted suicide.
In present day, Chloe sees a news alert that Aubrey’s body has been found.
Chapters 12 – 14
Chloe stays in bed all weekend. The following Monday, she sees a text from Daniel that lifts her spirits a little.
As a psychiatrist, Chloe realizes she is suffering from some form of PTSD from it all. In high school, Chloe had been brutalized by the other kids for being Richard Davis’s daughter. She’d been determined to get out of the town, and she’d gone to college at LSU. There she’d tried to be anonymous, which she hadn’t been able to be as a child. For a long time, Chloe struggled with dating and had a hard time trusting people.
Later, working at the hospital, Chloe had finally found group of friends and a sense of community. The day she’d left, she’d met Daniel and he’d given her his card. After she started her own practice, she’d been lonely, and she was finally tempted to call him.
Daniel didn’t know anything about the murders or Chloe when they met, but she’d eventually told him everything. Daniel had then told her that his own 13-year-old sister, Sophie, had gone missing in 1998 (the same year when the other girls went missing) when he was 17. Chloe thinks about how Daniel is protective and almost a little possessive over her, similar to the way Cooper is.
In present day, Chloe heads to work, and she sees that Melissa, the receptionist, is crying. Melissa tells her it’s because a second girl has gone missing — Lacey Deckler, her patient. In response, Chloe asks Melissa to cancel her appointment for the day and head home. On the news, it describes how Lacey’s mother dropped her off for an appointment (with Chloe) on Friday and afterwards Chloe was supposed to walk to a friend’s house. However, she never arrived.
Chloe thinks about how in 1998, the second girl to go missing, three weeks after Lena, was Robin McGill. Robin was quiet and reserved.
In present day, Chloe is soon interrupted by the presence of two officers — Detective Michael Thomas and Officer Colin Doyle — who want to question her about Lacey’s disappearance.
Chloe recalls how as a child, she’d been brought to the police station by her mother after finding a box in their home with incriminating evidence after the girls had started going missing. Chloe had been reluctant to show the Sheriff, not wanting to get her father in trouble.
In present day at the police station, Chloe confirms with the police that Lacey is a new patient of hers, and she says that Lacey left around 6:30. She declines to tell them what they talked about during the appointment, citing doctor-patient confidentiality. Chloe also recognizes Officer Doyle as the officer who yelled at her for touching the earring (belonging to Aubrey), but when he asks if they’ve met before, she says no.
Chapters 15 – 16
Afterwards, Chloe wants someone to talk to, so she drives to Riverside Assisted Living to see her mother, Mona. The receptionist, Martha, greets her. Inside, her mother is being tended to by Sheryl, a new nurse. Mona has been living here ever since her suicide attempt where she tried to hang herself with her father’s leather belt. Chloe and Cooper had stayed with an aunt after that. The suicide attempt led to brain damage, so Mona is still unable to really move or speak. They still have Chloe’s childhood home, but it sits there, abandoned.
Still, Chloe thinks she understands what she’s saying some of the time. Today, she tells her mom that she’ll bring Daniel by sometime. Then, she confides her mom that there have been more missing girls lately and that she’s feeling a sense of déjà vu about all of it.
They’re interrupted by Sheryl, who checks in on them and mentions that Mona received another visitor this week. Chloe is alarmed when Sheryl describes the man, and Chloe checks the guestbook to confirm that it was Aaron Jansen.
In response, Chloe angrily calls Aaron, but ends up agreeing to meet with him since it’s clear he won’t leave her alone until she does. Twenty minutes later, she meets Aaron at a coffee shop nearby. He admits that he went to see Mona mostly because he thought it would get her attention.
Aaron also tells her that the angle on his story has now shifted in light of the new missing girls. Chloe tells him there’s no connection between what happened back then and what’s happening now, but Aaron insists there must be some type of connection. Aaron suspects that there’s a copycat killer.
