Crimes That Shocked Newfoundland.


264 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 978-1-897174-30-2
DDC 364.109718




Reviewed by Melvin Baker

Melvin Baker is an archivist and historian at Memorial University of
Newfoundland, and the co-editor of Dictionary of Newfoundland and
Labrador Biography.


Crimes is a compilation of the author’s previous writings found in a number of popular histories published in the 1980s and now supplemented by some previously unpublished articles. Its main focus is on Newfoundland murder trials from the 20th century, but it does include several sensational murders from the pre-1900 period. The author relies heavily upon newspaper accounts, court records and trial transcripts, and autopsy reports to recreate the circumstances surrounding murders that at the time held the public spellbound. The largest chapter of the book is a revision of his 1982 account of the arrest and trial of Alfred Valdmanis, the Latvian-born economist who from 1950 to 1953 served as chief economic adviser to Newfoundland Premier Joseph Smallwood. This revision incorporates some of the scholarly research of Gerhard Bassler’s definitive 2000 biography of Valdmanis. The articles are well written, and the collection serves the publisher’s intent of preserving the “finest and most significant” of this genre of the author’s work.


Fitzgerald, Jack., “Crimes That Shocked Newfoundland.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,