Study Guide

In The Woods

In The Woods Summary

In 1984, in Knocknaree, a charming little town near Dublin, Ireland, three kids romp and play in the woods. Green trees. Singing birds. Scampering wildlife. Oh—and probably a murderer, since two of these three kids go missing and are never found. The third escapes whatever fate befell the others, emerging from the woods with bloody sneakers and a torn t-shirt.

Two decades later, another girl is found dead in the woods. She is beaten with a rock and left on a sacrificial stone. And—what a coincidence—the lead detective on the case, Rob Ryan, is the boy who escaped the woods twenty years ago. He's going by his middle name now to distance himself from the Adam Ryan of the past. (Like Superman thinking no one will recognize him if he wears glasses.)

With his partner, Cassie Maddox (no, they're not sleeping together—Rob pinky swears he's not interested in her that way), Rob investigates the murder of Katy Devlin. Who would want to kill this twelve-year-old girl with a passion for dance?

Was it her father, Jonathan, who leads the Move the Motorway campaign, which is trying to, well, move a motorway that is going to demolish the Knocknaree woods? Was it Mark, the archeologist who is a little too attached to the woods, and whom Rob thinks isn't above human sacrifice? Was it a mysterious man in a tracksuit who was allegedly seen at the site by Damien, another archeologist, and Jessica, Katy's twin sister? Was it one of the landowners who stands to profit greatly from the motorway, who hired an assassin to threaten the Devlin family?

Was it Maggie Simpson?

There's also the possibility that the present-day case relates to the 1984 disappearance of Rob's best friends, Peter and Jamie. Rob tries to remember what happened over twenty years ago, and his repressed memories put him on the trail of a gang rape he witnessed in the woods. Jonathan Devlin and his friends raped Sandra Scully. Unfortunately, due to the statute of limitations, Rob and Cassie cannot prosecute this crime… But could Sandra have killed Katy as revenge?

Rob, Cassie, and their new teammate, Sam O'Neill, pull all-nighters going over all the details of this complicated case. And then, one night, Rob and Cassie sleep together. Remember how he said they were totally platonic? He lies. He lies a lot.

Rob basically acts like Angel after sleeping with Buffy, except for the whole murder spree and trying to raise an ancient demon part. He treats Cassie terribly and starts avoiding her, which isn't very good teamwork in a murder investigation.

Finally, a missing trowel leads them to Damien Donnelly, the nerdy archeologist, and he confesses to murdering Katy. But why did he do it? It turns out he was manipulated into it by Katy's psychopathic older sister Rosalind. This girl is ice cold. Cassie launches a plan to catch Rosalind, wiring herself and going to talk to the girl and record her confessions.

Cassie succeeds, but it turns out that Rosalind's testimony is inadmissible. The girl is only seventeen, not eighteen. Rob isn't the only one who lies. Rosalind lied about her age to him… and he believed her.

Since Rob pretty much screwed up everything—his career, his friendship—he loses it all. He gets demoted, and Cassie ends up transferring, getting engaged to Sam, and never speaking to Rob again. Rosalind basically gets off scot-free while Damien gets life in prison. And Rob is left with only himself and his memories. He takes one last trip to the woods before it's bulldozed (the Move the Motorway campaign proving unsuccessful in moving said motorway) and tries to put his past behind him.

  • Prologue

    • The prologue is like a little movie. Let's zip over a quaint Irish town "only a few miles from Dublin" (Prologue.2)—there are blue skies, green grass, houses, and trees.
    • The little town is intended to be a suburban paradise.
    • It doesn't pan out this way, though, and due to the poor economy there, the families languish more than they thrive.
    • We watch three children climb over a wall and go into the woods, which is "all flicker and murmur and illusion" (Prologue.5).
    • We're told they're "running into legend" (Prologue.7), and that "these children will not be coming of age" (Prologue.8), all of which sounds like very bad news.
  • Chapter 1

    • Our narrator wants to "warn" us: He is a detective so, as he says, "I crave truth. And I lie" (1.4).
    • He tells us what happened in that little village from the prologue, Knocknaree, on August 14, 1984.
    • Three children—Jamie Rowan, Adam Ryan, and Peter Savage—all age twelve, disappeared in the woods.
    • When searchers found Adam Ryan, he had bloody socks, and the inside of his shoes were bloody, which means that the shoes were filled with blood when he put them on.
    • His T-shirt had four parallel tears, but Ryan was uninjured, though in a traumatized and near-catatonic state.
    • This being the 80s, there was no DNA testing, so they tested the blood's type: A positive. Ryan was also A positive, and so was Germaine (a.k.a. Jamie); Peter, however, was type O. Investigators wondered if the blood could have come from a fourth person.
    • Peter's wristwatch was found, but neither Peter nor Germaine ever were.
    • Now, in the present, Adam Ryan, who goes by Rob so people don't know he was the missing boy in the woods, works for the Murder squad, along with his partner, Cassie Maddox.
    • Even though she's a woman, and women are supposed to be terrible cops (at least according to all the male cops), Cassie is a good partner.
    • Here's how they became friends:
    • When Cassie was new, Rob found her stranded outside of work. Her Vespa had broken down, and it was raining; he "fell in love with her" (1.33) because she was hopeless and helpless.
    • He made fun of her for calling the throttle the "thingy" (1.33), and she immediately gave him attitude. "Ohhh, I've always dreamed of a knight in shining armor coming along and rescuing little me! Only in my dreams he was good-looking" (1.34). In Ireland, that is called an o'snap.
    • Rob says he "stopped falling in love with her and started to like her immensely" (1.35).
    • They've been friends since.
  • Chapter 2

