The Girl on the Train Summary
All aboard. In July of 2013, Rachel Watson is a female on a locomotive, a.k.a. a girl on a train. She rides the commuter rail to and from London every day for work (or so she says). While on the train, Rachel engages in hardcore people-watching and conjures up a perfect fantasy life for one couple she is totally obsessed with. Rachel calls them Jason and Jess, and the train stops outside their house every morning.
This golden couple lives on the same street Rachel used to… before she failed to get pregnant, started drinking, and her husband cheated on her and divorced her. Ouch. No wonder she wants to pretend someone out there has a perfect life. Hers is far from it.
But this couple isn't perfect. Rachel soon sees Jess smooching a man who isn't her husband, and then a few days later, Jess disappears. Jess and Jason are really named Megan and Scott. When no newspapers mention the man Megan was having an affair with, Rachel decides to contact Scott and tell him that she saw his wife kissing another man.
Together, Rachel and Scott learn the man's identity: It's Dr. Kamal Abdic, Megan's therapist. Whoa. The doctor is called in for questioning by the police but he denies have an affair with Megan. Is he telling the truth? Scott and Rachel still suspect Dr. Abdic, so Rachel goes to him for therapy to see if he acts guilty. He doesn't act guilty. And he turns out to be a pretty good therapist to boot, helping Rachel confront her drinking problem and her memory loss.
Rachel remembers being in the neighborhood the night Megan went missing. The problem is that Rachel was totally drunk and doesn't remember anything beyond that. She had a blackout in the underpass, so her memory is one big black hole. Rachel's roommate, Cathy, disapproves of Rachel's drinking problem, and gets even angrier at her when she realizes that Rachel lost her job months ago. All those train rides to and from London are just her pretending she still has a job. Maybe she should be applying to jobs instead of riding the train…
So why was Rachel conveniently in the neighborhood when Megan went missing? Did she have something to do with her disappearance? Rachel's memory is completely blacked out; she has no idea.
Rachel eventually remembers something bad happening in the underpass. Although she doesn't know exactly what it was, she recalls her ex-husband, Tom, and his new wife, Anna, both being there. Rachel is unable to get over her failed marriage and often bothers Tom and Anna, who live a couple houses down from Scott and Megan. Anna, who was the other woman when Rachel and Tom were married, hates Rachel and wants her out of their lives. She wasn't very fond of Megan either, who briefly babysat for her and Tom. Wow, things are really complicated.
When Megan's body is found buried in the woods, Scott and Rachel have a brief one-night stand. Soon Anna tells the police that Rachel is a creepy desperate stalker, and word gets to Scott, who is mad at Rachel for being a creepy desperate stalker. Scott, drunk and angry, manhandles Rachel and locks her in a room. Could he have become angry enough to kill Megan? Would a man in mourning sleep with another woman days after his wife is found dead?
Rachel is still desperate to get to the bottom of these questions. She bumps into a red haired man on the train who remembers Rachel from the night Megan went missing. By talking to him, Rachel is able to piece together more details of that night: Tom wasn't with Anna that night—he was with Megan.
Just when Rachel suspects Tom may have killed Megan, Anna finds a secret phone in Tom's gym bag. The pre-paid cell phone turns out to be Megan's. Why does Tom have her phone? Rachel shows up to convince Anna that Tom is a murderer and to help Anna and her baby escape. But Anna is unable to put aside her dislike for Rachel and go with her, even though the evidence against Tom is mounting rapidly.
We flashback to the night Megan revealed to Scott that she had an affair. Her therapist had advised her to come clean, and given her a friendly kiss after their talk. That's the kiss Rachel saw and misinterpreted. It's good advice, but Scott doesn't take the news well. He assaults Megan, and she leaves, running to Tom…
Back in the present, Tom comes home and, like the super villain he is, reveals everything that happened: He was cheating on Anna with Megan, and Megan got pregnant with his baby. Tom asked her to have an abortion, not realizing Megan's history with babies. When Megan was a teenager, she had a baby, but accidentally killed it when she fell asleep in the tub. Tom's suggestion to have an abortion touched a nerve, and Megan yelled and screamed at Tom, saying she'd expose their affair. To shut her up, Tom killed her. Whoa. We thought Scott had anger issues.
After the confession, Rachel runs from Tom, but he attacks her. She stabs him in the neck with a corkscrew. Angry that Tom lied to her, too, Anna moves in and finishes the job, twisting the corkscrew in deeper and deeper. Tom dies, his lies are exposed by the police, and everyone lives happily ever after. Well, Rachel seems to be happy at least. She takes a vacation to gather her thoughts and think about what she wants next out of her life. Then she takes the train home. Or to the laundromat to get all those blood stains out of her clothing. Either destination seems likely.
- It's the morning of Friday, July 5, 2013. And no, it's not the day after Independence Day, because this book is set in England.
- Anyway, Rachel is a girl. Well, she's an adult girl (a.k.a. a woman), and she's on a train.
- You guessed it: She's the girl on the train.
- Mystery solved, the end.
- Oh wait, no, we still have a lot of pages to go. Well, onward.
- Rachel looks out the window of a train.
- Now it's the evening of the same day, and Rachel is riding back home on the train, drinking gin and tonic from a can, which we didn't even know was a thing, and looking out the window again.
- She remembers her first holiday with Tom in a way that we assume means she's not with Tom anymore.
- Rachel recalls fishing villages, beaches, making love in the sand.
- On Monday, Rachel's back on the train.
- Many days the train stops outside her favorite house, number fifteen.
- Rachel imagines the couple she often sees hanging outside the house on their lovely terrace as Jason and Jess, "a perfect, golden couple" (1.14). They're what Tom and Rachel maybe used to be, but definitely aren't now.
- In the evening, Rachel tries to see Jason and Jess from the other side of the track.
- She doesn't, but she has her imagination to fall back on.
