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Two Can Keep a Secret

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Ellery and Ezra Corcoran have landed in Vermont and Ellery’s baggage is not there. This is not a good omen and her twin brother is less than sympathetic. The twins have come to live with their grandmother, a woman they haven’t seen for ten years and have no relationship with because their mom, Sadie, a wanna-be actress and actual drug addict is in court-ordered rehab. Nana has come to pick them up along with her neighbor Melanie Kilduff. Melanie’s daughter was Lacey, the beautiful blonde homecoming queen who was murdered and found in the horror-themed park five years ago. Lacey’s murder isn’t the first on the street. As they are driving to Echo Ridge, they are caught in a hail storm. Nana shouts “stop!” after seeing something in the road. When they get out to check, they find a body, neck in the wrong angle, eyes open, staring at nothing.

The next day, the police come to talk to them about the body they found. It was Jason Bowman, a popular science teacher at the local high school. The police officer, Ryan Rodriguez, is no more than five-years older than the twins, and in Ellery’s opinion, not very competent as he’s so clumsy. Ryan was in Lacey’s class, as was the prime suspect in her murder, her boyfriend Declan Kelly. The twins will be in school with Declan's younger brother, Malcolm. After Officer Rodriguez leaves, Ellery goes to unpack what little belongings she has with her until her suitcase turns up, mainly books and some photographs. One photo is of Ellery and Ezra and another is of their mom Sadie with her twin Sarah as teenagers. Sadie never talks about Sarah and Ellery craves information though she is sure that Sarah’s disappearance was the start of Sadie’s problems.

Malcolm’s mom married Peter Nilsson after her marriage ended, the tipping point being Lacey Kilduff’s murder investigation and the Kelly family being right at the center. That situation was fucked up, but so is the Nilsson house and the whole of the last five years. Declan was the prime suspect in Lacey’s murder because it’s always the boyfriend and though there was no evidence, Declan was found guilty by the community and run out of town. Now Malcolm lives in the plush but sterile Nilsson house with his High School Queen Bee step-sister Katrin. It feels like Peter has a bit of a savior complex, and Malcolm is hoping he can extend it to help Declan. Malcolm asks Peter about his dinner with Ben Coates, former Echo Ridge mayor, who runs a political consulting business in hopes that he will give a favorable reference for Declan.

Tonight is the Lacey Kilduff Memorial Scholarship fundraiser and Malcolm and his mother will be attending for the first time as new members of the Nilsson family. When they enter, everyone goes silent which is hecking awkward. Apparently they are guilty by association still, and it isn’t until Melanie steps forward and welcomes them that things return to normal. As Melanie heads back to her table, Malcolm notices two new teenagers sitting there, which is interesting. The Nilssons sit with Katrin’s boyfriend Theo’s family and his best friend Kyle McNulty and his family. Theo and Kyle are bullies and asshats. Malcolm manages to escape to the bathroom and does not want to go back inside the banquet hall, but then he smells something strong and chemically. Following the smell outside, he finds a spray paint can on the ground and red letters MURDERLAND THE SEQUEL COMING SOON painted on the cultural center sign. The new teenage girl catches Malcolm looking pretty guilty with the empty can of spray paint in his hand.

Later Ellery is texting with her friend Lourdes back in California when she gets a FaceTime from her mom. Sadie should be in rehab with no contact, not cold-calling her. Sadie mentions Ellery’s hair and that Ellery will meet all her exes like Peter Nilsson, yuck, and gives her an odd expression when Ellery mentions Officer Ryan Rodriguez because of his over-reaction at Lacey’s funeral. On Saturday night Ellery and Ezra head to Fright Farm, formerly Murderland, the horror theme park. Ellery picks up job applications for them both before they head to the games. At the shooting gallery there is a posturing drunk jackass, Vance Puckett, challenging anyone and scaring Brooke Bennett, the worker at the stall. Ezra encourages Ellery to step forward as she has a freakishly good aim. Vance manages to knock over ten of the twelve targets, but Ellery hits eleven. As thanks for making Vance move on, Brooke offers to hand in their job applications and put in a good word for them.

