On St. Patrick’s Day, 1942, a quiet St. John’s neighbourhood awoke to terrified screams as the bloodied body of nineteen-year-old Josephine O’Brien was discovered in a downtown boarding house. Beaten to death with a flat iron, police soon arrested her fiancé Herbert Spratt. British governor Sir Humphrey Walwyn sentenced Spratt to death.
Six years later, Alfred Beaton was tried for shooting Dorothea Manuel to death during a night of terror in the community of Norris Arm. While the new British governor, Sir Gordon Macdonald, was deciding between prison and the gallows for Beaton, a mysterious letter-writer emerges from the political wilderness of 1940s Newfoundland and attempts to turn the tide of public opinion against the death penalty.
In Dancing On Air, Eric Colbourne offers the true, gripping account of a flawed justice system, the agony of victims of violence, and a political awakening in Newfoundland and Labrador.