- On Tuesday, Rachel tells us that she used to live at twenty-three Blenheim Road, a few houses down from number fifteen.
- Now Tom lives there with Anna, and they've had a baby together.
- In the evening, Rachel is riding back home on the train.
- Home is now a room she rents from a friend, Cathy. Cathy is nice, but Rachel feels out of place there.
- On hump day, Rachel is disappointed that she catches neither hide nor hair of Jess nor Jason, so she imagines their perfect (to her) life yet again.
- That evening it's hot and sweaty, and Rachel feels gross. She's put on weight and she's puffy from all her drinking.
- A man at a computer looks at her and she thinks that he thinks that's she's gross, too.
- On Thursday, Rachel sees "Jess" looking sad, and she thinks about a bunch of stuff that makes her sad too: being a drunk, losing Tom, drinking, drinking, drinking, (and drinking).
- That night, Tom calls and tells Rachel to stop bugging him: "These constant calls are really upsetting Anna" (1.47). But she didn't even tell us she'd been calling him. Does she not remember?
- It's now the year before Chapter 1, a.k.a. 2012.
- So now we're following Megan, whoever that is, and she's listening to a train and imagining she's elsewhere.
- She's disappointed when her husband speaks and breaks her from her trance.
- That evening, she's on her terrace when she hears screaming from down the street.
- Megan sees two women who seem to fighting over a baby.
- One of them is acting really weird, but Megan doesn't call the police.
- A few months later, Megan has a new job as a nanny.
- She's working for the woman she saw yelling in the garden, Anna, even though she doesn't like her and her husband.
- Anna's husband, Tom (could he be Rachel's Tom?), is handsome though.
- Two days later, Megan quits her nanny job. How long did she have that job anyway? Mary Poppins would be ashamed.
- Megan tells Anna and Tom that she found another job, which is a lie.
- The next month, Megan is wallowing in sadness about her dead brother, Ben.
- She's been depressed, so she's going to see a therapist, Dr. Kamal Abdic.
- When Megan meets him, she thinks of his hands on her, his "long and delicate fingers, I can almost feel them on my skin" (2.38). Whoa… What kind of therapy is this?
- They have a typical first therapy session (no touchy-feely) and she leaves.
- The next week, Megan is still wallowing in regrets, wishing her art studio hadn't closed. And she's avoiding Tom and Anna.
- That night, Megan is lonely because Scott isn't home.
- She goes for a walk and considers stopping at number twenty-three (which is Tom and Anna's house) but she doesn't.
- On her way back home, "he passes me in his car, our eyes meet for just a second and he smiles at me" (2.53). But who is "he"?
- It's the morning after we last saw Rachel.
- She's riding the train and dreaming about breakfast.
- Okay, she's thinking of her ex, Tom, too, but we got distracted by the mention of breakfast.
- When she stops thinking of breakfast… mmm… breakfast… Rachel sees "Jess" outside with a man who isn't her husband.
- Rachel is disappointed in this woman she doesn't even know because it reminds her of when Tom cheated on her.
- She was checking Tom's work schedule to plan a surprise vacation and she found spicy e-mails from another woman on his laptop. Ouch.
- The memory makes Rachel so angry that she thinks, "if I saw Jess, I would spit in her face. I would scratch her eyes out" (3.11). Jeepers.
- That evening, Rachel remembers something awkward that happened between train rides: She went to a café and bumped into Martin Miles with Sasha and Harriet.
- Martin Miles would be bad enough, but Sasha and Harriet?
- Wait a minute… who are Martin Miles, Sasha, or Harriet?!
- Rachel knows them somehow, but she won't explicitly say where from. She tells them she has a job interview, though, so maybe she used to work with them.
- After drinking a grande cup of awkwardness at the café, Rachel goes to the park.
- She gets a call from Tom, but when she answers, it's not Tom—it's his new wife, Anna. Curses.
- She tells Rachel to stop calling Tom all the time: "That's just not acceptable" (3.24).
- Rachel thinks about this humiliating, infuriating phone call while she slams back cans of gin and tonic on a park bench.
- She imagines getting revenge against Anna and sending her a nasty e-mail.
- Yeah, that'll teach her to marry Tom and move into the house he used to share with Rachel…
- No, that's too depressing. Instead Rachel just falls asleep, sad.
- Cathy is up early and cleaning the next morning. Rachel, however, has no clue what to do with her Saturday.
- She decides to go see "Jason" and tell him that she saw his wife with another man.
- Rachel has clearly been drinking.
- She gets off the right subway stop and bumps into a man with red hair, and…
- It's the next morning already. Rachel had a black out, and she doesn't remember what happened.
- She tries to recall some details.
- She fell on the subway stairs and a red-haired man picked her up.
- But that's it. How'd she get home? Where's her purse? Her phone?
- When she gets out of bed, she sees bruises on her legs. How'd those get there?
- Rachel goes downstairs and she finds her purse and her phone alongside all her clothes and a puddle of vomit on the stairs. Yikes.
- Deciding to clean up the puke later, Rachel goes upstairs to plug in her cell phone.
- On it is a message from Tom: "What the hell is wrong with you?" (3.70). He tells Rachel to stay away from him and Anna.
- Rachel has no clue what she did to them, but whatever it was, she's angry that Tom spoke to her that way.
- Rachel imagines going to their house and smashing Anna's head in. Ouch.
- At some point she passes out again, and she only wakes up when Cathy screams at her to clean up her vomit.
- Cathy is furious that Rachel got so wasted.
- Rachel cleans up the stale puddle of sick and then notices she has a voicemail from Tom.
- In a complete reversal from the night before, he's being nice, checking on her, making sure she got home okay.
- Rachel crawls into bed feeling sorry for herself… but not sure what exactly she has to feel sorry for.
- It's Tuesday, October 2, 2012, a few days after we last saw Megan.