Mia Kwon and Malcolm are hanging out at the Nilsson house. Daisy, Mia’s older sister, is home and never talks to anyone or leaves her room. She got out of Echo Ridge, went to college, got a job and quit it all to come home for secret reasons. They talk about Mr. Bowman who was Malcolm’s favorite teacher and the one who encouraged him to start playing drums and join the school band. Malcolm and Mia are going to visit Mr. Bowman’s grave to leave flowers since Malcolm missed the funeral because he was on vacation with his mom. As they are leaving the cemetery, they notice something red on a mausoleum and see dolls dangling. There is a message scrawled in paint saying I’M BACK PICK YOUR QUEEN ECHO RIDGE HAPPY HOMECOMING and it’s right next to Lacey’s grave. Shit, Malcolm is going to have to report it to the police. Vance Puckett is walking through the cemetery and spots Malcolm, Mia and the vandalism, but he doesn’t accuse them of any wrongdoing and tells them to run along and report it. As Malcolm is getting into the car, Vance tells Malcolm to let his sister know to lay low, things might get dangerous for her.

It’s the twins' first day at their new school. As they walk down the hallway, someone catcalls Mia and she flips them off, making Ezra know who his new friend will be. They also meet Katrin who gives them the Mean Girls once over and at lunchtime invites Ellery to her table with her friends Brooke and Viv. The conversation turns to the recent vandalism, Mr. Bowman’s death and homecoming. The court is, of course, a total shoe-in: Katrin, Brooke and Viv. The talk about the vandalism threats actually energizes Ellery because she is a True Crime Super Nerd. While Viv, the school journalist, listens to Ellery, Katrin is unimpressed, guess that’s the end of sitting at the popular kids' table. Malcolm walks by then and Brooke comments, saying he looks cute despite the fact that she's dating Kyle. Katrin says he isn’t too bad, Viv thinks Declan should be in jail, oh and guess what, he’s back in town.

Malcolm meets Declan at Bukowski’s Tavern because he wants to know why he’s back in town and why he didn’t tell him. With Daisy’s return and the vandalism it’s literally the worst timing. Declan says he’s only going to be here a short time and blows up over the vandalism. Declan tells Malcolm he has a good thing at the Nilsson's and might get college out of it but doesn’t believe Peter will speak to Ben Coates for him. As Malcolm walks home, he spots Ellery with a suitcase. As they talk, an oncoming car driven by Katrin speeds dangerously toward them and almost runs them over. Ellery leaves Malcolm to unpack and then goes to the store with Nana. Ellery takes this opportunity to ask about her Aunt Sarah as Sadie never speaks about her. Nana talks warmly about Sarah who sounds awesome.

At school, Kyle McNulty is terrorizing Malcolm but Ellery interrupts and asks Malcolm for help finding the auditorium for the school-wide assembly. Sitting together, Malcolm, Mia, and the twins spitball about the homecoming court announcement. There is no surprise about the boys: Theo, Kyle and Troy Latkins (this is the one and only mention of him), however the ladies are Katrin, Brooke and Ellery. Ellery is genuinely shocked, who voted for her? She's been at this school for like three hours. It wasn’t her brother or two friends, and she certainly did not nominate herself. On Friday morning, Katrin does her usual daredevil driving to school with Malcolm, and then they arrive to a lot of whispering in the halls. The homecoming court's lockers have been vandalized! REMEMBER MURDERLAND, PRINCESS? I DO

Saturday morning, Ellery and Ezra are at the library with a pile of high school yearbooks. Ellery thinks it’s weird that members of Lacey’s class have left and come back, but why? She studies the pictures of Daisy, Declan, Ryan and Lacey, trying to figure out Lacey's murder, while Ezra looks at the pictures of Sadie and Sarah. They have work at the Fright Farm in an hour and Ellery suggests they stop by Mia’s to meet the mysterious Daisy. Before they leave, Ellery takes a few pictures of their research. As they walk up to Mia’s house they see Daisy drive up, look at her phone, put her head on the steering wheel visibly upset before driving off again.

