Warning! All tropes on this page will be unmarked! Spoilers abound!
Julia disappeared over twenty years ago. According to her father's journal and other information, she seems to have been a bright young woman and enjoyed life. One night, she went out to The Manhatten, a bar and nightclub, with some of her friends from college and left before midnight. That was the last time anyone saw her.
- The Lost Lenore: To her family, who fell apart with her gone.
- Memento MacGuffin: The necklace she wore on the day she disappeared. It was actually Lydia's necklace, but she borrowed it. When her body is found, it's part of how they know it's her.
- Never Found the Body: Back when the police searched for her, nothing of hers was ever found.
- Finally Found the Body: Claire and Lydia find Julia's decomposing corpse in the covered-up well of Paul's old land.
- Plot-Triggering Disappearance: She disappeared before the novel starts, with her death having been a major factor in her family's life and being a reason why Claire and Lydia are so intent on figuring out the truth behind the torture videos.
- Post Humous Character: Everything known about her is only heard from other sources.
- The Runaway: The police quickly came to the conclussion that Julia simply ran away from home because she had been fighting with her parents and admired free-roamers.
- Stuffed In A Well: Her mutilated corpse was dropped down the well and has been there since.
Claire was only thirteen years old when Julia disappeared. When she met Paul Scott in a college lab, the two hit it off pretty well and quickly began to date each other. Shortly after her father committed suicide, the two got married and have been together since.
Claire studied art in college, but doesn't really make use of it outside of a hobby. She spent her days working on several humane interest charities and used to play tennis, but stopped some time ago. She found pornographic torture videos on Paul's computer and became obsessed with wanting to know what they mean and if they might answer what happened to Julia.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Claire comes across as very quiet and shy, but she smashed and dislocated a woman's kneecap for bad-mouthing a rape victim. She also ends up killing her husband.
- Break the Cutie: The novel repeatedly breaks her world-view, her marriage and everything she considered to be true, the more she finds out about Paul's little sidebusiness.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: She has anger management issues, which has caused her to get in trouble with the law. She knows it should be worked on, but hasn't done anything about it. And besides, she admits that it was pretty helpful in getting her to find out where Julia is.
- Disproportionate Retribution: She destroyed a woman's kneecap and dislocated her knee for blaming a girl for drinking at a frat party and getting raped.
- Happily Married: To Paul Scott for almost twenty years. Though she starts to doubt how real it was when she finds the torture videos and learns more about Paul's real personality.
- Stepford Smiler: Turned into one after Julia's disappearance. With her family falling apart and often fighting amongst themselves, Claire decided to do her best to become invisible to them and not get stuck in the cross-fire.
- Took a Level in Badass: Went from a quiet, demure and almost helpless housewife-turned-widow into a woman that was ready to finally take charge of herself, face her past's shadows and get rid of Paul, who had manipulated her for most of her life.
- Your Cheating Heart: She has had affairs during her marriage, though it was only for sex.
Lydia tried to keep the family together, but eventually took to taking drugs and drinking excessively to cope with Julia's disappearance. When her family didn't believe her about Paul's attempted rape, she left them and never looked back.
She got married to another drug-addict and, after he died from an overdose, also learned that she was pregnant. Lydia chose to stop taking drugs and has been clean for seventeen years. When her sister contacts her and seems to need her, she goes to Claire's side and joins her on the quest to find out the truth about the videos.
- Alone with the Psycho: Paul kidnaps and holds her hostage for the last third of the novel.
- Attempted Rape: Paul tried some advances on her and then got violent when she rejected him. Two men were passing nearby and Lydia screamed for their help, causing Paul to run off.
- Cassandra Truth: Nobody believed her when she said that Paul had tried to rape her, with part of the reason being that she had lied to or stolen from her family so many times because of her drug problem by then. Claire does eventually believe her.
- Dead Guy Junior: She named her daughter Julia, though she mostly goes by 'Dee'.
- Excrement Statement: Upon learning that Paul is dead and buried, she went to his grave and planned on taking a dump on it. Claire stops her from doing that, though.
- Fate Worse than Death: Her torture at Paul's hands. He used his urine to waterboard her, punched her whenever she seemed to lose conscious and burned her with a cattle prod. She began to lose hope and was just wishing for him to kill her soon. Fortunately, Claire manages to save her and is making a full recovery at the end of the novel.
- Mama Bear: She is fiercely protective of her daughter, Dee. And when Paul reveals that he was planning to wait a bit more and then kidnap Dee and do the same thing to her as to Julia, Lydia actually tried to fight back, when she previously had become catatonic to his words.
- Promotion to Parent: Once Helen became too drunk to be a competent parent, Lydia was the one to step up and make sure that Claire ate well, went to school and did her homework. She stopped doing this, once the drugs took up too much of her life.