- She had a panic attack and called a man on his cell phone, but she won't tell us who it is.
- That evening, she talks about Kamal—yeah, she's on a first-name basis with her therapist now.
- Kamal suggested she keep a diary, but she's worried that if she does, Scott, her husband, will find it. He often searches through her things.
- Eleven days later, it seems that Megan has started having an affair.
- She tells Scott that she's hanging out with her friend Tara but instead meets a man at a motel.
- Cathy gives Rachel a little present: a formal notice of eviction. Aw, thanks.
- Rachel cries on the train.
- When it stops in front of "Jason's" house, Rachel is alarmed that Jason seems to be looking right at her.
- Later that day, Rachel is hit by a cab and sent to the hospital.
- How'd that happen?
- Well, Rachel was distracted by a newspaper headline and she walked right in front of the car.
- What's the headline? "CONCERN FOR MISSING WITNEY WOMAN" (5.23).
- Witney is "Jess's" neighborhood, not a misspelling of Whitney Houston.
- Rachel discovers that Jess's real name is Megan Hipwell… and she's missing.
- It's January 2013. Megan is still in therapy with Kamal, telling him all about her past.
- Ben, her brother, died, and when she was nineteen she moved in with a man named Craig McKenzie, or Mac.
- She decides to search for Mac online (perhaps searching for Mac with a Mac), but forgets to delete her browser history.
- Her husband, Scott the snoop, finds it and they get in a huge fight.
- Kamal suggests that Scott is using a form of "emotional abuse" (6.27) against her, but Megan says it's not abuse if she doesn't mind it—"And I don't. I don't mind" (6.28), she says.
- That afternoon, Megan takes a nap.
- She wakes up thinking about "him" leaving in the middle of night (who, Scott?) and she wanders around the house, feeling like someone has been there.
- After checking to make sure the doors are locked, she sits and waits for Scott: "I need him" (6.41).
- Instead of going to London, Rachel is going to Witney, where Megan went missing, hoping to jog her memory.
- She worries about Scott, the husband, because the police will naturally suspect him, but she assumes that no one knows about the secret boyfriend.
- Rachel makes a list of possibilities, like "B[oyfriend] has harmed her" (7.14), "She has simply left her husband and gone to live elsewhere" (7.14), or "Neil Patrick Harris did it," though she is pretty sure Megan has run off with her secret boyfriend.
- When she gets to the neighborhood and travels through the underpass, she has a flashback: "I could see myself a few metres in, slumped against the wall, my head in my hands, and both head and hands smeared with blood" (7.22). Whoa…
- Rachel tries to piece together the memories—she remembers falling and the red-haired man.
- Cathy calls to check on Rachel. She apologized earlier that day for evicting her, saying she could stay as long as she wants.
- This time, though, she's not checking in just to be nice. She's checking in because the police are there and they want to talk to Rachel.
- Rachel goes home to talk to the police, and by "talk" we mean "lie out of her butt."
- Embarrassed about her blackout—and maybe afraid of what she may have done while out of it—she concocts a story for the police, saying she went to see Tom, decided it was a bad idea, and came back home.
- Detective Inspector Gaskill says they knew Rachel was in the area because Anna, Tom's new wife, said she saw Rachel nearby, "acting strangely" (7.63).
- D.I. Gaskill asks Rachel if she saw Megan but she says she doesn't remember.
- The next morning, Rachel decides to go to the police and come clean.
- It only makes things worse, though, and she gets on the bad side of Detective Sergeant Riley, a female officer who thinks Rachel is a mentally unstable stalker. (Um… she's kind of right.)
- Rachel tells them she's only been pretending to go to work so that her roommate, Cathy, doesn't find out she was fired. Yeah, that's totally sane. #sarcasm
- DS Riley brings up an incident from the past: Rachel kidnapped Anna's baby.
- Whoa, what?
- According to Rachel, she went to see Tom, but Anna was asleep and the baby was crying, so Rachel picked her up to quiet her.
- While Rachel tells the cops this story, she thinks about her own fertility issues.
- Unable to have a baby, Rachel got deeply depressed; that's when she started drinking and her marriage fell apart.
- The police reveal that Anna and Megan knew each other since Megan babysat for them.
- Rachel has a revelation of her own: Megan was having an affair.
- She describes Megan's secret boyfriend, but the police don't really seem to believe her; they tell Rachel to stay the heck away from everyone involved in this case.
- Rachel wants to do the opposite, though, and is convinced she can help: "I have a purpose," she says, "Or at least, I have a distraction" (7.190).
- The next day, Rachel researches Megan's past, then she e-mails Scott, the husband, asking him to contact her: "I believe I have information that could help you" (7.204).
- On the train that evening, Rachel bumps into the red-haired man.
- She considers asking him what happened that fateful night, but she can't get up the nerve.
- He gets off the train, and Rachel returns home feeling bad for herself.
- It's a month after we last saw Megan, and she is at the Swan (a motel) with the unnamed man she's having an affair with.
- They fantasize about going on a vacation—the beach, Thailand, Sicily.
- The man tells Megan about his past, and she wonders if he's her soul mate.
- She falls asleep, and he's not there when she wakes up. Um, a soul mate would probably at least leave a note.
- The next day, Scott, Megan's husband (remember him?) brings her coffee on the terrace and asks her about therapy.
- She says she wants to continue therapy, but we're not sure if it's clinical psychology she's talking about here, the Dr. Lovin' she spent time with earlier, or if these two guys are the same people.
- When Scott tells Megan, "Love you" (8.26), she feels like she's going to cry.
- It's the day after we last saw Rachel.
- She's exhilarated by this hunt for clues to Megan's disappearance.
- "I feel like myself—the myself I used to be" (9.1), she says. Wow—for Rachel's sake, girls should disappear more often.
- Rachel spends an hour talking to D.I. Gaskill and telling him about the man she saw Rachel with that day on the train.