    • Cassie and Rob are hard at work cracking a murder case.
    • Okay, actually they're playing Worms on his computer.
    • They are the only people in the office when O'Kelly, the chief, barges in with a case: a murder in Knocknaree. Archeologists found the body.
    • This is the first time Rob has been to Knocknaree since the incident in the woods. (Warning: We're going to try and say in the woods as much as possible during this summary.)
    • Rob and Cassie ride out there to see the body… wait for it… in the woods.
    • Dr. Hunt, the site director, passes them off to Mark, a guy who often does tours of the site.
    • Mark tells them that they found a Neolithic settlement in the woods, and other artifacts from almost a thousand years ago.
    • Despite the finds, the government is going to bulldoze the site for a motorway in a month.
    • He leads them to the body, which has been placed on a ceremonial stone.
    • For a second, Rob thinks it's Jamie, his friend who disappeared, ahem, in the woods twenty years ago.
    • It's not. This girl has only been dead a day.
    • Sophie, the crime-scene tech, gives them the rundown: ten to thirteen years old; head smashed in; ligature marks on the neck; probably raped; probably killed somewhere else, then dumped; there's a bloody rock nearby.
    • There's also a red hairclip shaped like a strawberry nearby, but it doesn't seem to be this girl's. Who could it belong to? Rob thinks he knows…
  • Chapter 3

    • Rob phones Missing Persons and comes up with a possible ID for the dead girl in the woods: Katharine "Katy" Devlin.
    • Cassie and Rob set up a temporary office in the shed of the archeological site and start interrogating.
    • First, they talk to Damien, the teen who found the body in the woods.
    • Rob hates him for being "adorable [and] helpless" (3.63), a quality he only likes in women, so he lets Cassie lead the interrogation.
    • Damien says he found her on the rock, and "shook her" (3.69) to see if she was still alive. She wasn't.
    • Cassie asks if Damien ever saw a stranger on the site, and he says yes—a man in a dark blue tracksuit.
    • Next, they interview Melanie Jackson.
    • Mel says the girl was a local who used to hang around the site a lot.
    • She says she's pretty positive the body wasn't there yesterday; a dead girl on a sacrificial stone is the kind of thing you notice in the woods.
    • After lunch, Rob and Cassie go to talk to the Devlin family, and as they're talking to Mr. Devlin, Katy walks in.
    • Oh wait—it's her twin sister, Jessica, who seems to have some sort of developmental disability. Margaret, their mother, breaks down sobbing when told that Katy was found dead.
    • Another girl comes in, Rosalind, Katy's older sister.
    • With the whole family present, Rob and Cassie tell them everything they know about Katy's death.
    • According to her family, Katy was a good girl who liked to dance.
    • When asked what his relationship with his daughter was like, Jonathan, the father, gets angry that they're accusing him of hurting her.
    • They assure him they're not accusing him of a thing.
    • He says he received three threatening phone calls, because he's part of the Move of the Motorway campaign, to, well, move the motorway away from the dig site.
    • Rob and Cassie search her room for clues before leaving. Cassie's only comment: "There is something deeply, deeply fucked up in that house" (3.196). Her words, not ours.
    • They return to the site, where reporters have gathered. They're asking questions about satanic cults and Druids, but Rob and Cassie give no comment.
    • Sophie calls them over to look at one more thing: a makeshift campsite in the woods, including the remains of a campfire and a giant red blotch…
    • But it's not blood. It's red wine. Spill the wine and… kill that girl?
    • There's also a home-rolled cigarette and a long, fair hair—Rob remembers that Mark smokes rollies.
    • They decide to talk to him tomorrow. Until then, it's time to dance…
  • Chapter 4

