"...When exile somehow hit her out of a clear blue sky, she didn't fight it the way I did: she reached out for it with both hands, swallowed it whole and made it her own. She had had the sense and the guts to let go of her ruined old self and walk away so simply, start over again, start fresh and clean as morning."
Over the next week, Cassie works meticulously with Frank on every possible detail of her Lexie Madison imitation. She feels cautious about making assumptions about Lexie because they're unable to tell whether her personality was something that she constructed for the purpose of fitting in with these friends. One night Sam comes over for dinner and asks Cassie to profile the case. She says that the type of wound and the way the body was positioned suggests that the murderer and Lexie knew each other. Sam is leaning towards the idea that somebody in the house is the killer; Frank isn't ruling it out, but he and Cassie don't seem as convinced of this. Meanwhile Frank is feeding lies into the rumor mill about what's going on with Cassie and ensuring that the housemates don't have any reasons to doubt that Lexie is still recovering in a hospital.
Before they're about to start up the operation, Frank tells Cassie that for the first several days he only wants her to focus on not getting caught and not getting killed. He also gives her an awkward pep talk about how shaky she's been lately, ensuring her that if she doesn't panic, it can just be part of the Lexie front if she behaves erratically. On the last night in her flat Cassie spends the night with Sam, and he confesses he's been relieved to see her a lot happier lately even though he doesn't like her involvement with the case.
On Sunday afternoon Frank picks up Cassie and Sam to drive them to Glenskehy. Cassie has a sudden shot of nervousness just when she's leaving her home, but generally feels excited and prepared. Finally she's dropped off at Whitethorn House, gets a strangely hesitant but happy greeting from the "Fantastic Four," and is whisked off for some chatting in the garden before dinner. At dinner Cassie simply strives to keep up, feeling overwhelmed by the closeness of the entire group. Daniel starts talking about how the police were searching Lexie's room, then implies that they lied to the police when they said Lexie doesn't have any kind of diary, but that Lexie is the only one who would know where it was anyway.
Cassie slips off to bed early and then sleeps in late. Over breakfast Daniel tries to prod at her about how much she remembers, telling her that if she does start to remember something she should talk to him or Abby about it before going to the police. She takes the day off of college and searches the house when she's alone. Incredibly, she finds Lexie's diary rather quickly behind a board in the bathroom: It turns out to only be a datebook, and a very cryptic one at that. There are some sets of numbers and abbreviations, and a couple dates set with the letter 'N' next to it. Cassie can't think of any acquaintances of Lexie's whose names started with 'N' and isn't even sure it's for a name rather than a location.
She calls Frank and gets some very interesting news: A Victoria Harding who knew Cassie during her former undercover operation claims she ran into Lexie as recently as 2003, while Cassie is sure she hasn't seen her since before she was stabbed. This is sure to be the moment when Lexie realized she had a look-alike, as she even went out for coffee with Harding, presumably to collect more information. What ends up being suggested is that this wasn't the first time Lexie assumed a new identity.
That night when Cassie puts on her runners, Daniel expresses concern about whether she should be going out for a walk, then makes another comment that seems to be testing for how much she remembers about the evening Lexie got stabbed. Rafe becomes very irritable, and is waiting for her outside when she returns from her walk. She sits with him and asks if he's been angry with her; Rafe begins to get very emotional, asking her if she's thought about what the past week was like for them, describing the disturbing way the house was falling apart while she was recovering. He says that he thinks they all would have killed each other if she hadn't been alright in the end. She assures him that she's not going anywhere and manages to clear the air between them, but for the first time she feels a very difficult amount of guilt about how she's deceiving everyone.
When she's in her bedroom later, Cassie reflects on the fact that one of the unusual things about this murder case is that she's for once focusing more on the victim and almost forgetting about the killer. For a terrible moment all the behavior of the housemates throughout the evening seems to point to the fact that Lexie committed suicide and the others may have been trying to cover it up, but she quickly realizes that's too unlikely.1) Why is Cassie so hard on herself about how much everything is upsetting Sam? Does she just feel guilty about making him worry about her or is there some deeper issue they're not really talking about?
2) Sam goes from being convinced Cassie isn't in her right mind lately to admitting that Operation Mirror is bringing some of her old bounce back; on the other hand, she admitted in one of last week's chapters that she thought there was a good chance she would end up getting killed doing this operation. Do you think the choices she's made at this point are healthy/unhealthy/a strange combination of both? If you've read on, does your idea of this change throughout the novel?
3) What are/were your initial impressions of Lexie's group? Do you find any of them particularly likable?
4) How does the atmosphere of a location like Whitethorn House add to this story?
5) How do you feel about Rafe's ghost story about hearing Lexie's voice in the garden? Does the story have any other little suggestions of the supernatural?
Next week we'll cover chapters 8-10.