- But she still wants to know what happened the night of her blackout.
- She does research on hypnotherapy, wondering if it will help her.
- That night Rachel rewards herself with a drink… or seven. We're not sure how many, but by the time Saturday rolls around, she's sent a couple drunken e-mails she shouldn't have.
- The first was to Tom, of course.
- In that e-mail, Rachel orders him to tell Anna to get off her back. That'll go over well…
- Rachel tells us that the story she told the police the other day wasn't exactly true.
- She took Anna's baby on purpose, not to calm it down from crying, but she doesn't exactly know why she did it.
- Ever since then Anna's wanted her arrested for kidnapping. Gee, we wonder why.
- Rachel's second drunk e-mail was to Scott.
- In it, she lied and said she knew Megan from the art gallery.
- Scott responds, giving Rachel his phone number and asking her to call him.
- She does, and Scott wants to talk in person.
- She makes plans to see him that night.
- Anna is here to shake you out of your routine. You thought this book was Rachel, Megan, Rachel, Megan, Rachel, Megan, but now bam, here's Anna to mess you up good.
- It's the same day we just left Rachel—Saturday, July 20, 2013.
- Tom brings Anna breakfast in bed. And presents in bed, too. What an amazing husband he is, right?
- Oh wait; it's Anna's birthday, and Tom gives her a bracelet and some lingerie.
- Later that day, Anna is thinking about how amazing her life is. Sure, all her friends thought she was nuts to get involved with a married man and move into the house he just booted his ex-wife out of, but she's happy. Tom is perfect.
- Except for the fact that he's acting fishy at his computer, slamming it shut when Anna walks in.
- But he says it's just e-mail from the crazy ex, Rachel. "Sometimes I want to kill that woman" (10.12), Anna thinks to herself.
- That afternoon, Anna and Tom have lunch and wine.
- When Anna is picking up the baby's toys that night, she looks out the window and sees Rachel.
- What's she doing in Anna's neighborhood?
- Anna considers running after her, but Tom comes out of the bathroom, holding the baby, whom he just bathed, so Anna stays inside with her family.
- It's the day after we last saw Rachel in Chapter 9.
- She went to see Scott last night; here's how that went:
- Déjà vu hits Rachel as soon as she goes into Scott's house—it looks just like the house she used to live in with Tom.
- Scott invites her in and fixes her some tea.
- They talk for a bit, and Rachel says she's Tom's ex-wife and used to live down the street. (truth)
- Then she says she knew Megan from the gallery (lie), and that she saw Megan outside with another man (truth) and they were kissing (also true).
- She describes the man, and Scott wonders if it's her therapist, Kamal Abdic.
- They go online, and Rachel looks at the picture.
- Yep—the secret smoocher was totally Dr. Abdic, Megan's therapist.
- "The therapy seemed to be helping. She was happier. […] Now I know why" (11.72), Scott says bitterly.
- Rachel leaves, and that night she doesn't have a drink. Go, Rachel.
- Later the next day, after lunch with Cathy, Rachel gets a call from Scott.
- He thanks her for the info and says that he told the cops to check up on the good doctor.
- They'd already talked to him but they said they'd speak with him again.
- Scott mentions he saw Tom, Rachel's ex, too.
- Tom asked Scott if he was okay, like a good neighbor. That's sweet of him.
- Scott didn't tell Tom he knew Rachel, though, which Rachel is glad about.
- Scott continues talking, telling Rachel he feels guilty.
- The night Megan disappeared, she and Scott had a huge fight (he won't say why), and she stormed out.
- Scott didn't go after her and he wonders if she would be okay if he had.
- The next morning, Rachel sees online that a man has been arrested in connection with Megan's disappearance. Is it Dr. Abdic?
- Rachel gets off the train and runs to Scott's house.
- When she goes through the creepy underpass, she tries to remember what happened there. No memories resurface, though.
- Rachel stands on Scott's porch but decides not to ring the bell.
- Not that it matters—as she's about to leave, the door opens and a hand pulls her inside. Whoa.
- Megan is mad that her mystery man hasn't contacted her: "I can live without him, I can do without him just fine—but I don't like to lose" (12.3).
- That afternoon, she marches straight into Kamal's office and says she wants to be with him.
- He rebuffs her, saying "It's transference, Megan" (12.32).
- He says he shouldn't have let things get so far, and when she tries to kiss him, he pushes her away.
- On her way home, she plots her revenge.
- It's the day after we last saw Rachel—you know, when she got dragged into Scott's house. What happened?
- She's going to tell us. Here we go:
- Scott yanks Rachel inside because he doesn't want anyone to see her; he's trying to maintain a low profile so the media doesn't hound him.
- Scott tells Rachel that it was Kamal Abdic the police arrested but he doesn't know anything more than that.
- Now he asks, "Why did you come?" (13.9).
- Rachel says she didn't want him to be alone. But he's not alone—his mother is there.
- Rachel briefly meets mama Scott, then Scott boots her out of the house… right in front of Tom and Anna who are walking the baby.
- Anna snatches the baby out of the stroller (well, pram in the U.K.), but Rachel walks by thinking, "I couldn't be less interested in your daughter" (13.20).
- Instead she's happy that the police have Dr. Abdic, "And I helped!" (13.22).
- We pick up with Anna on the same morning we just left Rachel.
- It turns out that Tom called out after Rachel, but Rachel practically ran away from the two of them.
- That evening, they learn that someone was arrested in connection with Megan's disappearance.
- But Anna doesn't care about that; she's wondering what Rachel has to do with all this. Why was she at Scott's house?
- Tom tells Anna not to worry but Anna can't stop thinking about it. She wants to get away from her own neighborhood. No—she wants to get away from Rachel!
- Rachel has the nagging suspicion that the police won't find anything to convict Dr. Abdic; there has been no news since he was arrested.
- Plus he's kind of hot. A hot guy can't be a killer, can he?