    • Okay, they're not dancing. They are, however, going to the Cameron Dance Academy to talk to Simone Cameron, Katy's dance teacher.
    • There's a poster of Katy at the dance studio for a fundraiser to send her to the Royal Ballet School.
    • Rob and Cassie talk to Simone, who tells them that Katy was a good dancer, but not a strong child, noting that "She was ill very often" (4.17).
    • Despite that, she was "sérieuse" (4.26), which Rob helpfully translates into English for us: "Serious" (4.27). Phew—thanks for the hand.
    • Simone says that one day Katy said, "I'm not going to get sick anymore" (4.19), and she hasn't been ill since. Wow. Some willpower…
    • Simone also says Mr. Devlin was very supportive, and that Mrs. Devlin "isn't very intelligent" (4.34). Burn.
    • When asked if anyone was jealous of Katy's talent, Simone says that no one was crazy enough to kill her.
    • Rob and Cassie speculate about Munchausen syndrome and the medical history of Katy's weird sisters.
    • They wonder if they were being abused, or perhaps the mother was making them sick—Munchausen by proxy.
    • Back at the station, Rob digs through the files from the disappearance in the 80s.
    • Sure enough, Jamie was wearing a hairclip decorated with strawberries when she disappeared in the woods twenty years ago, and it's just like the one at the scene in the woods right now.
    • Dun dun dun… the cases might be connected.
    • Rob and Cassie give O'Kelly the rundown, and they add that there may be a link with the 1984 case, so they'll do some blood work.
    • They get assigned a team of floaters and another teammate, Sam O'Neill, to help them out.
    • Rob really wants O'Neill because his uncle is a mid-level politician who can help with the motorway angle. Vroom vroom. Let's go.
  • Chapter 5

    • Rob goes home to the apartment he shares with Heather, a girl he moved in with because he "fancied her" (5.2.).
    • They don't get along that well, though, and she annoys him.
    • He pretends to be sick so she'll leave him alone, and Rob goes through his old case file, which was handled by detectives Kiernan and McCabe.
    • Turns out that Jonathan Devlin grew up with Rob. He's mentioned in the witness statement, alongside names of his friends, Cathal Mills and Shane Waters.
    • It doesn't look like he was interviewed about Jamie and Peter's disappearance, though.
    • Rob wracks his brain to remember them, and he thinks they were the teens they called the bikers. He often saw them in the woods, and they wore Metallica and Anthrax shirts every day. He can't remember which was Devlin, though.
    • The next morning, Rob picks Cassie up because it's raining.
    • He gives her the old case files and she flips through them, catching a statement by Mrs. Pamela Fitzgerald, saying that the boys were "courting" (5.32). Who were the girls being courted?
    • Rob thinks one of them may have been named Sandra.
    • They grab a newspaper and see that Katy is front-page news.
    • At the station, they ask Sam to investigate the motorway angle, and they call a conference with all the floaters. Operation Vestal, the name assigned to the case, has begun.
    • Next step: time to watch the autopsy. Hope you haven't had lunch yet.
    • Dr. Cooper gives them the rundown: Katy was hit twice, first lightly, but the second blow likely knocked her out; the killer was probably left-handed; Katy struggled; she was suffocated with a plastic bag; and she was raped after death with a wooden implement, maybe a broom handle. Yikes.
    • They decide to proceed by interrogating Mark Hanly (the guy who gives tours), but unlike most people, he is not happy about being taken away from work.
    • Cassie manages to finagle a cigarette off him on the ride to the office.
    • And while Rob thinks Mark might be the killer, he also thinks that would just be too easy. Since we're barely one hundred pages in, we'll have to agree.
  • Chapter 6

    • Rob and Cassie argue with Mark for a really long time.
    • He's wearing gloves, but because of blisters, not because of defensive wounds from the teeth of a murdered girl or anything.
    • He didn't know Katy was Devlin's daughter, although he had met Rosalind before.
    • They finally get Mark to confess to something, though: that he camps out in the woods sometimes.
    • Mark wants the place to remain sacred because it's the home of so many Bronze Age religious artifacts.
    • The red wine spill was from him, a "libation" (6.73) to the ancient gods—he says he was with Mel the night of the murder, however.
    • But the night before, he says he saw a man in the woods. A man with a flashlight.
    • Rob has to leave the interview room when someone comes in and tells him that he has an important phone call.
    • It's Rosalind Devlin, and she wants to ask him something.
    • He says she can come by tomorrow afternoon.
    • Instead of returning to the interrogation room, Rob goes to rummage through more evidence in the basement.
    • In a box, he finds Peter's old Donkey Kong game 'n' watch, and his own T-shirt with the mysterious slashes in the back.
    • He wonders how the cases are connected, and he worries that his true identity as Adam Ryan will be exposed.
  • Chapter 7

    • Rob and Cassie return Mark to the site, and Rob confirms Mark's alibi with Mel.
    • He also asks her what she things of his whole sleeping in the woods thing.
    • She says he's "an intense guy" (7.3), instead of crazy-go-nuts, as Rob thinks he is.
    • Before they leave to talk to Katy's Auntie Vera, they overhear Sean, another archeologist, yelling about his missing trowel.
    • Auntie Vera is just as creepy as the rest of the family—she smells like cabbage and just acts strange.
    • Her daughter, Valerie (Katy's cousin) says that sometimes Katy spent the night with them.
    • Valerie says that Rosalind says her parents (the Devlins) are horrible to her.
    • Allegedly Rosalind ran away because her dad hit her, so she "went off somewhere with a fella" (7.42), not her friend Karen.
    • Rob and Cassie go door-to-door interviewing people, but they don't find any good information.
    • They hit the pub for a pint or two, talk about the case, then walk on the beach.
    • Cassie asks Rob to tell her about Peter and Jamie, his missing friends.
    • He says that Jamie was a tomboy and Peter was the rare kind of kid who stopped them from bullying others, like the unfortunately named weenie Willy Little.
    • After they disappeared, Rob went to boarding school, where he had one friend, Charlie, and was mostly lonely.
    • He always wondered if his parents sent him away because they were afraid of him.
  • Chapter 8