On Thursday, Malcolm heads to Mia’s after band practice and discovers that the vandal has been busy! CORCORANS MAKE KILLER QUEENS was scrawled on the side of Armstrong’s Auto Repair, a bloody mess of raw meat was left on Brooke’s car, and Katrin’s school picture was added to Mr. Bowman’s memorial with its eyes gouged out and RIP October 5 written on it. The reporters are also starting to swarm. As Malcolm and Mia head out for dinner and to meet the twins, Katrin texts wanting Malcolm to ask Brooke to homecoming as she’s broken up with Kyle. Mia points out that it’s obvious that Malcolm like-likes Ellery and should ask her, not Brooke. Before they leave the house, Mia sees Daisy backing out the driveway despite saying she’s in for the night. Mia orders Malcolm to follow her because she must find out what is going on with her sister and learns that Daisy is going to therapy. When they head to meet the twins, they spot Brooke having a very intense conversation with Vance Puckett who is painting over the vandalism on the auto shop. They can’t make out what is being said, but Brooke’s expression looks determined.

Sadie calls again, this time on Ezra’s phone and the twins tell their mom they’re going to a pep rally at Fright Farm. Typically Sadie makes Ellery uncomfortable about Homecoming though they don’t tell her Ellery is on the court or being targeted by the vandal. Ellery decides to turn the tables and make Sadie uncomfortable by asking questions about her homecoming. Sadie claims she can’t remember even though she was Queen. Eventually, Sadie gives them one piece of information, she went to homecoming with Vance Puckett. Ellery asks who Sarah went with but Sadie fakes needing to go and disconnects. Office Rodriguez arrives then to take the twins to Fright Farm thanks to Nana's insistence for Ellery’s safety. Finding Mia inside the big tent, they notice reporters are there. As the coach gives his roaring speech, the lights flicker off and then the LED screen flashes showing a picture of Lacey in her homecoming crown. The picture then rips in two and is replaced with Katrin, Brooke and Ellery’s pictures. SOON is scrawled across them. The reporter stands up and approaches the coach.

The next night, as Malcolm goes to pick Ellery and Ezra from work at the Fright Farm, he gets a text from Declan who is back in town. Malcolm heads into Fright Farm to find the twins who are at a staff party. He finds Ellery but Ezra is nowhere to be seen. When they go to grab some water they have a near-kiss moment interrupted by a loud scratching noise and someone shouting. It's Brooke! She is on the floor, drunk, surrounded by paper clips, and cryptically she says “I need to get it back. I shouldn’t have … I just shouldn’t have. I have to show them. It’s not right, it’s not okay.” Malcolm offers to take Brooke home after dropping the twins off.

On Sunday morning while Ellery is looking at photos of Sadie at homecoming and Ezra is looking at her date, Vance, who was hot back then, Ryan Rodriguez comes over looking worried and slightly out of breath. He needs to check that Ellery is okay because Brooke didn’t make it home last night. The police obviously don’t know that she was drunk at the party and that Malcolm gave her a ride. Ellery needs to tell Officer Rodriguez but she really doesn’t want to.

Officer McNulty is sitting in the Nilsson kitchen asking Katrin about Brooke. Malcolm’s mom asks him if he saw Brooke last night, which reminds Malcolm of when the police interrogated Declan about Lacey. Back in Nana’s kitchen, Ellery tells Ryan about the paperclips and Brooke making jokes, she also tells him about the random babbling about needing to get something back. Meanwhile in the Nilsson kitchen, Malcolm tells Officer McNulty everything. Repeatedly. Officer McNulty asks about his relationship with Brooke and Malcolm says they don’t have one, but then Katrin decides to add that Brooke thought he was cute and thought she’d snuck into his room the other week when she’d slept over. Damnit Katrin. Malcolm denies seeing Brooke then but does tell Officer McNulty about seeing Brooke and Vance Puckett when he was with Mia; however, Vance spent last night in the drunk tank. Malcolm is so tempted to tell him that Declan is back in town but doesn’t.

Sunday afternoon Malcolm texts Ellery, he wants to talk and she and Ezra agree he can come over. While Ezra is one-hundred percent ready to believe that Malcolm hasn't done anything wrong, Ellery’s True Crime-filled brain wants to know more. Malcolm wanted to tell them he drove Brooke home, saw her go inside and that’s it, and that Katrin is spreading lies that he and Brooke have been hooking up.