- Rachel remembers that "Ted Bundy looked like Cary Grant" (15.5). Judge for yourself.
- Sure enough, that evening the suspect has been released without charge.
- The news causes Rachel to start drinking again.
- After keeping her hangover at bay with some coffee the next morning, Rachel checks her phone; she has a missed call from Scott.
- She calls him back but he does not give her a gracious hello: "You should have told me […] what you are" (15.30), he sneers into the phone.
- Scott says Dr. Abdic denied having an affair with Rachel, and Detective Riley told him that Rachel is a mentally unstable alcoholic. (Admittedly true.)
- Then Scott hangs up on her. Ouch.
- Rachel spends the next day wallowing in self-pity. She doesn't even pretend to go to work on the train.
- She's going to have to go to work for real soon, though, because her bank account is overdrawn.
- Tom calls, and finally tells Rachel what happened that Saturday night: Anna saw Rachel, and Rachel was drunk and abusive toward her, so Tom went out to find Rachel; she had fallen and cut her hand.
- Rachel denies cutting her hand, but Tom tells her there was blood on it.
- Tom says he went to get the car to bring Rachel home, but when he came back she was gone.
- Rachel asks if Tom saw Megan that night.
- He says he didn't and wonders if she did—and if she did something to Megan.
- "No, of course I didn't" (15.70), Rachel says.
- When Tom gets off the phone, Rachel imagines him going to play with his daughter; she feels miserable.
- On Monday morning, the girl is back on the train, going to her imaginary office.
- Oh wait, no—she decides to go find Scott.
- He's furious that she tracked him down, but he lets her into his house.
- She apologizes for lying about some things but tells him that most of what she said was the truth.
- They both still think Dr. Abdic did it.
- When Rachel gets home, Cathy is waiting for her.
- Cathy's learned that Rachel has been faking going to work for months. And guess what? She's furious.
- Rachel tries to explain to her, as if it's totally normal to pretend going to a job you got fired from.
- Since the jig is up, Rachel spends the next day drinking and watching the news.
- Good thing, too, because there's breaking news: A body has been found, and it's probably Megan's.
- Rachel spends the rest of the night trying to piece together her memories. Now she doesn't have a disappearance to solve; she needs to solve a murder.
- It's a couple months after we last saw Megan and only about a month before her disappearance.
- Megan lies in bed, feeling hot and suffocated.
- She says that talking to Kamal helped her; "He made me happier" (16.7).
- But she's still going to have to swallow her pride and her shame and "go to him" (16.9).
- Megan starts off by apologizing for what happened the night before, and then she tells him about her brief relationship with Mac after her brother died.
- She got pregnant, and even though she couldn't take care of the baby, she still had it, and named her Libby.
- One day, Mac left her for days.
- Megan was cold so she climbed into the bathtub with the baby. She fell asleep, though, and the baby drowned. Yikes.
- Interrupting this sob story, Megan gets a call from her friend Tara.
- Tara says Scott is looking for her so she needs to go home.
- Kamal tells Megan she can come back another time if she likes. She kisses him goodbye, and he doesn't pull away. Bad doctor.
- Rachel has another missed call from Scott overnight. She thinks it's weird that he called her less than forty-eight hours after his own wife was found dead, but she doesn't have time to think about that right now.
- Rachel meets her mother for lunch, and she gets a small loan from mom.
- On the way home, the red-haired man sits next to Rachel on the train.
- Thinking about that Saturday night brings back a bad memory of Rachel being hit and knocked to the ground.
- She's afraid of the red-haired man so she moves away from him to a different train car.
- When she sits down, she has another weird memory: a woman in a blue dress walking away from her. Anna.
- Tom is out drinking with his army buddies and Anna is home with the baby.
- This chapter is only a page… a page of Anna stewing about how much she hates Rachel.
- Anna, honey, we get it. Now go watch TV or something.
- Rachel, who can't let anything go, phones Scott and asks if he knows Anna.
- Scott invites Rachel to come by that afternoon, so she does.
- He tells her that Megan did some babysitting for Tom and Anna, but they didn't ever seem to get along.
- When Scott asks Rachel why she's asking about Anna, Rachel says she thought she saw Anna the night Megan went missing.
- Scott gets angry—he doesn't understand how Rachel could have seen Anna but not Megan.
- He throws a chair. He's also mad because he's a suspect now that Kamal has been released.
- Apparently Kamal told the police that Scott was an "emotional abuser" (19.40).
- Maybe he was—he tells Rachel the last thing he ever said to Megan was, "Go to hell you lying bitch" (19.44). Via text message. Charming.
- Scott calms down and tells Rachel to let him know if she remembers anything.
- This prompts Rachel to want to unlock her memories even more, and she considers seeing a therapist, "someone like Kamal Abdic" (19.62).
- So she makes an appointment to see the good doctor.
- At her appointment, she tells him a lot of truth about herself and the dissolution of her relationship.
- She hopes that when she reveals that Tom had an affair, Kamal might look guilty somehow. But he doesn't.
- So Rachel hasn't miraculously exposed the man as a murderer, but on the upside, the therapy actually seems to be helping.
- She makes an appointment to go back, even though she thinks he has a creepy smile and that she can "see the killer in him when he shows his teeth" (19.106). Are they filed to sharp points or something?
- That night, Rachel has a dream that she did something wrong but she doesn't know what.
- The dream leads her to thinking about how she and Tom tried to have a baby via in-vitro fertilization—it didn't work, and Rachel was devastated.
- They didn't have enough money to try again, but Tom took what money they did have and went to Vegas for four days.
- Rachel screamed at Tom, called him selfish, and broke their wedding photo.
- Rachel puts an end to the pity party and heads outside.
- Uh-oh… She sees a tabloid newspaper and buys it because of the headline: "WAS MEGAN A CHILD KILLER?" (19.117). Whelp, looks like the dead baby is out of the bag.