    • Sam arrives at Cassie's apartment with a bottle of wine to have dinner and talk about the case.
    • Cassie has not only made dinner, she's also cooked up a profile of the killer.
    • In sum: His "heart wasn't in it" (8.28); he'd never done this before (or he hasn't done this recently); he didn't want Katy to suffer; he only did it because he "had to" (8.45); Katy probably knew him, because otherwise she wouldn't have gone into the woods; and he probably only raped her to throw them off the right track.
    • Rob can't see how this case is connected with the old case, because serial killers don't usually take breaks. They don't get paid vacation… (Rob must not remember BTK.)
    • They bicker over whether or not Mark did it (for some reason, Rob insists that he did), but Cassie thinks his "faith" (8.108) would keep him from doing it.
    • Exhausting all the information, Rob and Cassie tell Sam about their backgrounds a bit, then Sam leaves and Rob crashes on Cassie's futon for the night.
  • Chapter 9

    • On Sunday, Rob, Cassie, and Sam attend Katy's funeral.
    • Rosalind tells Rob, "You have to catch the man who did this to my sister" (9.12), and of course the media gets a photo of it and makes it front page news.
    • Over the next two weeks, they investigate everything: Katy's friends, an online pedophile ring, the Devlins' home, Katy's grades, her medical records.
    • The medical records reveal that doctors could never find anything actually wrong with Katy.
    • They check the Devlins' phone records, too.
    • Katy talked the most, chatting with her friends; Rosalind's friend Karen called a lot, but Rosalind never called her back.
    • The mysterious threatening caller, the one unhappy with Jonathan's involvement in Move the Motorway, called from pay phones.
    • Jessica never talked to anyone.
    • Rosalind finally comes to see Rob.
    • She's really weird, going back and forth between wanting to tell him something and acting all cagey.
    • She says that Katy told their dad she wasn't into boys, but she had boyfriends.
    • Rob and Cassie talk to Katy's friends again, and they swear that Katy never had a boyfriend.
    • Finally, the lab results come back: The blood on the stone is A positive, the same blood type from the cold case.
    • However the blood samples, which were stored in the basement, are too degraded to get any DNA from.
    • Cassie goes to talk to Kiernan, the detective on the cold case.
    • Kiernan thinks that whoever killed the kids didn't intend to—instead he panicked when Adam ran, so he killed Peter and Jamie in the woods.
    • Sam wonders what ever happened to Adam, and Cassie says she doesn't know.
    • McCabe, who has died by now, thought it was a random tourist killing.
    • The next day, Rosalind calls Rob, saying that Jessica wants to talk to him.
    • They meet at a little café, where Jessica mostly sways back and forth and mumbles to herself.
    • Eventually, at Rosalind's insistence, she says she saw a man talking to Katy one day.
    • He was big and wore a dark blue tracksuit. Gasp. Just like the man Damien says he saw.
    • After that, Jessica goes glazed over and silent, like her batteries ran down.
  • Chapter 10

    • Rob tracks down everyone who is wearing a tracksuit, has worn a tracksuit, or will wear a tracksuit, but comes up with no leads.
    • Meanwhile, Sam has done his work on the motorway.
    • He draws up a huge map that diagrams who owns what in and around Knocknaree.
    • There's a lot of money tied up in this highway business, so much so that it's not out of bounds to think one of the landowners may have hired a hit man.
    • Later, Rob tries to remember what happened in the woods.
    • He remembers watching Sandra have sex with the boy in the Metallica shirt in the clearing, and he also remembers finding a "secret garden" (10.59), though he doesn't think that memory could possibly be real.
    • On Wednesday, Cassie suggests that the Devlins fed the story of the tracksuit to Jessica to throw the cops off the trail.
    • Rob calls Rosalind to follow up with her, but she doesn't call back.
    • Cassie and Rob travel to Knocknaree to interview Peter's and Jamie's parents.
    • While Cassie talks to Peter's parents, Rob waits in the car.
    • But for some reason he does decide to go inside to talk to Jamie's mother, Alicia Rowan, though.
    • Alicia wonders if Jamie would be alive if she hadn't tried to send her to boarding school.
    • She still keeps her bedroom the way Jamie left it, but Rob can't bear to look at it, so he returns to the car while Cassie checks it out.
    • Cassie thinks it's weird. She mostly just wants to know what Rob remembers.
    • He's pretty mean, telling her, "We've been through this. Once more, with feeling: I remember sweet shining fuck-all" (10.149).
    • Tell her how you really feel, Rob.
    • On the road back to the station, Rob sees a mysterious creature run in front of the car and slams the brakes.
    • Cassie didn't see it. She doesn't know why Rob stopped.
    • Back at the station, Sam says he found a journalist who has been covering the roadway thing.
    • The journalist, Michael Kiely, believes that there's a curse or something in the woods, because the injury and fatality rate there is three times the national average.
    • He has more concrete information, at least: the names of the men behind the three development companies that have bought up all the land in the woods.
    • Time for a conference with O'Kelly, who tells them they're scaling back operations.
    • O'Kelly swears they're not giving up (although Rob thinks they are), it's just that there are other cases that now need more attention.
    • He allows them to keep two floaters.
    • That night, they hit the pub, and Rob hits on a girl named Anna, but it doesn't go anywhere with her.
    • Back at Cassie's flat, they wonder where Katy was killed and how the killer got her to the kill site.
    • Cassie relays a story about a janitor at school who tried to molest her.
    • He asked if she wanted marbles, and then tried to unbutton her shirt—she says, "kids don't connect things in the same ways grown-ups do" (10.242).
    • The chapter ends with some interior thought of Rob insisting that he and Cassie are, and will always be, platonic friends. Something about this insistence raises our doubts…
  • Chapter 11