On Monday morning, Brooke is still missing, and Malcolm is getting a first hand view of what Declan went through. Homecoming isn’t canceled, yet, but it’s scaled back. At lunch Ellery and Ezra leave the lunchline and Katrin waves for Ellery to join her, but she sits with her friends Malcolm and Mia. Ellery says the one time she sat with Brooke at lunch, she looked worn down. After school at Mia’s house, Daisy surprises everyone by skulking downstairs and saying she’s going out, so Mia wants to follow her! Ellery and Ezra quickly follow behind Mia, so, you know, not thinking Mia is weird for stalking her own sister. Instead of the therapist, this time Mia heads to the next town over into an apartment complex and knocks at one of the doors. When it opens, she’s wrapped into someone's arms. It's Declan!

After leaving Daisy and Declan, they head to Chuck E. Cheese. They don’t know how long Daisy and Declan have been in a relationship and it’s a terrible time for people to find out so it’s obvious why they’re keeping it quiet. Ellery proposes that Daisy and Declan have hooked up previously, maybe back at high school. Ezra suggests Mia blackmail Daisy by telling their parents what she saw to get more information, and Mia is not opposed to such underhanded tactics. Malcolm gets a text from his mom about a search party being organized for the next day during school hours and a link to a news article in the Boston Globe. Viv is quoted in the story and her theory is word-for-word what Ellery said a couple of weeks ago; Viv has changed her story as she believed it was all related before.

On Wednesday Nana gives the twins a ride to work at the Fright Farm and will pick them up too despite it being after her bedtime. Homecoming is still on but the court has been disbanded so technically Ellery is no longer a princess but Nana wants to be cautious. Sadie calls before they start their shift because she’s heard about Brooke and guessed Ellery was also targeted. When Sadie tells Ellery she should have told her, Ellery blows up and points out that Sadie hasn’t earned any rights to know anything and lists all the things Sadie doesn’t talk about that obviously contribute to her addiction problems. Sadie goes quiet and admits that on the night Sarah went missing, she was losing her virginity to her homecoming date when she should have been with Sarah and that she blames herself for her twin's disappearance. Sadie needs to tell her more, but not right now. Hanging up, Ellery spots Vance Puckett at the shooting gallery game. She challenges him to best two out of three. Ellery purposely, painfully, loses, and mentions that she’s Sadie’s daughter. Ellery is no actress like her mother but is convincing enough for the town drunk with her crocodile tears in trying to get information about Brooke and what Vance knows. He admits that Brooke asked him how to pick a lock but that he has no idea how to do that and that she should probably just use paperclips because that's what they do in the movies. Well, that answers why Brooke had paperclips scattered around her, but what was she trying to unlock?

Search parties for Brooke have extended past daytime hours and Peter is going to help but tells Malcolm to stay home. Katrin meanwhile is getting frostier with Malcolm, doesn’t want him to go to Homecoming and keeps accusing him of sneaking around with Brooke. As Malcolm grabs water for Peter to take on the search, Mia texts him linking to a news article and telling him to come over. The article mentions Declan being a common denominator in the last and latest disappearances, and that he’s moved to the nearby town. Katrin on the other hand has lost her venom, and as she leaves with Peter, Malcolm notices she looks afraid.

Malcolm heads to Mia’s house, Ellery is already there, and Mia is shouting at Daisy who looks murderous, especially as she’s holding a candlestick. Mia is confronting Daisy about Declan, and then Daisy “accidentally” throws the candlestick which hits Mia in the head. Mia tells Daisy that they all want to be on her and Declan’s side, but they need to understand. Daisy admits to having a nervous breakdown, she didn’t process Lacey’s death and felt guilty because she was in love with Declan all through high school and one day things changed between them and he said he loved her too. Declan and Lacey were still together at that time, though Declan suspected Lacey was seeing someone else, and then Lacey died. Mia tells Daisy she was a good friend, she didn’t act on her feelings with Declan. Daisy tells her some of her guilt was that she just shut down and didn’t help when Lacey disappeared, but then once Daisy was out of Echo Ridge, she remembered a distinctive bracelet Lacey started wearing that Declan didn’t buy her. A local artist made it and she asked Declan to come with her to visit the shop, but unfortunately it was a dead end. She even told the police about it and gave the bracelet to Ryan Rodriguez. Ellery asks if it’s possible that Ryan gave it to Lacey in the first place. Her mother had told her previously about Ryan getting overly emotional at Lacey's funeral…

On Friday, Ellery heads through the woods to the Fright Farm before it opens. Luckily only the makeup artist is there so early. Ellery channels Sadie and says she accidentally threw away $500 in cash and would like to check the locked recycling bin, but unfortunately, her coworker doesn’t have a key. Okay, Plan B: when the makeup artist leaves, pretend to be sick to stay behind and use paperclips to pick the lock. Success! Panicking, Ellery steals the whole contents of the bin and leaves the park.

