Rand and Nick are sitting in the empty Find Amy Dunne headquarters in the wee hours of morning, waiting for the cops to check on Lonnie—the vagrant who told Rand and Nick that Amy had come to the mall on Valentine’s Day looking to buy a gun. Rand wonders aloud what Amy could have been afraid of, and Nick suggests perhaps Amy was afraid Desi would come looking for her. Rand says he never liked Desi, who was always “possessive” of Amy. Nick suggests that Noelle Hawthorne, too, could have been obsessed with Amy—Rand admits that yesterday, Noelle approached him and “quoted some Amazing Amy stuff.”
The discovery that Amy wanted to buy a gun makes Nick look bad. As he and Rand sit around discussing what they’ve discovered, Nick tries to pull focus off of himself and cast doubt on other people in their lives. He wants to spin a narrative which allows him to keep looking like the “good guy.”
In the morning, Rand and Nick meet Boney and Gilpin at a nearby pancake house. The detectives chastise Nick and his father-in-law for trying to take the investigation into their own hands. Boney fills the men in on her questioning of Lonnie—the woman he saw at the mall was definitely Amy, but Boney doubts he has anything to do with her disappearance. Boney and Gilpin state that they’re looking for “a different kind of motive”—something more “personal.”
Boney and Gilpin are not swayed by the new information uncovered at the mall. They have their own narrative they’re exploring—or creating—and it is one of “personal” violence against Amy.
Boney tells Nick they have a few more questions for him. They tell him that one of Nick and Amy’s neighbors has told the police that the couple were heard loudly having an argument the night before Amy’s disappearance. Boney tenderly asks what the argument was about. Nick hurriedly says it was a “nothing argument,” which is why he never mentioned it to the police. He claims they were fighting over what to do about their anniversary dinner—but settled the argument and were laughing and joking together again within the hour.
Nick is trying so hard to keep himself from looking bad that he’s actually making himself look worse. By telling lies of omission to the police, he makes it seem like there are even more lies he’s not telling them—and yet he can’t get out of his spiral of half-truths.
After breakfast, Rand and Nick drive back to the hotel. Back at headquarters, Nick decides to dial the number for Hilary Handy—one of Amy’s high-school stalkers. Hilary tries to hang up on Nick, but he calls her back and tells her Amy’s gone missing—then asks if the two have had any contact lately. Hilary asks if the call relates to “bullshit back in high school,” and insists she “learned [her] lesson”—if she were to see Amy on the street now, she’d “run the other way.” She hangs up on Nick. After a couple of strange interactions with Shawna, the woman from the search, and Noelle Hawthorne—who seemingly threatens Nick with information about Amy she wants to bring to the police—Nick leaves the volunteer center and drives to Bill’s vacant house. Amy has referenced it in her third clue.
The strange conversation with Hilary—not to mention the odd run-ins he has with Shawna and Noelle—make it seem like Nick is surrounded by women who want to make him look guilty. Nick knows he needs to keep up with his own investigation and stay one step ahead of the police in order to remain in control of the narrative of what’s going on.
It is 10:00 p.m. by the time Nick gets to the house, which has been for sale for over a year without a single offer. Entering the house, Nick has trouble entering the alarm code—though the code is his own birthday, the alarm pad won’t accept it. The intruder alert goes off, and Nick waits for his cell phone to ring as the alarm company calls him—but it doesn’t. Nick begins sweating, and after a minute, his phone rings. The call center on the other end asks for the password: Amy’s first pet’s name. Nick, frustrated with Amy’s endless trivia, snaps at the woman on the other end, and she threatens to call the police. Nick, angry, hangs up. He calls back and speaks to someone else, who obliges him and turns off the alarm.
Something is off at the house—and yet Nick blames the alarm code malfunction on Amy, on the call center receptionist, on anyone but himself. As the novel goes on, it seems as if Nick wants to be a tertiary character in his own story—not responsible for any of the twists and turns, but rather a victim of circumstance. He blames his problems overwhelmingly on the women around him, showing his contempt and disrespect for the women he sees as cardboard cutouts of people.
As Nick gathers his thoughts, he sees Amy’s next clue sitting on the kitchen counter. Again, it is a note praising Nick’s warmth and calling him a “good man.” Nick’s throat tightens as he imagines Amy standing beside him. He opens the envelope marked “FOURTH CLUE” and reads the rhyme inside. It references a place “where you store goodies for anniversary five” and warns Nick that a “big surprise” awaits him there. Nick can’t figure out the clue though, and desperately rereads it over and over again, his frustration mounting as he fears he won’t finish Amy’s treasure hunt. Thinking of all the women who have messed with him throughout the day—Boney, Noelle, Shawna, Hilary, the woman at the security company, and even Amy—Nick thinks there’s only one woman he can be around right now.
Nick grows flustered and frustrated by Amy’s fourth clue. He knows he can’t solve it yet—and thus can’t get ahead of the police. He is angry and upset, and instead of directing his anger at his own incompetence, he blames the stress and frustration of his day on all the women he’s come in contact with.
Nick heads to Go’s house, and his twin makes him a grilled cheese and pours him a beer. She asks Nick if he wants to watch a ball game to take his mind off the investigation, but Nick is anxious and upset. Go tries to distract him by playing one of their old games—telling the longest, most boring, most pointless story she can think of—and Nick feels a surge of gratitude for his sister. He kisses her on the cheek. After the baseball game ends, Go heads to bed. Nick sits alone on the sofa flipping through TV channels and magazines. Without warning, his disposable phone buzzes in his pocket. He flips it open to reveal a text message: “im outside open the door,” it reads.
Go is the only woman Nick really likes—and the narcissism of that, considering she’s his twin, is plain to see. Go, though, doesn’t even know what’s really going on with Nick—as the chapter ends on a cliffhanger, it becomes clear that whoever is at the other end of Nick’s burner phone is about to be revealed.