Back in 1998, the police had been struggling to understand the killer’s M.O., but had been unable to identify one because they couldn’t find the bodies and didn’t know where the crime scenes were. It wasn’t until Chloe found the box hidden in their closet that they had a lead.
She thinks back, again, to that meeting with the Sheriff as a 12-year-old. Chloe had reluctantly shown him the contents of the box, containing Lena’s firefly charm, Robin’s pearl necklace, Margaret Walker’s diamond earrings, Carrie Hollis’s sterling silver bracelet, Jill Stevenson’s sapphire ring, and Susan Hardy’s white gold hoops.
That day, she also ended up telling the Sheriff that she’d seen her father looking at Lena and that she’d seen him one night behind their house, holding a shovel.
In present day, Daniel interrupts Chloe’s thoughts. It’s now been four days since Lacey went missing. He asks Chloe how her week was, and she doesn’t want to admit to him that she spent the whole week self-medicating herself into a stupor. Instead, she tells him that she’s chosen caramel for their wedding cake.
Chapters 18 – 19
The next morning, Chloe thinks over her conversation with Aaron. Aaron thinks that this copycat killer, unlike Chloe’s father, wants “credit” for his work. He wanted the body of Aubrey to be discovered, which is why he dumped the body in the cemetery where she was last seen. He also suspects that one of Chloe’s patients was the second victim because the killer may be a little obsessed with her father and his murders.
Chloe soon gets a call from Detective Michael Thomas, informing her that Lacey’s body was found in the alleyway behind her office. He asks Chloe to come down to look at the body to see if she notices anything, given that she was the last person to see Lacy alive as far as they know.
When Chloe arrives, they tell her that the cause of death was strangulation. The detective says that they previously checked the alleyway, so she was likely moved here afterwards, and the coroner confirms she must’ve been moved. They say that the garbage men found the body. They’ve also detected that Diazepam (Valium) in her system, which indicates that she was drugged since Chloe knew that Lacey wasn’t on any medication at that time.
As Chloe inspects the body, she notes that Lacey had been wearing a bracelet, which isn’t present on the body.
Chapters 20 – 21
Back in 1998 after Chloe had made her revelations about the jewelry to the Sheriff, she and her mother had returned home and waited for the authorities to come arrest Richard. The Sheriff had urged them to stay at the station and wait, but her mother had wanted to go home. Chloe hadn’t wanted to go back inside, but her mother had talked her though it.
In present day, Chloe is anxious thinking about the similarities with the 1998 situation regarding the missing jewelry. Aubrey and Lacey were also killed in a similar manner, which indicates that the same person killed them. Chloe also wonders if the killer wanted her to find the bodies. She notes that Aubrey’s body showed up just after she had joined the search party and that Lacey’s body was placed behind her office.
When Daniel calls, he asks how it went, and Chloe is vague on the details because she’s too emotionally exhausted to explain everything. Instead, she calls Aaron and asks to meet. When she gets there, he shows her a photo that was snapped at the cemetery last week which clearly shows that Chloe was part of Aubrey’s search party. He points out that she hadn’t mentioned she was there. Chloe reassures him that she’s not trying to hide anything.
As they talk, Chloe tells him about Lena. As a kid, Lena had looked out for her and taught her to put on makeup. She says that Lena had a bad home life and so she liked spending time at the Davis’s house instead. She also says that Lena encouraged her to push boundaries and that one time they broke into Cooper’s room with a library card to steal weed, but he caught them in the act. As she recites this stories, she remembers how Lena had accidentally mentioned that her parents sometimes locked her in her room.
Next, Chloe fills Aaron in on seeing Lacey’s body and what happened that morning, including the connection regarding the missing jewelry. The link with the missing jewelry in the original case was not known to the public. Instead the people who knew about it were limited to the police, her family and the victims’ families.
Chloe mentions that there was always something “off” about Lena’s father, Bert. Bert always hated her father. Aaron adds that copycat killers typically will either “revere or revile” (have great respect for or hate) the original killer. So, it’s possible Bert hated her father so much that it turned into an obsession.