Time to dig through the trash! Mia, Malcolm, Ezra and Ellery start looking and as they sort through the documents, Malcolm admits that the police said they want to look through his phone because they need to dig deeper into this supposed relationship he has with Brooke, but Peter defended him. There isn’t anything about Brooke on his phone of course, but there are texts from Declan.

The sorting of the recycled trash continues and Ezra finds a receipt for an auto shop in the town Declan used to live in. It’s an expensive rush job, paid in cash to repair impact on the front of a red 2016 BMW X6. That’s Katrin’s car. Brooke’s number is the one listed for the repairs under a fake name and, checking the dates on the receipt, they discover the accident and repair happened while Malcolm and his mom were on their vacation. Ellery realizes the date on the receipt matches when they arrived in Echo Ridge, which was when Mr. Bowman was killed in a hit and run.

Later, probably inspired by the hit and run date realization, Ellery makes a detailed timeline of the key events relating to the three missing girls. Ezra looks it over and points out that Sadie came back to Echo Ridge in August 2001 for their grandpa’s funeral and exactly nine months later, they were born. Oh wow. Which person in town could possibly be their father?

Saturday evening arrives and it’s time for homecoming. Katrin looks gorgeous but Malcolm notices she’s not all there, and he can’t look at her without wanting to ask her what she’s done. Malcolm and Ellery aren’t going to homecoming, and instead Ellery is coming over to watch movies and Malcolm’s mom obviously reads more into it. Malcolm and Ellery settle in with popcorn, and as they do, they decide not to mention what they found in the recycling bin yet as Ellery’s methods weren’t exactly legal, plus Ellery thinks there is something sketchy about Ryan Rodriguez. Malcolm confesses that he like-likes Ellery and they start making out, but of course they’re interrupted by Malcolm’s mom in the kitchen making hot chocolate. Using this as a distraction, Ellery shares her theory that Katrin started the vandalism to help people forget about what happened to Mr. Bowman, but it’s not perfect though - why was Ellery brought in? Who is helping Katrin? Did she do something to keep Brooke from talking? They decide they need to keep an eye on Katrin so they’d best go to homecoming.

Despite Nana’s protests and with strict curfew rules, Ellery and Malcolm head to the dance. Unfortunately, Kyle’s older sister, Liz, is manning the door and won’t let them in without a pre-purchased ticket. Daisy is also there as a chaperone and manages to get them in. Malcolm goes to look for Ezra and Mia so Daisy takes the opportunity to ask Ellery why she asked if Ryan bought Lacey the bracelet. Ellery explains that Sadie told her how broken up Ryan was at Lacey’s funeral so she thought they were close, but Daisy says that never happened. This isn’t the first time Sadie has been telling her own truth about Echo Ridge. Malcolm returns and he invites Ellery to dance, and then asks if she would go on a date to a clown museum with him. Ellery agrees. Suddenly Malcolm realizes he can’t see Katrin so they stop dancing and start looking for her. They find her slipping out of the gym and follow her outside under the Echo Ridge High sign. Ellery pulls out her cell and records Katrin as she reaches to unclasp her clutch… and vomits all over the grass.

Sunday is especially quiet post-homecoming. Ryan Rodriguez drives by and Ezra knocks Ellery for not giving him a chance especially as it turns out that Sadie hasn’t been telling the truth about him. Ellery agrees and decides it's a good opportunity to take the moving boxes to Ryan that their Nana has been asking them to do in the background this entire time. Ellery sees loads of family photos on the fireplace in the Rodriguez house and as she looks over them spots a picture of Ezra in military fatigues next to a helicopter. Wait, that's not right. That’s Ryan’s dad from Desert Storm. Well, shit. Everything makes sense, Ryan isn’t inept, he was trying to process the fact that they were related. Ryan isn’t sure if their dad knew about the twins, because if he did, surely he would have tried to reach out.