    • Rob goes to dinner at his parents' house.
    • While doing dishes, he mother tells Rob that it was him, not Peter, who convinced the group to stop bullying Willy Little.
    • All Rob's dad does is watch television. He chimes in to tell him that he was always "a good lad" (11.34), and then goes right back to watching the tube.
    • Back at the apartment, Cassie texts Rob, reminding them they have to go to court in the morning.
    • Rob tries to cram the details of the Kavanagh case he's testifying about, but he can't focus.
    • He's terrible on the stand, and the prosecutor is furious with him, so after botching his testimony, he gets a drink before returning to get Cassie.
    • O'Kelly yells at Rob about it, but he pins the blame on a migraine.
    • At least Sam has good news: He says that Terence Andrews of Futura lives in town, right near the pay phones where all those threatening calls came from.
    • Rob skips dinner at Cassie's that night, and he has a repressed memory surface: watching Sandra get gang raped by the boys in the woods.
    • He calls Cassie late that night and tells her about this horrible memory.
  • Chapter 12

    • In the morning, they set off to find Sandra.
    • They go talk to Mrs. Pamela Fitzgerald, whose original testimony first reminded Rob of Sandra's existence.
    • She makes Rob and Cassie choke down an obscene quantity of homemade scones before telling them that Sandra still lives in the neighborhood.
    • They go to visit her. Well, Cassie goes—once again, Rob waits in the car. Why is he on this case again?
    • Sandra says that she used to go out with Cathal Mills, who was friends with Jonathan Devlin and Shane Waters.
    • Cathal would share Sandra with Jonathan sometimes, and Shane got jealous. But she didn't want to sleep with Shane.
    • So one day, Jonathan and Cathal held Sandra down while Shane raped her.
    • This is terrible, but something weird then happened: Sandra swears she heard "an enormous bird flapping its wings" (12.70), as well as a voice in the woods. It smelled, too.
    • Rob has to wonder if there was a wild animal there, perhaps one that left four slashes in his t-shirt.
    • They decide to investigate all three boys further.
  • Chapter 13

    • Rob goes after Devlin first.
    • He butters him up by talking about how nice his daughter's names are (they're all from Shakespeare's various plays)…
    • … and then springs the old rape on him.
    • Of course, Devlin is furious.
    • Rob says that it's possible that the victim (Sandra) might have something to do with Katy's murder—you know, as revenge.
    • Devlin tells his side of the story, and acts like it was a bonding experience between the three boys.
    • He says that was the reason, though "there's no excuse for what we did" (13.59).
    • Plus, it's not like he raped her in the woods—he only held her down. (For the record, we're not impressed by his differentiation.)
    • Strangely, Devlin also heard a weird voice in the woods: a "huge voice laughing" (13.7). Creepy.
    • Before Rob leaves, Devlin asks him to apologize to Sandra, because of course someone else apologizing to her all these years later for him will totally fix things.
    • Rob then goes to see Shane Waters, who is in jail. He says he "don't know nothing" (13.89), including, apparently, proper grammar.
    • Finally, Cassie and Rob go together to see Cathal Mills, and to publicly embarrass him at his work.
    • They bust into his conference room and ask to talk to him about a rape he could help them investigate.
    • Cassie plays bad cop, accusing Cathal of being a closeted homosexual with a tiny penis.
    • Rob then kicks her out and pretends to get all buddy-buddy with Cathal, who insists there was never rape, but if there were (who is he, OJ Simpson?), he wouldn't have gotten caught.
    • Also, he says that Jonathan Devlin is too much of a "pussy" (13.137) to ever commit a crime on his own.
    • Rob still wants to arrest Devlin, to get him out of the house and away from Rosalind, but Cassie says they shouldn't believe anything Cathal says because he's a psychopath.
    • And then she tells an anecdote about a psychopath she knew who tormented her in college; he's why she dropped out.
  • Chapter 14