Chapters 22 – 23
Chloe recalls seeing Lena’s parents, Bert and Annabelle Rhodes, at a school production of Grease once. Lena had been playing Sandy. They’d sat in the audience with Chloe’s parents. She also recalls how in the summer of 1998, her mother had stared having a steady stream of male visitors over, including Bert. It wasn’t until after her father’s arrest that Chloe found out about her mother’s affairs.
When Bert learned Richard was the killer, he’d raged on their front lawn, and Cooper had pulled Chloe inside. Cooper had then gone outside to chase Bert off. Bert later came back and threw a rock through their window and slit the tires on her father’s truck.
In present day, Chloe does some research on Bert. She learns that he runs a security company based in Baton Rouge called Alarm Security Systems that does home security system installations. As she’s researching, Daniel asks what she’s up to, but Chloe isn’t in the mood to discuss it. However, he grabs her computer and sees what she’s looking at. Chloe doesn’t explain, and instead Daniel thinks that she’s looking into security systems because she’s scared that the killer is going to come after her. He tells her to get it installed if it will give her peace of mind.
Afterwards, Chloe texts Aaron what she has learned about Bert. Aaron does some research that reveals that has been in and out of jail for the last 15 years for offenses like public drunkenness, driving while intoxicated and assault. His wife also filed for divorce after a domestic violence complaint claiming that he strangled her.
Aaron encourages Chloe to go to the police with what they’ve learned, but Chloe disagrees, saying they need more concrete evidence. Aaron senses that Chloe sees to be afraid of the police. Chloe says that she just knows that once she talks to them, that they’ll start digging around in her life, which she’s not sure if she’s prepared for.
After she gets off the phone, she’s shocked to find Bert Rhodes standing on her doorstep.
Chapters 24 – 25
Chloe stands there, frozen, but Bert merely asks for Daniel Briggs, saying that he received a call requesting a security system to be installed. Thinking that Bert doesn’t seem to recognize her, she lets him in. However, as he goes through the bottom floor of the house setting things up, Bert makes it clear that he knows exactly who she is.
Bert tells her how he hates her family and how they all make him sick. He talks about how Chloe’s there living her perfect life in her nice house while his daughter is dead.
When he eventually finishes the installation, he leaves. Chloe notes that the system is installed, but she’s doubtful that he did it properly. She finally decides that she needs to tell the police what’s going on for her own safety.
Chloe calls Detective Thomas and asks to meet. At the station, she finally tells him about her connection to the 1998 case, which he hadn’t realized before. She also tells him her theory about the copycat killer and about the missing jewelry from both the cases. Chloe says that she thinks Aubrey was likely wearing a necklace (the one she’s wearing on her poster) that matches the earrings they found, but that the killer probably kept it as a memento, along with Lacey’s bracelet.
She also tells him about her suspicions about Bert. She says that he has a huge grudge against her family and that he would have known about the missing jewelry. Detective Thomas is skeptical, but agrees to look into it. However, as Chloe leaves, she suspects she has merely directed more of his suspicions her way.
Back at home, Chloe pops a Xanax. Cooper shows up, and she tells him about her new security system. When she mentions that Daniel is away on another work trip, Cooper comments that perhaps she should be with someone who is more present. Cooper also notices the open bottle of Xanax and becomes concerned about her, saying that Daniel’s job as a pharma rep who has drugs around all the time isn’t good for her. They get into an argument about her marrying Daniel. It ends with Cooper setting his spare key on the counter and leaving.
When Chloe falls asleep, she dreams about the night she saw her father with a shovel out behind their house, except instead of seeing him with the shovel, she sees herself.
Chloe is awoken by the sound of the house alarm going off. She runs to the closet to look for Daniel’s gun. However, instead of finding the gun inside the box, she finds a necklace matching the one that Aubrey was wearing on her MISSING poster.
Chapters 27 – 30
The alarm turns out to be a false alarm since Daniel didn’t know how to disable the alarm. However, Chloe doesn’t know what to do or say about the necklace she found in their closet.