Malcolm wakes in the middle of the night from a nightmare-memory from Lacey’s funeral and finds a text from Ellery apologizing for not replying sooner but stuff has happened. At the same time, Malcolm hears someone walking downstairs and going outside. He can see a figure with a backpack and supposes it must be Katrin. Grabbing shoes and his phone, Malcolm follows her and texts Ellery what he’s doing. They reach the school and Malcolm records Katrin taping a white sheet with the words NOW PLAYING MURDERLAND PART TWO. TOLD YOU SO in red scrawled across. Malcolm texts Ellery the video and she says they need to give it to Officer Rodriguez along with the receipt they found first thing the next morning.

Ryan is going to treat the receipt as an anonymous tip since the way Ellery obtained it is sketchy as hell. They also can’t assume that Katrin committed the other vandalism or is responsible for Brooke’s disappearance. They should also keep this information quiet. Ellery tries to ask about Lacey but he tells her to give it a rest, yes he liked her, but she had a way of making anyone feel special. Suddenly Ryan gets a message and orders Ellery and Malcolm to go home.

Ellery is antsy and restless. She emails the photo of Ryan’s dad to Sadie’s email saying they need to talk then goes for a walk through the woods to Fright Farm. Officer McNulty is at the entrance and unceremoniously sends her home. Ellery’s brain starts to connect dots and thinks it’s no wonder Kyle McNulty can hold a grudge as his father is such a charming delight, but then her brain makes some more connections and Ellery realizes that Kyle could be responsible for Lacey’s death and Brooke’s disappearance. He could have teamed up with Declan. Ellery decides to call Ryan with her suspicions but before she can, Nana ambushes her, worried sick. She's especially worried now because they apparently found Brooke’s body in the woods at the Canadian border.

At the Nilsson’s, Katrin refuses to go to school and Malcolm is happy with that because he doesn’t want to be anywhere Katrin is. In the school parking lot, Kyle and his friend Theo are waiting for him with Viv watching on as they beat the snot out of Malcolm. Suddenly Declan steps forward and pulls Kyle’s fist back. Declan has been waiting for Malcolm, he knows what he’s going through. Declan orders Malcolm into the car and they drive to his apartment. Malcolm puts the TV on while Declan fetches an ice pack for his hand. The news is announcing a positive ID for Brooke.

Malcolm has headed over to the twins and they keep watching the news reports. Sadie calls as well and Ellery confronts her mom over the identity of their father, but Sadie’s answers only add fuel to their anger about her secrets and lies. Ryan Rodriguez stops by, he got Ellery’s message, and she shares her theories. All it does is annoy Ryan who tells her she’s more likely to hurt the investigation than help. He also suggests that Malcolm stay with friends for a while, just in case but it turns out, Malcolm doesn’t need to leave because Katrin has. Her aunt has taken her on a spa vacation.

Malcolm goes to his brother's apartment later and has dinner with Declan and Daisy. Officer Rodriguez knocks, he’s come to talk to Declan on official business and is somewhat shocked Daisy is there too. Officer Rodriguez needs to know Declan’s alibi the night Brooke disappeared. Declan won’t talk, but Daisy answers his questions. They were in the apartment together. Officer Rodriguez pulls out a class ring with DK engraved on it that was found with Brooke's body. Declan gave it to Lacey junior year. Where has it been? Declan refuses to say anything else. Once Ryan is gone he tells Daisy and Malcolm he hasn’t seen that ring in years and that he tried to break things off with Lacey and asked for his ring back but she refused. Malcolm doesn’t know what to think or who to believe. Declan can tell and kicks his little brother out.

Ellery goes to Malcolm’s house because he needs her True Crime Brain. They talk through the whole thing but nothing feels right. Peter interrupts them asking if they need anything and Ellery takes the opportunity to ask how Katrin is doing. Peter mentions that his sister has always been a devoted aunt, and that she took Katrin to New York for shopping right when Malcolm was on vacation with his mom and that the hailstorm delayed Katrin’s flight home. Ellery and Malcolm tense at the same time. Fuck. There is only one person who could have driven Katrin’s car at that time, Peter, but he wasn’t at home either. Malcolm calls Ben Coates who Peter was supposedly with and asks about the dinner they had with him last month. Ben says that never happened. Fuck. So it sounds like Peter was driving Katrin’s car, but why would Brooke help get the car fixed…. Oh. Ooooh no. Brooke was slipping out from the sleepovers to be with Peter not Malcolm as Katrin guessed! Ellery pulls her phone from her pocket to text Ryan when Peter comes bursting into the room, gun pointing at them.