    • They go ahead and bring Jonathan in for questioning the next day, and they call him to come in after work.
    • In the meantime, Sam brings in Terence Andrews, who is a gigantic turd.
    • He brings a lawyer, acts super important, and mostly dodges all the questions, though he does agree to participate in a voice line-up.
    • That night, Cassie and Rob interrogate Devlin, bringing up Sandra's rape and the fact that the missing kids saw them.
    • This escalates until Cassie pretty much accuses Jonathan of killing the kids in the woods in 1984.
    • He says that they're "out of [their] bloody minds" (14.101), though, and steers the conversation back to Katy.
    • They suggest that Mrs. Devlin was poisoning Katy, but Jonathan doesn't believe that would happen.
    • Things get more and more heated until Rob lunges at Devlin. Cassie plays good cop and tries to restrain him, but he's not playing this time—he's furious and angry, and they have a real struggle, in which he accidentally smacks Cassie in the mouth.
    • They let Jonathan go.
    • Cassie is furious at Rob, and he's mad at himself for getting carried away and hurting her.
  • Chapter 15

    • Rob gets totally plastered that night.
    • The next morning, he buys Cassie two gifts to make up for being a horrible partner: a cappuccino machine and an Emily Brontë novel.
    • While this whole Sandra thing has been a complete waste of time, Cassie did find a silver lining: enough circumstantial evidence to pull Jessica's and Rosalind's medical records.
    • Also, Devlin picked Andrew's out of a voice lineup, so he was the threatening caller.
    • Sam convinces O'Kelly to tap Andrews' phone.
    • Nothing happens in the woods so we can't say in the woods, though rest assured that we haven't forgotten our mission from the Chapter 2 summary to say the phrase as much as possible. See? We just said in the woods twice. Make that three times. Go us.
  • Chapter 16

    • On Saturday night, Rob decides it would be a good idea for him to spend the night in the woods alone.
    • He sneaks out there under cover of night, and all these old memories come back, like the time Jamie thought she was going to boarding school, and they decided to run away and hide in the woods.
    • That day, they heard weird voices in the woods.
    • Rob wakes up, in the present, and hears a crazy scream coming from deep in the woods.
    • Then he hears something big breathing, something with eyes, "golden and fringed like an owl's" (16.103).
    • He runs as fast as he can to get out of the woods (potential sequel title?) and he calls Cassie to come get him; he's too shaky to drive.
    • She picks him up and brings him to her flat.
    • She feeds him. He cries. They smooch. And… remember how we said back in Chapter 10 that we didn't buy their whole platonic deal? Yeah, if you bet against us, you owe us five bucks.
  • Chapter 17

    • Rob and Cassie wake up together in bed the next afternoon, and Rob immediately starts acting weird.
    • Cassie: "You want a lift?" (17.7); Rob: "I think I'll take the bus" (17.8).
    • He goes home and avoids talking to Cassie all day. Nice.
    • The next day at work, he only talks to Cassie in one-word sentences, and refuses to go to her flat for dinner, like they normally do every single night. Stay cool, Rob.
    • The medical records come in, and nothing in them says abuse or Munchausen by proxy, so the Devlins might be in the clear.
    • Rob calls Rosalind and talks to her Thursday morning.
    • The conversation mostly revolves around what an old hag Cassie is and how she never really liked Rosalind anyway.
    • Rob tries, but not very hard, to steer Rosalind back toward the case at hand.
    • He asks if her parents ever hurt her, and she says no.
    • She takes his hand, and he wants to kiss her because, you know, she's eighteen and her sister is dead. Which is obviously romantic. Is Rob worse than the cops on Reno 911?
    • She gets mad because she thought for a second he cared about her, but all he really wants to find out about is Katy. Um, just like she's wanted him to ever since Katy was found dead in the woods. These two are both crazy enough that maybe they should get together.
    • She stomps away, leaving him alone.
  • Chapter 18

    • On Friday morning, everyone listens to the tapes of Andrews' phone taps.
    • It's mostly useless information… until Andrews calls someone about how the cops are all over his "arse" (18.23) about the murder of "some kid" (18.27).
    • The voice on the other line tells Andrews not to talk to the cops without a lawyer and don't ever call him from his house phone again.
    • The voice is Sam's honorable government uncle. Say what?
    • Sam is shocked and has no idea what to do.
    • That afternoon, Cassie confronts Rob about how weird he's acting, and he gets even weirder by saying he's not acting weird.
    • And then, to top it all off, he stomps off like a bratty teenager.
    • Monday evening, Sam comes over and tells Rob that he didn't talk to his uncle about the tapes.
    • He did go to O'Kelly about it, though, and O'Kelly told him to erase the tape. Looks like we've got ourselves a good old-fashioned cover up here, Shmoopers.
    • Sam, being the honest guy he is, doesn't know if he wants to cover it up. He wonders if he should give the tape to Michael Kiely, the slightly nutso journalist.
    • This whole thing has really shaken Sam up. His uncle gave him a good deal on his house, but now he doesn't want it.
    • Sam leaves, and Rob mopes around, thinking that he didn't get murdered in the woods because he "wasn't good enough" (18.132). Um, we're going to leave this pity party early.
  • Chapter 19