The next morning, Chloe goes to look at the necklace again, but now the box is no longer there. She wonders if he re-hid the box. She also thinks about how Lacey had been drugged and how Daniel has easy access to drugs.
When she goes downstairs, Daniel has a surprise planned for her today. However, Cooper calls saying that their mother’s care facility thinks that their mother is dying because she’s refusing to eat. As Chloe rushes out the door, Daniel insists on going with her. They soon meet with Doctor Glenn, who informs them that Mona has lost ten pounds in the last week. Dr. Glenn thinks that perhaps she has stopped eating because she is ready to die.
Chloe asks to have a moment alone with her mother. She asks her mother if her hunger strike has to do with what she told her about the new cases of missing girls and whether her mother knows something about it. To Chloe’s horror, her mother responds with a series of taps that seems to indicate an affirmative answer.
To try to let her mother communicate with her, Chloe grabs some scrabble tiles and tells her mother to tap if she’s on the right letter. Her mother confirms that the thinks the current murders are connected to 1998. Then, she asks how to prove it and her mother starts spelling out “D” and “A” before they are interrupted by Cooper and Daniel.
Afterwards, Daniel insists that they continue with his original surprise. Chloe starts to worry about what’s happening since she’s been wondering if she really knows Daniel. It turns out that he has planned for them to go kayaking.
As they start rowing, Chloe realizes that she’s met Aubrey Gravino before. She was the granddaughter of the woman showing them around Cypress Stables, where there wedding is being held.
Back at her office the next morning, Chloe pulls up an image of Aubrey and confirms what she remembered. She’s in the office early since she’s not sure if she trusts Daniel or not and doesn’t want to be home.
When her secretary Melissa comes in, Chloe asks when Daniel arrived at their engagement party (since that was the night Lacey was abducted). Melissa says that she, Cooper and Shannon arrived on the earlier end and that Daniel arrived only about 20 minutes before Chloe did. Soon, Chloe also does some investigating on Daniel’s last work trip to New Orleans. According to the conference hotel, he hadn’t stayed there. Chloe suspects that perhaps some of his other frequent work trips have been coverups for other activities.
Chapters 32 – 34
Back at home, Chloe tells Daniel that she’s planning on having a bachelorette party with some friends from Friday to Sunday. Daniel is supportive, saying that he thinks it’ll be good for her since she’s been so stressed lately. However, there’s actually no trip, and Chloe has another plan entirely. Meanwhile, Chloe has also been trying to figure out the combination for his safe, and she finally guessed that it was “72318” — the numbers corresponding to their wedding day.
Before she leaves on her fake trip to New Orleans, Detective Thomas drops by. He informs her that Bert’s thinking of taking out a restraining order against Chloe. Bert is saying that Chloe lured him to her house under false pretenses and then tried to interrogate him. Moreover, Detective Thomas says he’s concerned that this isn’t the first time Chloe has started coming up with conspiracy theories and started stalking people, and he references someone named Ethan Walker.
Chloe tells Detective Thomas that Ethan was her college boyfriend, who she dated for 8 months. Chloe recalls meeting Ethan at a house party back in college. They hit it off that night and talked for hours. The summer they were together, her friend Sarah had gone AWOL. After a few days, Chloe had gone to Sarah’s room to look for clues and found a huge amount of blood on flipside of Sarah’s mattress.
Chloe had also started noticing that Ethan seemed flustered when Sarah’s name came up, and Ethan ended up breaking up with her that week. However, Chloe was still determined to see if there’s was evidence that he was involved in Sarah’s disappearance. She end up breaking into his home, only to find him there and sleeping with Sarah. Apparently, they’d been hooking up for a while and it was some type of power-play for Sarah. After the break-in, Ethan took out a restraining order on Chloe, and it turned out the bloody mattress was from a miscarriage that Sarah had.