- It's the same day we left Rachel, and Anna sees the headline, too: "WAS MEGAN A CHILD KILLER?" (20.2).
- Anna is horrified—not because this private matter is national news, but because she used to employ Megan as a babysitter.
- Feeling the judgment from all the other moms, Anna runs from the coffee shop and returns home. She's glad Megan is dead.
- That evening, Anna starts a fight with Tom. She wants to move because the place reminds her of Rachel and Megan now.
- But Tom says there's not enough money to move, and the fight escalates.
- Afterward, Anna sits alone in the bedroom fuming and remembering how Megan never seemed to like the baby at all. (Well, it is an ugly baby. For more on that, though, swing by Anna's page in the "Characters" section.)
- Scott calls Rachel and asks to come over to her apartment; he can't take the media swarming around his place.
- So she agrees to let him in, and swoosh, he's there.
- He's had even worse news since they last talked: Megan was pregnant when she died.
- They haven't confirmed who the father is but Scott just knows it's his.
- Rachel fixes him some tea and lets him talk.
- They fall asleep, and Scott leaves before Rachel wakes up.
- The next day, Rachel goes to see Kamal the therapist.
- He is kind and comforting, and Rachel can't even imagine this man is the killer anymore.
- On the way home, Rachel reads another news story—Megan's other baby, the one that died, was found buried near some train tracks.
- Rachel calls Scott to offer condolences, and he wants company so Rachel rushes over.
- She doesn't feel good about Megan anymore: "She was a liar, a cheat. She was a killer" (21.84-21.85).
- It's a week after we last saw Megan in Chapter 16, and a week closer to her death.
- She finishes telling Kamal her accidental baby-killer story. Cue wavy flashback effect.
- Mac, her boyfriend, returns and helps her bury the baby.
- Then Mac leaves again… and "he never came back" (22.7). In the words of Taylor Swift, they are never ever getting back together. (Like, ever.)
- So Megan eventually left the shack, too, and she never contacted him again.
- She thinks Mac's probably dead, but she has no evidence of this, so Kamal suggests she try to find him online.
- Megan considers it and she feels good after this little therapy session; she doesn't even try to kiss her therapist. Wahoo.
- Sadly, though, the happiness doesn't last. On her way to the train station a man bumps into her and she falls, cutting her hand.
- Whoa, looks like Rachel and Scott did the locomotion last night, if you catch our drift.
- Rachel cleans up and walk-of-shames her butt right out of there.
- Of course she sees Anna on the street. Of course.
- Anna turns tail and bolts, and Rachel feels fear again—just like she did that night in the underpass.
- What could be worse than spin class? Seeing Rachel on her street again.
- Anna tells Tom to take care of it, and he says he'll sort things out, but Anna wonders if there's something up: "I think the time has come to take matters into my own hands" (24.6). No, that's not Dr. Claw talking about Inspector Gadget, that's Anna talking about Rachel.
- Tom brings Rachel to the lake.
- Because Rachel thinks there might be the possibility of reconciliation, she gets all gussied up for the meeting.
- Tom tells Rachel to stay away from Scott—Anna heard Scott and Megan fight a lot, and Tom worries he might be dangerous. He's still the prime suspect in Megan's disappearance, after all.
- He also offers to give Rachel some money.
- She promises to stay away from Scott, but she doesn't take his money.
- Rachel has a bad dream that night, and the next day she goes to therapy.
- She asks Dr. Abdic about hypnotherapy, but he won't do it and doesn't recommend it.
- During non-hypno therapy, Rachel talks about a time she got so drunk she tried to whack Tom with a golf club.
- At least, that's what Tom said happened—Rachel blacked out and didn't remember even doing it.
- That night, Rachel thinks more about what happened in the underpass.
- She remembers watching Anna getting into Tom's car, but Anna was supposed to be at home (because Anna told the police she saw Rachel that night).
- Rachel considers knocking on Tom and Anna's door to talk to them again, but she reconsiders and heads home.
- Anna does her darndest to remain as unlikeable as possible by thinking about how much better her relationship with Tom was when she was the mistress—she never cared about Rachel or her feelings even then.
- Later that night, Anna sees Rachel across the street; Anna is furious. Tom said he's taken care of her, so why is she still lurking around?
- Anna calls Detective Riley to tell her that she's seen Rachel leaving Scott's house quite a few times. She admits to us this is "a slight exaggeration" (26.57).
- Tom and Anna reconcile between the sheets, and Tom talks about how they should take a vacation.
- Anna is angry that Tom wants to take a vacation instead of saving up to move houses, which is what she really wants.
- The baby wakes up, interrupting the fight before it begins, but Tom is grumpy the rest of the morning.
- They get into a fight about their favorite subject: Rachel. Tom admits that he went to talk to Rachel in person and never told Anna about it.
- He says he only did it so she wouldn't get upset, though, and she buys it.
- Later, Anna goes to the park to worry.
- She remembers the good ol' days, back when Tom was cheating on Rachel with her: "I'm a good liar" (26.64), he used tell Anna.
- Anna talks herself out of her slump by convincing herself that Tom would never lie to her; she knows when he's telling the truth. (Yeah, right, honey—you keep thinking that.)
- That night, however, Anna realizes that Tom did lie to her: He said he had a meeting when he was really talking to Rachel in person.
- Growing suspicious, Anna cracks open a bottle of wine and tries to guess the password for Tom's laptop.
- Tom comes home before she can hack in, and she slams the laptop shut before he enters the house.
- Cathy gets Rachel a job interview, but instead of preparing for it, she decides to go see Scott when he calls her, even though she just promised never to see him again.
- She reads a story in the paper saying that Megan's baby daddy, Craig "Mac" McKenzie, actually died four years ago, so he isn't a suspect.
- When Rachel gets to Scott's place, he's been drinking.