    • On Tuesday, Rob finally returns to the dig site to get his car, which he left there forever ago.
    • All of a sudden, he remembers that Sean lost his trowel way back in Chapter 7, and decides that finding it is of the utmost importance.
    • The last time Sean saw it was when he dug up a coin, which was carried to the finds shed; only Mark, Damien, and Dr. Hunt have a key.
    • Rob calls in, like, the entire police force to look for this trowel in the woods that he should have searched for weeks ago.
    • They find it. In the tool shed, behind some tarps.
    • Meanwhile, Sophie's sprayed down the finds shed with luminol and found blood splatters—in other words, she's found the murder scene.
    • As it always does in these stories, it starts to rain, right on cue.
  • Chapter 20

    • They whittle down the suspects to Mark and Damien—of course, Rob thinks Mark did it, for no reason whatsoever.
    • Sam mentions that Damien is the only left-handed one in the group, so they call him in first.
    • They think it's fishy when Damien insists he's never seen Katy before, because she often hung around the site.
    • Meanwhile, Sam is getting nowhere interrogating Mark.
    • Rob decides to quiz Damien about Mark. Did he ever hit anyone? Isn't he just the worst? He's not really that cute is he?
    • They break for food and feed Damien some pizza.
    • Sophie calls Rob to tell him that the trowel was definitely the rape weapon; also, they found Katy's Hello Kitty flashlight under another tarp. Importantly, though, they didn't find any traces of blood in Mark's car.
    • Back in the interrogation room, they ask Damien about his alibi: He was home with mommy.
    • The catch is that mommy was asleep, and Damien could have snuck out of the house and gone… in the woods.
    • They turn the screws on Damien, showing him pictures of Katy, dead and alive, and telling him that they don't think the killer meant to do it—he was a nice guy, a victim of circumstance.
    • Finally, Damian confesses: "It just happened" (20.136).
    • Rob officially arrests him.
  • Chapter 21

    • Damien explains what happened in the woods: He met Katy in the finds shed and said, "look on that shelf" (21.21), then clunked her with a rock—twice. She tried to scream, so he twisted a plastic bag over her head, then he carried her into the woods. But someone else was there, so he wrapped her in a tarp and hid her overnight. While cleaning up the blood, he heard noises outside—"Scratching at the walls […] sniffing round the edge of the door" (21.48). The next night he put her on the altar stone.
    • He admits to inventing the story of the big guy in the tracksuit.
    • Cassie thinks they should get Rosalind, because she and Damien gave the same fake lead.
    • Rob reminds her that Jessica gave them the lead, but Cassie thinks Rosalind fed Jessica that info.
    • He whines that Cassie never liked Rosalind anyway and says she's just out to get her.
    • Cassie calls Rob "an embarrassment to this entire fucking squad" (21.101), and goes to get Rosalind herself.
    • Meanwhile, Rob tries to find out Damien's motive, but Damien can't stop crying.
    • He sends Damien away to be held for the night, and realizes that Cassie has been interrogating Rosalind.
  • Chapter 22

    • Cassie calls Rob that night, but he hangs up on her. Super mature.
    • The next morning, O'Kelly calls Ryan into the office. Okay, he actually demands it: "Get the fuck in here. […] Now" (22.14). People are dropping f-bombs left and right in this book.
    • Rob goes in, and O'Kelly calls him "Adam fucking Ryan" (22.17)—see what we mean about the f bombs?—and with that, the jig is up. O'Kelly knows Rob was the boy in the woods.
    • He's furious that this little secret could jeopardize the whole case.
    • O'Kelly doesn't take him off the case, but he basically wants him as uninvolved in it as possible.
    • Rob accuses Cassie of telling O'Kelly that he's really Adam Ryan, and though she tries to tell him that she didn't, he doesn't believe her.
    • She gives him a tape to watch, the tape of her interrogation with Rosalind.
    • During the interrogation, Rosalind says that he's Adam Ryan.
    • She even tells Cassie that Rob told her he was Adam Ryan.
    • Cassie covers it up, saying that he was lying to her to gain her trust.
    • After Rob watches the tape, Cassie says that she denied the whole thing to O'Kelly, but he accused her of covering for him.
    • He decided to pull the prints from the old case and see if they matched Rob's.
    • Rob can't believe he accused Cassie of exposing him, and he knows he can never repair their friendship.
  • Chapter 23

