#BookReview: The Collective by Alison Gaylin @orionbooks #TheCollective #damppebbles #20booksofsummer22

How far would a mother go to right a wrong?

Camille Gardener is a grieving and angry mother who, fives years after her daughter’s death, is obsessed with the man she believes to be responsible.

Because Camille wants revenge.
Enter: the Collective.

A group of women who desire justice above all else.

A group of women who enact revenge on the men who have wronged them.

But as Camille gets more involved in the group she must decide whether these women are the heroes or the villains.

And if she chooses wrong, will she ever get out alive?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Collective by Alison Gaylin. The Collective is published by Orion Books in paperback format today (that’s Thursday 11th August 2022) and is also available in audio and digital formats.

I am a huge fan of Alison Gaylin’s books (also written under A.L. Gaylin), The Collective being the fourth of her standalone thrillers which I’ve read. And in all honesty, if I wasn’t already a fan, there would be no way on this earth that I would be able to resist the pull of this book! That striking red cover with the silhouettes, that utterly intriguing tagline on the US version (it’s ‘no killer goes unpunished’ if you haven’t already seen it) and that ‘grab you by the throat’ blurb. Getting hold of a copy of this book became a priority!

Camille Gardener is a woman consumed by grief following the death of her 15-year-old daughter, Emily, five years earlier. She blames high achieving college student Harris Blanchard for Emily’s death but Harris is the college’s golden boy and has never been held to account. When Camille is approached by a stranger and given information about a Facebook group called Niobe for grieving mothers, she signs up. But the group is different to others she’s joined in the past. Their anger matches her own, the women openly discuss the most horrific deaths they can imagine for those they feel are responsible for their child’s death. But Niobe is only the start. Before long Camille is introduced to the Collective and things start to spiral out of control. Camille has been accepted into the Collective, but there’s a good chance she won’t make it out alive…

The Collective is so GOOD! Gaylin has once again produced an absolute page turner of a novel which I found near impossible to put down. Camille is a fascinating character and I watched, open mouthed, as she dug herself deeper and deeper into what felt like an inescapable hole. My heart was in my mouth and I was on the edge of my seat wondering how far things were going to go for the character. The more I read, the more I liked her. The more I read, the more I needed to know about the Collective. Gaylin has written such a brilliantly addictive thriller and I flew through the pages, desperate to find out where the author was going to take this misguided, grief-stricken woman. And oh my gosh, what a perfect ending.

The book is set around the Hudson Valley and I really enjoyed Gaylin’s vivid descriptions of the area. The setting felt like a complete contrast to the dark events unfolding before me on the page. Proof that terrible things can happen to nice, normal people. And terrible is a pretty massive understatement when it comes to some of the grisly ways the members of the group fantasise about killing off those responsible for their children’s deaths. Oh my goodness, you wouldn’t want to cross any of those moms!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Collective is an utterly captivating, highly addictive read which hooked me in from the opening pages and didn’t let go until the shocking end. Such a thrilling plot, skilfully executed, featuring terrific characters and jaw-dropping twists. The Collective demonstrates how raw, how powerful, how completely destructive one woman’s grief can be when fed. It’s certainly a dark read but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride! Full of suspense, secrets and overflowing with revenge. Gaylin has done it again and I remain a huge fan. Highly recommended.

The Collective by Alison Gaylin was published in the UK by Orion Books on 4th August 2022 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Alison Gaylin is the Edgar and Shamus award-winning author of 12 books and many short stories. A USA Today and international bestseller, she lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

#BookReview: The Heights by Louise Candlish @simonschusterUK #TheHeights #damppebbles


He thinks he’s safe up there. But he’ll never be safe from you.

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Tower Bridge, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him.

Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.

Because you’re the one who killed him. It’s time to confess what we did up there.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Heights by Louise Candlish. The Heights is published by Simon & Schuster today (that’s Thursday 5th August 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Heights but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’m ashamed to admit that The Heights is only the second book by this author I have read (most of her other crime/psychological thrillers ARE on my terrifying TBR waiting patiently for me). But one thing I know for sure, after having only read two of Candlish’s books, is that you are in for one helluva treat when you pick up one of her novels. Expertly crafted, totally absorbing and utterly readable. The Heights was no exception.

Lighting consultant and high place phenomenon (HPP) sufferer, Ellen Saint, is doing her best to avoid looking out of the window, reminding herself to concentrate on her latest client’s lighting needs, when something catches her eye. Looking out of the window, Ellen glances across to the penthouse suite of The Heights, an exclusive apartment building with a private roof terrace, and sees someone she never expected to see. Kieran Watts. The man who caused Ellen such extreme heartache and grief is standing on top of the building opposite. But that can’t be true because Kieran Watts is dead. Ellen killed him…

The Heights is hugely compulsive and draws the reader in from the get-go. Ellen’s grief and her thirst for revenge is a living and breathing entity and once you’re in, you’ll definitely want to stick around to see where the author takes you. Ellen is a fascinating character who is expertly written. I may not have liked her but I certainly sympathised with her. How can you ever get over the loss of a child?

Shortly after Ellen’s teenaged son, Lucas, is introduced to school newcomer, Kieran, things start to go wrong for her happy little brood. Lucas, who was on track for a place at Oxbridge, suddenly starts to behave differently. He stays out all night drinking, smoking and taking drugs. Ellen believes Kieran is the catalyst for this change, particularly as he so obviously despises Ellen and takes great pleasure in making her feel uncomfortable at every opportunity. That and because he’s been in care for a while now. His recent move to a new foster carer puts him firmly in their orbit. But then tragedy strikes and there’s only one person to blame. Kieran Watts. Ellen’s hatred of the boy is palpable. There’s only one course of action she can take. Kieran Watts must pay for what he did…

Another corker of a read from this author – the queen of the killer twist! I found The Heights to be a very absorbing, very emotional tale. What would you do in Ellen’s position? How far can grief push a person? If The Heights is anything to go by, I think the answer to the second question is ‘to the extremes’.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. The Heights will leave you dizzy but in the best way possible. The setting really added to the story (coupled with Ellen’s uncontrollable need to throw herself off of tall buildings!). The characters were all well-written and I enjoyed spending time with them (even the unpleasant ones!). And the pace was perfectly managed from beginning to end. The ending was hugely satisfying and I would pick up another book by this author faster than you can say ‘HPP’. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Heights. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Heights by Louise Candlish was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 5th August 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Sunday Times bestselling author Louise Candlish was born in Northumberland and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and has lived in the capital ever since. She is the author of 14 novels, including the thriller Our House, winner of the British Book Awards 2019 Crime & Thriller Book of the Year and shortlisted for several other awards. A #1 bestseller in paperback, ebook and audiobook, it is soon to be a four-part ITV drama, produced by Red Planet Pictures. Her new release The Other Passenger, a Hitchcockian tale of adultery and double crossing set among the Thames river commuters, is also in development for the screen. Louise’s first Richard & Judy Book Club pick, it has been longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2021.

Louise lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband, teenage daughter and fox-red Labrador, Bertie. Besides books, the things she likes best are: coffee; TV; salted caramel; tennis; lasagne; old heavy metal; ‘The Archers’ (but not the lockdown monologues); white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar). Her favourite book is Madame Bovary.

Author photo by Jonny Ring