- He's upset because the DNA results came back… and Megan's wasn't pregnant with his child. It was another man's baby. Yikes.
- Scott flips out and grabs Rachel, demanding she tell him about all of Megan's lovers.
- Oh wait—she can't because she never knew Megan.
- Scott gets even angrier because Detective Riley told Scott that Rachel was just "a sad little liar with no life" (27.36). Dang.
- He grabs Rachel's purse and shakes out all its contents.
- Her phone clatters onto the table, and Scott reads the screen—it's a text confirming her appointment with Dr. Abdic.
- The one time Rachel's phone is actually charged and it's terrible timing. Now Scott thinks Rachel was in cahoots with Abdic.
- He drags her upstairs and locks her in a spare bedroom. Wow, this went from zero to cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs really fast.
- Rachel scrambles around for something to defend herself when Scott comes back.
- She finds a broken photo of Scott and Megan and she grabs a shard of glass, just in case.
- Scott returns with the list Rachel made way back in Chapter 7.
- He mocks her and calls her pathetic and tells her to get out of his house. Rachel runs for it and escapes.
- She runs to Tom's house and leaves him a note through the mail slot saying she needs to talk to him; then she goes home.
- At home, Rachel calls the police, saying Scott imprisoned her in his house for a half hour.
- Detective Riley doesn't really take her seriously but says she can come to the station and make a statement if she chooses.
- The detective also tells Rachel to stay away from Scott—for real this time.
- Now that Rachel has seen how violent Scott is, she pretty much believes he did it.
- On her way home from giving her statement at the station, she bumps into the mysterious red-haired man again.
- This time she speaks to him and asks him about what happened the night Megan disappeared.
- Red, whose name is Andy, tells her that he found her in the underpass.
- She'd fallen and cut herself and her "bloke" (27.95) was heading the other direction. Could that have been Tom?
- Andy says the other man was with a woman. He offered to go after them, but Rachel told him not to.
- Rachel goes home, and this conjures up all sorts of memories.
- So it was Tom walking away and getting into the car with Anna.
- But if they were together, where was the baby? Anna never leaves the baby behind.
- The next day, Rachel calls Tom.
- She asks him why he never called after getting her note, but he says he never got a note.
- Anyway, Rachel asks him where Anna was that night, and Tom says she was at home with the baby, not in the car with him.
- This is getting strange, right?
- Tom tells Rachel she was a hot mess in the street that night and he was just trying to help.
- "Don't call anymore" (27.132) he says, and hangs up the phone.
- Rachel spends the rest of her Saturday moping, but at least she isn't drinking.
- As she's falling asleep, she has one more memory: Tom punching her in the face in the underpass. Yikes. Did that really happen?
- Anna and Tom have been fighting about Rachel… again.
- Turns out Anna threw the note away and never told Tom about it because of course she did.
- So Tom says that Anna is acting just like Rachel used to. Burn.
- This is the biggest insult for Anna because Rachel is a stupid doodie face and Anna is beautiful and smart and amazing, so there.
- Tom leaves to go to the gym, and Anna goes right back to typing in passwords on his laptop.
- She gets in, but she doesn't find anything exciting.
- However, she does find Tom's gym bag under the bed. Thing is, he's been gone an hour and hasn't come back for it. That's fishy.
- Oh, it's not just fishy, it's a whole freaking aquarium of weirdness because Tom has a secret mobile phone in his gym bag.
- Anna finds a charger that fits it and brings the phone back to life.
- It's filled with text messages of "times and dates, mostly" (28.20). It's basically a digital record of appointments… but appointments with whom?
- Anna assumes Tom has been secretly rendezvousing with Rachel.
- Tom comes home drunk, and Anna hides the secret phone before Tom takes her to bed.
- Early the net morning, Anna creeps downstairs and gets the phone.
- She calls the voicemail and listens to the voicemail greeting.
- It's not Tom's phone—it's a woman's voice on the outgoing message. (But which woman?)
- Before Anna can do anything, though, the light comes on upstairs. Tom is awake.
- Rachel realizes that "everything is a lie" (29.10).
- She didn't hit Tom with the golf club—he swung it at her.
- And she's positive Tom hit her that night in the underpass.
- One more memory returns to Rachel in this short chapter: It wasn't Anna getting into the car with Tom… it was Megan.
- Tom is awake, so Anna chucks the phone over the fence.
- She tells Tom she thought someone was outside so she went to check.
- Tom says the phone woke him up, and Anna's all what? What phone? I don't know anything about a phone?
- Real smooth, girl. Tom means the house phone—it rang, but no one was on the other line.
- They return to the house for coffee.
- Later the same morning, Rachel knocks on Tom and Anna's door, but no one answers.
- So Rachel just vaults over the fence in the back. Anna is there on the patio, and she doesn't look shocked at all to see Rachel.
- Anna says that Tom is at an "army boys get-together" (31.9).
- Perfect, thinks Rachel. She tells Anna they need to leave, but Anna just laughs.
- Anna is laughing at Rachel's ridiculous suggestion. Why should she leave?
- Rachel tries to convince Anna that Tom is crazy. He's supposed to be out with army buddies, but does he even have army buddies? Has she met the army buddies? Has she met Tom's family?
- No, Anna says she never met Tom's family because they were upset with him after he cheated on Rachel.
- Rachel responds with a bomb: She never met Tom's family either! "He lies about everything" (32.24), she says.
- Everything finally clicks into place for Anna. Tom was having an affair with Megan; it was her phone that Anna found in his gym bag.
- Rachel goes too far when she suggests that Tom killed Megan, though—Anna believes Tom could have been having an affair, but not that he would kill her.
- All of a sudden, Anna notices the look of shock on Rachel's face, and she turns around.
- Tom is at the kitchen window, watching them. Creepy…
- It's Friday, July 12, the day before Megan was killed, and the day Rachel saw her kiss another man way back in Chapter 3.
