Murder on the Orford Mountain Railway by Nick Fonda

I would like to begin this review by stating that the title is somewhat misleading. No murder has taken place on the Orford Mountain Railway, but near the railway’s construction camp. Now that that is out of the way, Nick Fonda’s book is a work of creative fiction surrounding the mysterious death of young Ralph Andosca, the son of the camp’s cook, who was ambushed while on horseback and shot dead at point-blank range in 1905.

Mr. Fonda has chosen to relate the story of the murder to the reader in a curious way. The scene is present-day, and a gentleman is giving a presentation regarding the historic railway murder and the recent discovery of a diary written by an unknown woman to an audience in a church hall near where the murder took place, in Quebec’s eastern townships. An effective way to unpack the story, and it serves to build suspense, but it also includes the presenter’s unfamiliarity with operating a presentation device to which a techy named Shaun comes to his rescue. Those little asides the story could do without, I felt. There are also times when you get the feeling that the story was being stretched to fill pages, such as the flight of Senor Andosca from Italy. As well-written as it was, it wasn’t germane to the actual murder here on this side of the Atlantic.

Apart from that, it is evident that Mr.Fonda is very familiar with life in the eastern towships at the turn of the last century. He even gets a mention in of the Fossmobile, Canada’s first gasoline-powered vehicle, of which only one was made in Sherbrooke, QC. There is also a second (but unrelated) murder of a young boy that took place weeks earlier that the author delves into: a 14-year old had been killed in nearby Farnham very near an existing rail line.

There are likely thousands of historical crimes in Canada that can be written about, and for fans of the genre, Murder on the Orford Mountain Railway is certainly worth a look.

*Note: this review is based on an advance reading copy that was supplied by the publisher. Murder on the Orford Mountain Railway will be released June 1, 2021

Nick Fonda is an award-winning journalist who has been documenting life in the Quebec’s Eastern Townships for years. Fascinated by local history, which inspires this novel, he is the author of three books of nonfiction focusing on the Townships and the acclaimed short stories collection Principals and Other Schoolyard Bullies. He lives in Richmond, Quebec.

  • Publisher : Baraka Books (May 1 2021)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 200 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1771862467
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1771862462

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