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The Collective by Alison Gaylin

Thriller

The Collective

by Alison Gaylin

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Quick Take

Hell hath no fury like a mother scorned in this propulsive story of rage, injustice, and the limits of revenge.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Fast_Read

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Action_packed

    Action-packed

  • Illustrated icon, Movieish

    Movieish

  • Illustrated icon, Murder

    Murder

Synopsis

Just how far will a grieving mother go to right a tragic wrong?

Camille Gardner is a grieving—and angry—mother who, five years after her daughter’s death, is still obsessed with the privileged young man she believes to be responsible.

When her rash actions attract the attention of a secret group of women—the collective—Camille is drawn into a dark web where these mothers share their wildly different stories of loss as well as their desire for justice in a world where privilege denies accountability and perpetrators emerge unscathed. Fueled by mutual rage, these women orchestrate their own brand of justice through precise, anonymous, complexly plotted and perfectly executed revenge killings, with individual members completing a specific and integral task in each plan.

As Camille struggles to comprehend whether this is a role-playing exercise or terrifying reality, she must decide if these women are truly avenging angels or monsters. Becoming more deeply enmeshed in the group, Camille learns truths about the collective—and about herself—that she may not be able to survive.

Content warning

This book contains mentions of assault and graphic violence.

Why I love it

I’m a sucker for a fast-paced thriller with a compelling “what would you do” premise: Would you take stolen money and run? Would you keep your partner’s murderous past a secret? Would you crash a plane or save your family, if forced to choose? I love them because these types of books immediately drop me right into the shoes of the protagonist. What would I do? In The Collective, Alison Gaylin asks a doozy: If someone killed your child, would you want them dead?

Camille Gardener is living a shell of her former life years after the death of her teenage daughter. Consumed by anger toward the privileged boy who evaded all consequences and resentful of the common platitudes she receives from those around her to help her “move on,” Camille at last finds solace in a dark underworld of mothers who have tragically lost children. There, the women not only indulge each other’s anger, but stoke it through collectively devised revenge fantasies. But before long, fantasy turns to action and Camille grapples with whether she’s part of an elaborate role-play or a member of a group plotting vigilante killings.

The Collective is an unflinching look at female rage and the power of women’s bonds. Add to that shocking secrets and harrowing choices and you’ve got a book that demands to be read in one sitting.

It’s not my first book by Gaylin and it certainly won’t be my last!

Thriller
No One Can Know
A Talent for Murder
Listen for the Lie
Kill for Me, Kill for You
Bad Tourists
Daughter of Mine
The Fury
Only If You’re Lucky
When I’m Dead
The Soulmate
The Other Mothers
What Lies in the Woods
She Started It
People Like Her
Dark Corners
Blacktop Wasteland
All the Dangerous Things
The Only Survivors
The Hunting Party
Things We Do in the Dark
The Golden Couple
The Collective
Gone Tonight
Too Good to Be True
The Last Word
You Are Not Alone
Rock Paper Scissors
Cross Her Heart
A Flicker in the Dark
Reckless Girls
The Wife Upstairs
The Last Thing He Told Me
The Maidens
Everything We Didn't Say
Invisible Girl
The Paris Apartment
The Guest List
What She Knew
The Dark Lake
The Wife Between Us
The Perfect Mother
None of This Is True
Sweet Little Lies
The Silent Patient
The Winter Sister
The Family Remains
Before She Knew Him
Daisy Darker
The Other Woman
Necessary People
The Family Upstairs
The Wives
Truth Be Told
The Night Swim
The Girl in the Mirror
Pretty Little Wife
Goodnight Beautiful
The Writing Retreat
Just Another Missing Person
First Born
Thriller
View all
No One Can Know
A Talent for Murder
Listen for the Lie
Kill for Me, Kill for You
Bad Tourists
Daughter of Mine
The Fury
Only If You’re Lucky
When I’m Dead
The Soulmate
The Other Mothers
What Lies in the Woods
She Started It
People Like Her
Dark Corners
Blacktop Wasteland
All the Dangerous Things
The Only Survivors
The Hunting Party
Things We Do in the Dark
The Golden Couple
The Collective
Gone Tonight
Too Good to Be True
The Last Word
You Are Not Alone
Rock Paper Scissors
Cross Her Heart
A Flicker in the Dark
Reckless Girls
The Wife Upstairs
The Last Thing He Told Me
The Maidens
Everything We Didn't Say
Invisible Girl
The Paris Apartment
The Guest List
What She Knew
The Dark Lake
The Wife Between Us
The Perfect Mother
None of This Is True
Sweet Little Lies
The Silent Patient
The Winter Sister
The Family Remains
Before She Knew Him
Daisy Darker
The Other Woman
Necessary People
The Family Upstairs
The Wives
Truth Be Told
The Night Swim
The Girl in the Mirror
Pretty Little Wife
Goodnight Beautiful
The Writing Retreat
Just Another Missing Person
First Born