SynopsisIn The Night Swim, Rachel Krall is a true crime podcast host who ventures into the town of Neapolis to cover a rape trial. Local celebrity swimmer Scott Blair is accused of raping a 16-year-old girl, Kelly Moore. Rachel reports on the trial through her podcast and does some external investigating into the facts on her own as well. Meanwhile, Rachel begins to receive letters asking for her help to find justice for a second rape that occurred in Neapolis nearly 25 years ago. As the trial proceeds, Rachel hopes to find justice for both the victims. And it just might involve uncovering old secrets buried long ago.
Detailed SummaryQuick Plot Summary
Rachel Krall is a true crime podcast host who goes to a small town, Neapolis, to report on a trial. Scott Blair is accused of raping of a 16-year-old girl, Kelly Moore. Meanwhile, Rachel starts receiving letters from a woman named Hannah, asking for help regarding the rape and murder of her older sister, Jenny Stills, in Neapolis 25 years ago. (The book intersperses letters from Hannah and Rachel's podcast episodes throughout the story.)
As Rachel investigates and the trial begins, she learns that Kelly had gone to her friend Lexi's house for a party, but was kicked out for kissing Lexi's ex-boyfriend. A boy from school, Harris Walker, walks her home and takes her to a playground to hang out. (At trial, it's alleged that Scott told Harris to lure here there). Harris leaves momentarily and Scott shows up. Scott is a minor celebrity because he's a swimmer training for the Olympics. Scott takes Kelly out for pizza and then later they go to the beach. Depending on who you ask, she is either raped or they have consensual sex.
Meanwhile, Hannah writes to Rachel about Jenny's case. She and Jenny's mother, Hope Stills, had a bad reputation because her daughters have different fathers. One day some boys from the beach take an interest in Jenny. They offer Jenny (16) and Hannah (9) a ride home from the beach, but kick Hannah out and rape Jenny. They later come back for more. Hannah sees it and tries to stop them, but it still results in an incident where Jenny dies. Afterwards, Jenny's name in town becomes synonymous with being a slut.
Rachel finds out that in town people believe that Jenny simply hit her head on some rocks and drown. She finds out at the morgue that her injuries are inconsistent with an accident, but there was no police investigation. Incidentally, the night of Jenny's death, two other teen boys were killed in a car accident in town. Meanwhile, as the trial proceeds, Kelly begins her testimony, but is too traumatized by the cross examination. Her parents decide not to let her finish testifying. This means they will likely lose the case.
Rachel notices that there's a similarity in the two cases. In Hannah's story, one of the boys, Bobby wraps her up in a shirt to hide her. In Kelly's story, she wakes up to find a short wrapped around her. Rachel remembers seeing a man do the same thing to a seagull. She confronts the man, "Vince Knox" who admits that his real name is Bobby Green. He was one of the boys (though he didn't rape Jenny). He was sent to jail for driving the car in the accident where the two boys died. He befriended Vince Knox in jail (who died in prison), so he took on Vince's name to give himself a new start. The next day, "Vince"/Bobby testifies in court that he heard what happened between Scott and Kelly and that it was rape.
Hannah is also finally ready to meet. The gas station attendant that Hannah had gone to for help 25 years ago is now dying of lung cancer. He has nothing left to lose so he finally admits that he saw a boy, now a man, running off from the scene of the crime the night of Jenny's death. It was Dan Moore, father of Kelly Moore (his connection between the two cases is a coincidence).
Hannah asks Rachel to meet, where Hannah also plans to confront Dan. Dan confesses that, that night, Bobby had attacked them when the boys threatened Hannah, and Bobby was injured. They left an injured Jenny on the beach initially to take Bobby to the hospital, but he drove back and threw Jenny into the water, where she drowned. Afterwards, he drove off and got into the accident, killing his friends. Dan called his father, Russ Moore, who was Chief of Police in Neapolis. Russ made it look like Bobby was the driver, and told Dan to lie and say he was home that night. Russ ensured there would be no investigation of Jenny's death. Bobby was sent to jail for the deaths of his friends. Jenny's death was ruled an accident.
In the end, Scott is found guilty of sexual assault and sexual battery (though insufficient evidence for rape). Dan makes a getaway, but then kills himself. The book ends with Rachel leaving town and her producer talking about a case for the next season of the podcast.
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