    • Since Rob is basically a non-entity now, Sam and Cassie try to discover Damien's motive for killing Katy, while Rob watches from the observation room.
    • They ask Damien about his involvement in the Move the Motorway campaign, and they reveal that they know all about Damien calling Rosalind from his cell phone.
    • Apparently, these two crazy kids met at a Move the Motorway protest and started a relationship.
    • Damien doesn't want her dad to know, though, because he would get mad at her.
    • Damien believes that Jonathan got mad at Rosalind a lot. Once he broke her skull with a poker, and he threw Jessica into a wall and broke her arm; Damien says Jonathan raped them, too.
    • According to Damien, Katy liked it. That's why she was Jonathan's favorite.
    • Rob knows this is all hooey, though, because they've seen the medical records.
    • Damien tried to get Rosalind to move out, but she didn't want to leave Jessica behind.
    • Damien suggested to Rosalind that he kill Jonathan, but she was afraid Katy would find another man who would do the same thing to them. Or worse.
    • So Damien decided to kill Katy instead. He considered it self-defense, protecting Rosalind and Jessica from her.
    • Rosalind lured Katy to the dig site by telling her that she had a friend who would give her a locket, which would bring her good luck in dance, and when she came to the finds shed to get the locket, he killed her.
    • Cassie wants to pursue Rosalind, whom she thinks is a clinical psychopath.
    • They don't need her parents, because she's eighteen, so Cassie decides to wear a wire and talk to Rosalind in hopes of getting her to confess.
  • Chapter 24

    • Cassie gets wired up, and to test the mic she recites an obscure poem called "At the War Cemetery, Bayeux" by Charles Causley. How literary.
    • Rob finagles his way into the van to follow along; they eavesdrop on the wire as Cassie visits Rosalind.
    • Rosalind agrees to go for a walk with Cassie, and, like Lex Luthor or the Joker, reveals her entire plan in a dramatic monologue.
    • In order to keep her going, Cassie pretends she's in love with Rob and can't tell anyone or she'll get fired. Rosalind feels superior because she knew this the whole time.
    • Keeping the maniacal laughter to minimum, she says she used to poison Katy, but when Katy found out, she had to find a way to kill her.
    • So she manipulated Damien so much that he thought he came up with the plan himself—you know, the plan to kill Katy in the woods.
    • Cassie arrests her, and they struggle. The guys from the van swoop in as backup and split them up, but not before Rosalind manages to claw her fingernails down Cassie's face.
    • Back at the station, Rosalind says, "Don't minors have the right to have a parent or guardian present during an interview?" (24.196)—turns out, the lying little… girl is seventeen. She simply told Rob she was eighteen. And he believed her.
    • And this means that everything she said on tape is inadmissible evidence. Way to go, Rob.
  • Chapter 25

    • Rosalind has to be re-interviewed with the parents present, and they generally interfere, saying there's no way Rosalind did what they said she did.
    • Cassie, Rob, and Sam clean up the incident room. The case is over.
    • Cassie testifies at Damien's trial, but Rob doesn't.
    • Rosalind is called as a witness, though she doesn't have a trial of her own. Her attorney bargains a deal for a three-year suspended sentence for resisting arrest.
    • Outside the courthouse, Devlin tells Rob that Jessica tried to kill herself.
    • He also admits that he suspected Rosalind the whole time, but "She's my daughter, too" (25.39). What was he supposed to do?
    • Rob apologizes for pursuing Jonathan.
    • Jonathan says they're going to move—ever since being accused of child abuse, his house has been vandalized.
    • He worries that Rosalind will never change, and he says that he wishes he had made his wife have an abortion when she had her. Whoa.
    • The rest is very epilogue-y:
    • Damian is found guilty, and sentenced to life.
    • Rob is suspended, but remains on the force; he gets demoted to the floater pool.
    • Cassie transfers to Domestic Violence.
    • Sam never exposes his uncle, although he does end up renting out his ill-gotten house.
    • Rob goes out with Sophie a couple of times, but she accuses him of being "fucked up" (25.71). We think she has a point—and she's certainly not the first person to make such an observation.
    • Rob tries to focus on the positive, and even thinks of a happy memory of Peter, Jamie, and him eating junk food and enjoying the summer.
    • One day, Simone Cameron, the dance teacher, calls. She found Katy's diary, which everyone had presumed had been thrown away. Instead, she'd hidden it at the dance studio.
    • In it, she writes that Rosalind was making her sick, and she hates Rosalind.
    • But Rosalind said she was sorry, and even got her a lucky charm to apologize.
    • That, of course, is the last entry.
    • Simone wonders if they could have saved Katy if she'd found it sooner, but Rob doubts it.
    • A few weeks later, Rob learns that Cassie and Sam are engaged, so he calls her and says "I'm so, so sorry. I love you" (25.110).
    • She puts the phone down, but either doesn't hang up on purpose, or misses the phone cradle on accident.
    • Rob listens to Cassie tell Rob that it was a wrong number—"Some drunk guy" (25.112), she says.
    • Cassie falls asleep, and Rob listens to her sleeping.
    • Rob has no idea if she did it on purpose, and if so, if she did it to hurt him, or to give him "one last gift, one last night listening to her breathe" (25.117). Either way, it's a little creepy.
    • Finally, Rob goes into the woods one last time before the motorway is built.
    • Rob asks one of the workmen, kind of as a joke, if he's found any dead bodies during his work.
    • He hasn't, of course, but he gives Rob an arrowhead that he found and says he can hang onto it.
    • Rob gives it back to the man, saying his grandson should have it.
    • He looks at his hand, where he squeezed the arrow head, and looks at the "slender red marks" (25.148) across his palm, and he returns to his car.
    • The end.