- Megan knows she's pregnant, and she knows she can't get rid of it, even though it isn't her husband's baby.
- She calls Kamal for advice, and he comes over.
- He tells her that she should decide whether she wants Scott to continue to take care of her and her child. If she does, tell him; if not, she's strong enough to do it on her own.
- He gives her a friendly kiss just as the train goes by.
- Megan asks if she and Kamal can just run away together and he laughs. "You and your baby will be fine" (33.18), he says. Little does he know tomorrow will be her last day…
- On Saturday, Megan gathers up the nerve to tell Scott that she's had an affair.
- Scott calmly and rationally talks it out with her like an adult.
- Just kidding. He throws their wedding photo at her head, breaking it (the photo, not her head), and then he choke slams her against a wall.
- Megan is shocked because this is the first time Scott has ever hurt her.
- He instantly tries to apologize, but she doesn't want to hear it.
- She goes to her closet and gets her secret cell phone. Even though she hasn't used it in a while, it still has some juice.
- She texts, "I need to talk to you. URGENT" (33.50)—but he never calls back.
- So despite Scott's protests, Megan storms out of the house and goes to the park.
- She uses the secret phone again, and this time he answers. She tells him if he doesn't come to the park, she'll go straight to his house.
- As Megan is about to leave, she sees her gentleman caller come from the underpass toward her. He tells her to get into the car with him, and she follows.
- Anna runs into the house, and Rachel reluctantly follows.
- As soon as Rachel is inside, Tom lays into her: "What on earth's wrong with you? Are you drunk?" (34.5).
- Rachel tells Tom that she knows he hit her in the underpass.
- He still denies it of course, so she continues, saying she knows he then got into the car with Megan.
- More denial flows from Tom, like a river in Egypt: "Last time we talked about this, you told me you saw me get into the car with Anna. Now it's Megan, is it? Who's it going to be next week? Princess Diana?" (34.15).
- Rachel tries to get Anna on her side, and Anna admits to finding Megan's phone in his bag.
- Tom confesses to the affair, but he doesn't feel guilty about it at all.
- He becomes really condescending, saying, "I loved you both, I really did, but you can both be incredibly weak" (34.34). Ugh.
- Anna gets offended, not because she called him weak, but because he's putting her and Rachel in the same category. Double ugh.
- Tom continues his emotional abuse and then he takes the baby from Anna and starts to walk away.
- Rachel drags Anna outside and tells her to distract Tom while she calls the police. Um, Rachel, what have you been doing for the last two pages?
- Rachel dials 999, which is how the British spell 911, but of course Tom finds her, kicks her, and takes her phone away.
- He drags her inside, where Anna isn't trying to distract him at all. She's making lunch like this is just another normal day.
- It's the night of Megan's death.
- She's in the car with Tom, and he has blood on his hand. (It's Rachel's blood.)
- Tom takes Megan to the woods to talk, and boy, does she have some talk to talk: She tells him she's pregnant, and the kid is probably his.
- He tells her to have an abortion, which makes her angry.
- "I'm not going away. I am going to make you pay for this" (35.27), she screams.
- Now Tom is angry, and he hits Megan with something in the head, killing her.
- Tom, Rachel, and Anna sit in the living room like one big happy psychopathic family.
- Tom, manspreading all over the couch, gives a little super villain monologue about what happened the night Megan died.
- He admits to smacking Rachel in the head, taking Megan out to the woods, and beating her with a rock.
- He says he didn't mean to kill her. Why do women have such fragile skulls?
- So Tom buried her in the woods. He planned to pin the murder on Scott, but didn't have time to do it. The life of a modern murderer: so over-scheduled.
- Tom and Anna start fussing over the baby, so Rachel makes a run for it.
- Whack. She's hit on the back of her head by a bottle and goes down.
- As she loses consciousness, Tom drags Rachel into the kitchen. Does he expect her to make him a sandwich, too?
- Your husband's ex-wife is lying unconscious on the floor because your husband just hit her with a bottle after confessing to murdering his mistress. What do you do?
- If you're Anna, you're glad that meddling ex is out of your life, once and for all.
- Tom tells Anna they'll move away, just like she always wanted. Anna considers letting him get away with killing Megan, and soon Rachel. Oh em gee.
- Rachel regains consciousness.
- She's scared because she knows Anna won't contact the police.
- Because Tom isn't just a murderer but a creep, too, he starts making out with Rachel against her will before killing her.
- While she's enduring that, she takes something from the kitchen drawer.
- Rachel catches him off guard, shoving him backwards, stomping his foot, then kneeing him in the face.
- She runs outside, but Tom catches up to her and tackles her to the grass.
- As the train speeds by, Rachel reaches into her pocket, gets a corkscrew, and jams it into Tom's neck. Whoa—that's not wine pouring out.
- We flash forward two days.
- Rachel is on the train like she was at the beginning. But unlike the beginning, she's sober. Yay.
- She recalls what happened after she stabbed Tom. Here it is:
- Anna actually called the police. Not only that, but she told them the truth: that Rachel killed Tom in self-defense.
- She even lies a little to make it more convincing, saying Tom came at Rachel with the corkscrew but Rachel turned it against him.
- Rachel says that all of Tom's lies came out in the newspaper. He lied about everything—his army buddies, his parents, everything.
- After killing her lying, murderous ex-husband, Rachel needs a vacation, so she goes to a hotel on the Norfolk coast to relax.
- She realizes that she hasn't had a drink in three weeks. Wow, good for her.
- Before the book ends, Rachel remembers one last detail, something Anna didn't tell the police: After Rachel stuck the corkscrew in Tom's neck, Anna came outside and twisted it in deeper, just to make sure he was dead. Yikes.
- With that pleasant memory on the brain, Rachel curls under the covers to get some sleep. She has to get up early in the morning, "to catch the train" (38.46). The end.