the ruin of the watcher by Collings MacCrae is the first installment of the Fox Argall Mystery series. I’m obligated to start there because you need the link to this amazing serial which is currently only available on Amazon and Kindle Vella.
But where do I start? This Vella made the top favorites for the month of August and so far it is still holding on for September which is an amazing feat as additional episodes of Fox’s tale aren’t posted on this vella itself. I’m fighting tooth and nail to see my own work on that list so I can appreciate the hard work and engagement that goes into keeping your work not only relevant and current, but on a best sellers list. It is especially difficult to make an overall list writing in a genre that isn’t romance or romance adjacent, one where there is a smaller reader pool.
How well MacCrae is doing over all is something that I had to touch on now that numbers for last month are it.
It is a well deserved placement for a mystery that is more than worth the tokens you may need to spend to access it. Read this last statement as as the following: If I was not reviewing this Vella I would still read, subscribe, like the episodes and spend my top fav token on it.
One of the most impressive bits and of ruin is the fact our character lead is a nuerodiverse man well on the autism spectrum. This is one of those topics that can cause knee jerk gut reactions by those who don’t experience such differences in themselves or their immediate family.
There are so many shows, books, movies, comics, etc. where you have that one token character who’s nuerodiversity is almost always seen as a handicap. The truth is that amazing examples of nuerodiversity in the media that are well done, well balanced are few and far in between because they’re simply lack luster and unremarkable outside of being that token presence. Examples include Freddie Highmore’s portrayal of Shaun in The Good Doctor, Ato Essendoh’s portral of Isadore Latham on Chicago Med and even Julia on Sesame Street. I know that there are more, but these are ones that stand out because they came to me without the need of Google or determining if the portrayal is genuine. You don’t question the value of these characters in their individual stories and know for certain that they have an impact on the lives of the characters around them and viewers alike.
Knowing these things, and knowing my own nuerodiversity and where I fall just outside fo the spectrum, automatically means I was drawn to this story and sucked in. It wasn’t just because Fox is diverse. It’s because Fox is diverse, successful and his behaviors and actions are genuine and real to anyone who is or knows or loves someone who faces the challenges of nuerodiversity. This isn’t just what sets MacCrae’s work a part from other crime thrillers and mysteries. It sets them above the rest.
Outside of a nuerodiverse character what is it that sets ruin above the rest? Is it the free discussion of menopause in a realistic way that makes me as a woman go ‘My body did that!’ and I want to read more about Grace? Realistic family and professional interactions? An amazing first case in which we get to meet Fox while dealing with crime directed at tender aged children in a way that isn’t just compelling, it’s tasteful and well done? Is it that we are given a nuerodiverse character who is still an incredible hero for those of us who struggle with our own differences from the ‘mundance’ world?
The fact is that Collings delivered all of this and more in a well paced who done it with the perfect bread crumbs, right amount of spice and realism that keeps readers coming back for more.
If you love mysteries that you can binge your way through in one sitting, then the ruin of the watcher isn’t just for me, it’s for you!
If you have or know someone who has fought against the norms as a nuerodiverse individual who needs a character to look up to like so many young people do so with characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Superman, then not only is ruin for you, ruin and the Fox Argall Mysteries are that and more.
Like Briardark, Chew, and Courting Fae Thieves and Crowns, I’m checking first thing every day for new episodes and may or may not have finally turned on the banner notifications for Kindle on my iPhone. I look forward to seeing how MacCrae’s work will impact the lives of others as we see technology updates for Kindle apps outside of iOS in addition to a more widespread release of the platform.
Why? Because I know that there are other readers out there that need characters like Fox in their lives.
If you don’t want to take my word for it, take a look at what other readers have had to say about the ruin of the watcher:
And now! For my favorite part! While I love telling all of you about the stories that I’m reading, one of the best parts is the author interview where I have a chance to ask our amazing writers about them and their craft. The more I read and the more reviews I write, the more questions I have!
I am thankful that Collings took the time to tell us more about their life and their writing.
Kitty: Who is your favorite mystery/thriller author?
Collings: Agatha Christie. I read everything CJ Sansom and Charles Todd write. I also love Stephen King and Kristin Painter. CS Lewis, CS Harris. Oh! Sarah Woodbury! I better stop.
Kitty: Which crime thriller is your current favorite?
Collings: I’m reading A Fatal Lie by Charles Todd. I just finished the Gareth and Gwen series by Woodbury.
Kitty: What drew you to writing murder mysteries?
Collings: The first in the Fox Argall series — The Ruin of the Watcher — was one of those lightning strike “head-videos” of a new story. It just played in my head. That was over ten years ago. I wrote the first draft in 4 days and fell in love with the characters. Now, those characters just keep telling me their stories and I’m compelled to write them down.
Kitty: Will Fox return in future installments?
Collings: Oh, yes! Two more are in process: The Sweater Case, currently being published to Vella with 5 episodes live and The Case of the Reluctant Whistleblower, in draft.
Kitty: If there was one thing you could go back in time and tell yourself about being a writer, what would it be?
Collings: You can do this. Step in and get going, only practice will push you forward.
Kitty: If you could give new or aspiring writers a piece of advice, what would it be?
Collings: Practice your craft. Learn to write better; your book is your product. Make it as great as you can.
Kitty: If you could tell your readers one thing about your books, what would it be?
Collings: I want to combine my lifelong love of mystery with a story about a family. It’s not strictly “to market” to spend so much time in a gritty detective mystery talking about relationships, so there’s that. Fox’s neurodiversity is a big part of his stories, and his relationships all revolve around it. I want to show neurodiverse characters organically, not making a just a banner about it, but showing real life. Good and bad, everyday real life.
Kitty: If you could tell your readers one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Collings: I’m a neurodiverse Nana with a fabulous, three-gen neurodiverse family.
Now that I’ve cried my way through writing a review, what’s next? It’s Dinos of the Old West. Because I saw the logo and read the first episode and I just can’t help myself.
Until next time, may your adventures be exciting! Just… not as exciting as X’s.