Go, extremely angry about Nick's affair, decides to start looking for a lawyer since she is convinced the secret will eventually be revealed and incriminate Nick. After a nightmare, Nick decides he needs to visit his house. While he is there, Go phones to tell him that Ellen Abbott, the host of a crime-related talk show is doing a special on Amy's case that day. Nick watches the show, which presents a very negative perspective on him, drawing on photos and comments from Shawna Kelly which suggest Nick is the one flirting with her. After the show, Nick and Margo discuss it angrily, and she advises him to do something to show how committed he is to finding his wife. Nick drives to St. Louis to confront Desi. Desi lives in a beautiful mansion, and Nick is surprised by Desi's polish and refinement. Desi also seems to be quite perceptive about Amy's personality and her ability to manipulate people. He denies having been obsessive about Amy, now or at any point in the past, and also refutes the story about his suicide attempt. While at the house, Nick meets Desi's mother, Jacqueline Collings, who bears a striking resemblance to Amy, and she makes it clear that Desi has had no contact with Amy for years.
On the way back to Missouri, Nick receives a call from the detectives telling him they need to meet with him. He tries to tell them to investigate Desi further, but they brush off his concerns. The detectives are now more direct with him, pointing out holes in his story of having been at the beach the morning of Amy's disappearance, and revealing that the disorder in the living room doesn't match what would have happened if there had actually been a struggle. Rather, it looks like someone staged the room to give the appearance that a struggle had taken place. Even more damningly, forensic investigations have revealed that a large amount of blood, the same type as Amy's, was spilled in the kitchen, and then cleaned up, with some traces remaining. They interrogate him pointedly about the state of his marriage, and Nick tries to balance admitting to problems with insisting that he and Amy were genuinely happy. They also show Nick shocking evidence: a number of credit cards, opened in his name, with a huge amount of debt on them. He claims to know nothing about this, and is also very surprised when the detectives reference photos that seem to support the idea that Amy and Noelle were in fact close friends. Overwhelmed, and knowing how bad the situation looks, Nick says that he should get a lawyer.
In the aftermath of the Ellen Abbot show, Nick knows that he is getting bad press and being cast in a suspicious light. On the sixth day after Amy's disappearance, a candlelight vigil is held in her honor, and Nick hopes to use this occasion to regain public sympathy. He makes a statement expressing his love for Amy and his hope that whoever is holding her will let her go, but is interrupted by an outburst from Noelle. She announces herself as Amy's best friend, and accuses Nick of having harmed his wife. She also reveals that Amy was pregnant.
Stunned, Margo and Nick hurry away from the vigil. Margo asks if Nick knew that Amy was pregnant, as do the Elliotts, and he says that he thinks it would be unlikely, saying that they weren't trying and weren't having sex regularly. To Go, he admits that he and Amy had briefly pursued fertility treatments, but then Amy had decided she didn't want children after all. Frustrated, Go explains to Nick that he has been lying a lot and she is no longer sure what to believe. She implies that she would still love him, even if he has in fact killed his wife, but Nick firmly denies it. Meanwhile, he is still meeting with Andie regularly, since he worries that if they cut contact, she will become upset and possibly reveal their affair. Shortly after Noelle's announcements, the detective receive confirmation from Amy's medical records that she was indeed pregnant.
The next day, reeling from the evidence accumulating against him, Nick phones a lawyer named Tanner Bolt, who specializes in representing husbands accused of killing their wives. He travels to New York to meet with him, and Tanner tells Nick that he is going to need Nick's full cooperation. Tanner says a key strategy will also be to find an alternate suspect, and mentions Amy's ex-boyfriend Tommy O'Hara, revealing that while the two were dating, Amy had accused him of rape, but then dropped the charges. Nick tells Tanner about Andie, admitting that the news about Amy's pregnancy has upset Andie. Tanner tells Nick that he will need to end things with Andie without upsetting her. Tanner agrees to take on the case and prepares to fly to Missouri.
As Nick travels home, he reviews the final treasure hunt clue and figures out that Amy must be leading him to the woodshed behind his sister's house. As soon as he is back in Missouri, he rushes to the shed.
Amy's diary recounts Nick's reaction after the death of his mother. She tries to be loving and supportive, but Nick is even more curt with her, and becomes sexually aggressive with her as well. She describes the pleasure she takes in spending time with Noelle's young children, and one day, she suggests that she and Nick could try to have a child. He reacts extremely negatively, rejecting the idea, and expressing his anger and frustration. As time passes, Nick becomes angrier and rougher, starting to push and shove Amy. She becomes more and more fearful, and one day she goes to the mall to buy a gun.
Amy's final diary entry reveals that about a week prior to her disappearance, she realized that she was displaying symptoms of pregnancy, and took a pregnancy test which was positive. Excited and happy, she shared this news with Noelle. While she is committed to having the baby, she is also very afraid of Nick's reaction to the news. The entry ends with her making a dark joke about the possibility of Nick killing her when he finds out that she is pregnant.
As secrets continue to be uncovered, the situation looks worse and worse for Nick. He can't explain any of the evidence that suggests that Amy's apparent abduction was actually staged, and that she was violently attacked in the house. Nick's decision to hire a lawyer reflects his dawning awareness that no one is going to be convinced by his claims of innocence.
The character of Tanner Bolt reveals the way that crime can be viewed as a business. Bolt understands the way that public image and personality affect the outcome of a trial more than guilt or innocence. He doesn't care whether or not Nick is actually guilty, focusing instead on how to make Nick seem like a good guy.
While Nick tries to boost his public image, the police and the media are increasingly turning against him. The biggest blow to his credibility is the revelation that Amy was pregnant when she disappeared. Nick is genuinely stunned, but it seems unbelievable to everyone that a husband would not know that his wife was pregnant. By this point, even Margo, Nick's closest ally, is having trouble believing him. Margo's hint that she would love her brother even if he did kill Amy parallels the reader's reaction at this point.
The subject of pregnancy is emotional for Nick because it was a source of disappointment and strain in his marriage. He wanted to have children, and Amy perpetually delayed doing so. This is one of several points where Nick's narrative and Amy's diary narrative directly contradict each other. The diary claims that Amy eagerly wanted to have children and that it was Nick who rejected this idea.
Amy's pregnancy adds an additional layer of horror to her disappearance and possible murder. It also raises the public outcry to find whoever took her. At this point, all the signs, as well as evidence from Amy's diary, suggest to the reader that there must be something that Nick is hiding.