Where Angels Fear to Tread


152 pages
ISBN 1-895387-49-3
DDC 364.1'523'09718




Christopher English is a professor of history at the Memorial University
of Newfoundland.


In 1993, Brian Smith, who had been in prison since 1985, sought to renew
an appeal against his conviction for the murder of his friend Jerome
Fleming in Bay Bulls, a fishing community south of St. John’s. The
fact that Smith had lung cancer enabled his lawyer to win him bail; he
died in 1994, before his appeal was heard.

The case against Smith was circumstantial. He was an unconvincing
witness in his own defence, the mistake of repeatedly talking to the
investigating officer while in custody. The judge permitted the jury to
hear his alleged admission of guilt—a “confession” that both Smith
and his wife accused the police of having extracted through wrongful
means. Another judge might well have ruled otherwise.

Fitzgerald’s account of this true-crime story is brisk but
occasionally repetitive. It is when the trial transcript is left to
speak for itself that the reader’s interest is most securely engaged.


Fitzgerald, Jack., “Where Angels Fear to Tread,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/5538.