Finally, Detective Thomas tells Chloe that seems to distrust men and then convince herself that they are murderers because of it. He acknowledges that this is clearly because of her father’s history. Detective Thomas then tells Chloe that perhaps she should get some professional help. Detective Thomas says he knows Chloe abused prescription drugs in the past (which can cause paranoia, etc.), but Chloe lies and says she doesn’t do that anymore.
Finally, Detective Thomas tells Chloe that they know she was at the cemetery that day and that her DNA is on the earring. He warns her to stay away from crime scenes in the future. After he says that, Chloe fears telling him about the necklace she found in the closet. She thinks that he won’t believe her and that it will merely make her seem more suspicious.
Chapters 35 – 37
Later that day, Chloe leaves on her fake trip to New Orleans. She takes her duffle bag and checks into a motel about 40 minutes away from her office, and she meets up with Aaron who she has asked to come.
Aaron asks what they’re doing, and Chloe says they’re going to go talk to someone daughter went missing in 1998 around the same time. Her death didn’t quite fit the pattern, but Chloe thinks perhaps that killer is the new copycat killer. When they arrive, the woman introduces herself as Dianne Briggs and she says her daughter’s name was Sophie (so, this is Daniel’s mother).
Chloe does not disclose that she’s engaged to Dianne’s son, instead she pretends to be Aaron’s colleague. Chloe knows Daniel is not in contact with his parents and that they aren’t invited to the wedding. As they chat with Dianne, she mentions that she has a husband Earl, who has a temper. She also that she has a son, Daniel, that she’s not in contact with who also has a temper. She says that she suspects Daniel may have had something to do with Sophie’s disappearance. She says Daniel left after he graduated high school).
Dianne lets them go up to Sophie and Daniel’s old rooms, and Chloe is curious about Daniel’s bedroom. However, then she sees a stack of newspaper clippings about the Breaux Bridge murders (which Daniel had claimed he didn’t know about when he met Chloe).
As they’re about to leave, Dianne stop her and demands to know where she got her engagement ring. She then says that the ring was Sophie’s ring and it’s one that’s been in her family for generations. Panicked, Chloe runs away and drives off with Aaron as Dianne yells after her.
Afterwards, Aaron is furious with Chloe about keeping this information from him. Chloe apologizes. She also shows him that she’s taken stuff from Daniel’s briefcase. She shows him that Daniel had access to drugs and that he kept receipts from everywhere he’d been. She thinks they can use the receipts to track his location at various times. The receipts show that Daniel had frequently visited an area called Angola, which is where Chloe’s father is housed at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.
As they talk, they end up getting intimate with each other and sleeping together. Afterwards, Chloe says she’s thinking about going to see her father. Aaron offers her some pills to help her sleep, she drifts off to sleep.
When Chloe awakes, she realizes she somehow managed to sleep through an entire day. She remembers that her ring is still in Aaron’s car (since she took it off after she learned it was Sophie’s), and she sees that Aaron left his press pass in her room. She also sees she has a barrage of missed calls. She calls Shannon back and learns that Shannon’s stepdaughter Riley is missing.
Chloe also hears from Daniel who by now knows that Chloe is not at a bachelorette party. He says that he realizes she’s going through some stuff and wants to do it alone, so he is clearing out of the house tomorrow morning. He says that he loves her. Chloe drives back home, but the house is already empty. She checks the security footage, and she sees that he was there half an hour ago. In the footage, she watches him holding the necklace that she’d seen in his hands.
Feeling certain that Daniel is the killer, Chloe rack’s her brain trying to think of where he could possibly be keeping these victim’s bodies. Finally, it hits her that he could be keeping them at her childhood home in Breaux Bridge.
Chapters 41 – 42
Back in her hometown for the first time, Chloe pulls up to her old home. She recalls how she’d told Daniel about how they still had the house, but it was just sitting there, empty.
In the house, Chloe finds Riley’s body. She appears to be drugged, but not dead. Then, Chloe hears someone say her name. She’s surprised to find Aaron there.