- Recovered Addict: Decided to become clean when she learned that she was pregnant.
- Tap on the Head: Lydia gets hit over the head once and is dazed, but requires another one before she falls unconscious.
Paul quickly fell in love with Claire and the two got married. Their marriage has gone well and Paul's familial inheritance allowed him to form the base of opening up his own architecture firm with his good friend, Adam Quinn.
With nothing in their life really missing, the two were ready to leave Claire's little skirmish with the law behind them and continue in their little happiness. But when they head into a little alley for some privacy, the two are being robbed at knifepoint and Paul gets fatally stabbed in the stomach.
- Asshole Victim: Claire wonders if this might be the case with Paul, once she learns of his shadier personality, but retains hope that he is merely a passive member of the torture porn circle. Played straight, when she learns just what a monster he is.
- Beauty Mark: Three little moles on his shoulderblade, which Claire uses as an identifying mark. She initially sees none on the masked man, relieved that he is not her husband... then she finds unedited footage and sees that the marks were there.
- Beneath the Mask: Portrays himself as a wonderfully devoted and charming young man with great manners, as well as a loving husband. In reality, he's a sadistic psychopath.
- Big Bad: Of the novel, with him being the most active member for the creation of the videos.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Paul's kneecap gets shot by Claire and a second shot injures his neck badly. While he tries to staunch the bleeding, Claire takes his hands away and watches as he slowly bleeds out.
- Faking the Dead: His death in the first few chapters? All faked, as part of a deal with the FBI.
- The Informant: When the FBI confronted Paul about the videos, he claimed to be merely the one who records the videos and is willing to give them information on the masked man. They take him on as their informant in this case, in exchange for helping him fake his death.
- In the Blood: His father was the previous masked man and Paul learned his monstrous way from him at a young age.
- Manipulative Bastard: He is a master at manipulating people. He has done it to Claire for practically their whole time together, using Julia's disappearance to carefully pick every person that may be an emotional support to Claire away from her and doing whatever must be done for that: attempting to rape her sister, killing her emotionally unstable father...
- The Sociopath: Paul's entire, outward appearance is based on what he logically deduces as being required. He can present himself as emotional when needed, but ultimately has no empathy for anything or anyone. Unless it is himself and the fulfillment of his sick desires.
- Stealing from the Till: He has been embezzling money from his own firm. Only a total of three million dollars, a considerably small amount, given how he is already worth almost ten times as much. Claire realizes that he stole one million dollars for every time that she slept with Adam Quinn.
- Weaksauce Weakness: He is terrified of fire, because his mother died in the burning car. However, he is very specific how it frightens him: only if it's an actual threat to him that he cannot escape from.
Julia's parents, whose marriage began to suffer when she disappeared.
Sam was a devoted veterinarian and loved his family above all else, which is why Julia's disappearance hit him so hard. He became obsessed with figuring out what she did on that fateful day, repeatedly harassed the police and even civilians about her. When his marriage failed and he lived on his own, he tried to retain in good contact with his family, but things didn't work out so well. Around the sixth anniversary of Julia's disappearance, Sam Carroll was found by his wife, having injected himself with medication used to put animals down.
- The Alcoholic: Helen began to drink heavily after Julia disappeared.
- Amicable Exes: They remained on good terms, and as sexual partners, after they got divorced.
- Driven to Suicide: Sam eventually killed himself.
- Never Suicide: Subverted, as his death was ruled as a suicide for years. But it turns out that Paul had killed Sam with the medicine, as part of his long-term plan.
- Forced to Watch: Sam was tied to a chair and forced to watch the videos depicting Julia's torture and eventual death, before Paul injected the fatal medication.
- Generic Girl: Helen doesn't have as much revealed about her, in comparison to Sam.
- Happily Married: They were a devoted couple, but Julia's disappearance put too much of a strain on them.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Sam didn't resent his wife for divorcing him or eventually remarrying. They still loved each other and he knew that Helen's new husband could make her happy, as well as be a good father to his daughters.
- Kindly Vet: Sam was a vet for years, before his mental anguish over Julia meant he couldn't work anymore.
- Parents as People: Both may come across as less-than-stellar parents, but Sam's isolation of his family and obsession with Julia's case was his way of coping. In turn, Helen tried to pull herself together faster and continue living, which may make her come across as cold, though she was only trying to focus on her remaining children's health.
- Recovered Addict: Helen, considering she isn't mentioned to drink as much as before.
- Wall Full Of Crazy: One wall of Sam's apartment was devoted to a whirl of pages and papers criss-crossed and intertwined, pointing out any kind of clue or hint that might lead to anything about the truth behind Julia's disappearance.