Ride the Rails in the Canadian Rockies with the Dick Francis Mystery 'The Edge'

Ride the Rails in the Canadian Rockies with the Dick Francis Mystery 'The Edge'

Thursday, 28 October, 2021

The right book can instantly transport you to anywhere — and anytime — in the world. Every Thursday, we recommend one of our favorite books with a strong sense of place so you can see the sights, meet remarkable people, go on exciting adventures, and feel big feelings. Bonus: You don't even have to put on pants.

This post is part of our 'Weekend Getaway' series.


A sort of Canadian version of Murder on the Orient Express, this bracing adventure begins in England, then picks up across the Atlantic for a train ride from Montreal to Vancouver. While passing through the stunning scenery of the Canadian Rockies, our hero Tor Kelsey cracks a case (and some skulls) aboard The Great Transcontinental Mystery Race Train.

British author and retired jockey Dick Francis wrote 42 thrillers, mostly set in the exhilarating — and, apparently, perilous — world of horse racing. Tor is the archetype of a Francis hero: handsome, but not intimidatingly so, resourceful and relentless, plagued by integrity, decent, accidentally charming, and gentlemanly to women and men alike.

He goes undercover for the Jockey Club’s security service to exterminate a villain called Julius Apollo Filmer, a nasty piece of work who’s suspected of murder, intimidating witnesses, blackmail, and other crimes that offend one’s sensibilities.

Desperate to gather enough evidence to finally convict Filmer, Tor joins a group of wealthy racehorse owners on a luxurious train journey through the Canadian Rockies. The passengers are promised gorgeous scenery, endlessly flowing champagne, special races, and a murder-mystery game that will take place during the trip, mingling actors with the real passengers. Posing as a waiter, Tor ingratiates himself with the staff and has several near-misses with Filmer.

As the train barrels through the Canadian wilderness — through the mountains, Banff, and the stunning Chateau Lake Louise — there are backroom deals, dangerous thrills, train sabotage, a snowstorm, betrayal, and a little bit of romance.

Francis was no stranger to physical battering and broken bones. During WWII, he was a fighter pilot in Africa, and later, a winning steeplechase jockey and rode for Queen Elizabeth. He, likewise, puts his protagonist Tor through the wringer. But our hero soldiers on with aplomb, taking his licks and delivering a few, too.

The train hooted in the distance: one of the most haunting of seductive sounds to a wanderer. That, and the hollow breathy boom of departing ships. If I had any addiction, it was to the setting off, not the arrival. — Dick Francis

The Edge

by Dick Francis

This murder mystery (368 pages) was published in August of 2000 by G.P. Putnam's Sons. The book takes you to England and the Canadian Rockies. Melissa read The Edge and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

The Edge


Top image courtesy of achinthamb/Shutterstock.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

The action begins so innocently with a sunny holiday in Eastern Europe: fresh air, green mountains, friendly banter. But when our heroine Iris boards the train to London, her journey home goes spectacularly awry.
Let's go jet-setting around the world this weekend (from the safety of our couches, obvs). Yes, it's potentially dangerous, but when you're hanging out with the world's best assassin, excitement is to be expected.
Who could resist women on wheels, racing around the track and tackling each other with glee? Certainly not (anti)hero Hammerhead Jed, pro-wrestler-turned-P.I., who delves into Vancouver's dark side to solve a case.

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.

This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.
follow us

Content on this site is ©2024 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.