Aaron says Chloe had told her about this house, so he thought he’d check here for Riley. Chloe accepts this answer at first, but then she realizes he had no way of knowing Riley was even missing. Then, she remembers she still has his press badge. When she looks at it closer, she realizes that it’s fake.
Finally, she asks him who he really is. Before he can explain more, Chloe shoots him and Aaron’s body slumps over.
Chapters 43 – 45
A short while later, Chloe sits in an interrogation room with Detective Thomas, Officer Doyle and a Breaux Bridge policewoman. They ask her to recite the story of what exactly happened. She says that a man going by the name “Aaron Janson” told her he was a reporter and that she ended up sharing with him the details of the case, etc. She also tells Detective Thomas about her suspicions about Daniel.
Detective Thomas tells her that Aaron’s real name is Tyler Price. He’s a high school dropout from Breaux Bridge. He says that they know that Tyler had been cemetery with Aubrey’s search party and they found various items of jewelry on him that they believe belonged to the victims.
Detective Thomas also tells Chloe that Riley is alive, and he agrees to check out the situation regarding Daniel.
After Chloe leaves, she is still determined to go talk to her father. However, when she gets home, she sees that Daniel is there. He says that he never left and that he thought she’d be more likely to come back if she thought he wasn’t home. Chloe accuses him of killing Sophie, but Daniel says that he didn’t kill her.
Daniel then explains how his father Earl had been an abusive drunk. When Earl started going after Sophie, Daniel knew he had to help his sister get out of there. They decided to try to fake her death to make it seem like she was one of the missing girls from the Breaux Bridge cases. Now, Sophie lives in Mississippi.
Chloe asks why he never told her, and he says it’s because he didn’t want her to know that he had recognized her. She also ask him why he’s been visiting her father.
Chapters 46 – 47
Daniel tells her that after she’d told him everything about the Breaux Bridge murders, he had started looking into things and realized he didn’t think Chloe’s dad was the original killer. As a result, he’d been visiting Chloe’s father to try to ascertain the truth.
Later that night, when Cooper drops by, Chloe confronts him about knowing Tyler Price and killing all those girls 20 years ago. Chloe says that she knows that Cooper has been trying to push her away from Daniel because he knew that Daniel was onto him. Cooper planted the necklace in her closet. He knew Tyler Price from home — a “lost, lonely person” — convinced him to help with his plan.
Finally, Cooper admits that the jewelry that Chloe found in the closet all those years ago had been collected by him. Their father had found the stuff hidden underneath his floorboards and hadn’t decided what to do about it. Then, Chloe had found it and brought it to the police. He also admits that Tara King was his first kill, and he had wondered what it would feel like to kill someone.
He also says that Lena found out about Tara so he had to get rid of her. After that, Cooper hadn’t wanted to stop. When his father found out, Cooper tried to convince him not to turn him in. In retrospect, Chloe suspects that her father told her mother what he knew that last day before the police came, and her mother decided to keep it secret. However, doing so caused her to unravel. The other day at the assisted living home, her mother must’ve been tapping out “DAD” to try to get her to go talk to her father.
In present day, Chloe tells Cooper that she needs to tell the police, though Cooper tries to convince her just to leave it alone. When Chloe insists that she can’t do that, Cooper moves towards her. However, he starts to feel drowsy, since Chloe has spiked his drink with the same pills that Aaron had used on her. She realizes now that the person she saw holding the shovel all those years ago was her brother and not her father.
Today is July 23, what should have been Daniel and Chloe’s wedding day. By now, Cooper is in jail, and her father is getting out soon. On television, her father apologized for trying to protect Cooper and the deaths that resulted. Chloe thinks about how some days she still feels angry at him for it.
Chloe shows up at the house of Sophie Briggs. She’s surprised to learn that Daniel has been staying with Sophie since he moved out. Sophie offers to go get Daniel, but Chloe tells Sophie that she’s just here to return her ring, since it’s a family heirloom. Chloe then leaves Sophie’s house.
What is unclear is what actually happened to Chloe and Daniel?