Well, Ellery sucks at solving True Crime, not that it matters right now. Peter orders them to put their phones down. Malcolm desperately tries to reason with Peter, he knows they are dead otherwise, but it’s no use, Peter orders them downstairs into the basement. As they go Malcolm realizes that Peter planted Declan’s class ring on Brooke, that he killed Lacey too, that he was having an affair with both of them. Ellery asks about her aunt Sarah and Peter whispers something in her ear. Eventually they come to the only room in the house that locks on the outside and Peter locks them in. Malcolm can hear Peter moving something heavy before mentioning how dangerous it is to have an electric generator turned on in the house because of the carbon monoxide. Well, he’s got to pop to the grocery store for popcorn, bye!

Ellery finally breaks out of her stunned daze. She’s tearing through boxes looking for something to pick the door lock with as the carbon monoxide starts to take effect. As Malcolm’s vision goes dark he finds a blessed paperclip and tries to give it to Ellery who is now slumped and passed out by the door. Before Malcolm can even try to use the paperclip, he passes out too.

Ellery wakes up in the hospital, her head is thumping and her Nana is holding her hand. Nana is crying and telling her that she’s going to be okay. How? Ellery is about to rasp. Nana tells her her brother saved her and Ellery falls back to sleep. Melanie Kilduff is there when she wakes up again. Weakly, Ellery is able to ask about Malcolm who is safe down the hall. Melanie also tells her Sadie is on the way. As Ellery hugs Melanie, crying, she apologizes and asks about Mr. Nilsson and learns he’s in jail. The next time Ellery wakes, Ryan comes to visit. Ellery is able to thank him for saving her and Malcolm.

Ryan tracked Lacey’s bracelet Daisy gave him and the seller contacted him when they made a similar sale and the buyer's description matched Peter Nilsson. Ryan looked through Brooke’s jewelry and found it. Brooke also kept a diary on her computer. Though it didn’t give names, she did say how she was having an affair with an older man and was with him when something bad happened. The car repair receipt helped piece that together. Ellery managed to get a text through to Ryan, just a single letter, and he checked where she was with Nana who confirmed she was at the Nilsson house. Understandably, Ryan freaked out. When he got there, Peter was leaving, so Ryan searched the house, heard the generator and found Ellery and Malcolm passed out. Other police officers managed to catch Peter and arrest him before he got to the Canadian border and evidence found in his car tied him to Brooke’s murder. Ryan asks what Peter whispered to Ellery about Sarah but Ellery says she didn’t hear him. But why was Katrin involved? Ryan can’t say but can tell her Viv started the vandalism to help generate a high profile story to help her college applications. Viv also fixed the homecoming vote. As Ryan leaves, he invites Ellery and Ezra to a family gathering his sister is organizing. Sadie comes in then and hugs her daughter.

Two weeks later Malcolm, Declan, Daisy, Mia, and the twins are hanging out at Ryan’s sister's house. Mia peer pressures Malcolm into extending an olive branch to Declan, he did think his brother was a murderer after all. Malcolm apologizes to Declan, Declan apologizes to Malcolm, they clink beers and it's a start to healing their relationship. Katrin is cooperating with the police. When she found Brooke’s unique homemade phone case in her father’s office like some sort of trophy, she knew he was involved. Instead of telling anyone, she tried to deflect with the vandalism sign and now her lawyers are trying to paint her as a victim of Peter’s control. Malcolm received a text from Katrin saying “he’s all I have” which Malcolm knows isn’t true, she had him, his mom, her aunt, and at a push, her mother in the South of France. Declan thinks the whole family is rotten to the core.

Declan then pushes Malcolm toward Ellery. They’re both in bad places, which is understandable given murder attempt, the actual murders, and lies that have ruled their lives for the past month. It’s going to take some time to process but they can start moving on now. Malcolm asks if Ellery would like to visit the clown museum which is just down the street and promises her popcorn, hot dogs and of course, clowns.

As Ellery and Malcolm walk to the clown museum, she thinks about what Peter quietly said to her when she asked him about her aunt Sarah and wishes she had never heard it because it will haunt her for the rest of her life. He leaned in close and whispered, I THOUGHT SHE WAS YOUR MOTHER.

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