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Holiday Gift Guide: Shadow of Doubt

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Even after taking home the gold for the New Brunswick Book Awards’ Non-Fiction category, Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon still had much more of the story to tell.

In this new revised and expanded edition, MacKinnon takes readers inside every stage of one of Canada’s most gripping murder trials. She addresses the issues with the original police investigation, Oland’s appeal and his subsequent appearance at the Supreme Court of Canada, new evidence and witnesses brought forward at the retrial, and the sensational final verdict.

MacKinnon leaves no room for confusion as she explains everything from childhood trauma to familial rivalry in this comprehensive edition. No one perspective is favoured nor overlooked in this catch-all account of the Maritime murder which reached national news. 


At around a quarter to nine on the morning of Thursday, July 7, 2011, Maureen Adamson’s husband dropped her off at work. She carried a tray of Tim Hortons coffee she had picked up en route. Her boss, Richard Oland, loved his coffee, and as his personal secretary for twenty-five years, she tried her best to anticipate his every need. It would be another busy day. The prominent New Brunswick businessman had been travelling most of the previous two months, and they had a lot of catching up to do. Adamson, a sturdy and serious woman in her late middle age, usually arrived first at Oland’s investment firm office, located in a commercial building at 52 Canterbury, a narrow one-way street in the heart of historic uptown Saint John. She dug for her key and inserted it in the street-level door of the three-storey brick building, but it was already unlocked. Odd, she thought. The last person to leave at night was supposed to lock the door.

Adamson climbed the narrow, windowless stairwell to the second floor, only to find that door, also normally locked, not completely closed. Now she was irritated. Grumbling, Adamson pushed the door open and turned left into the foyer, which led to Oland’s Far End Corporation, marked by a modest brass plaque. As she opened the french door, a “terrifically vile odour” struck her. She couldn’t imagine what it could be; she had never encountered anything like it before. She stepped inside the multimillionaire ’s surprisingly modest, “pack-ratty” office full of one stacked bankers boxes and electronic equipment, but nothing immediately seemed amiss; nothing, that is, but the air conditioner on full blast. It was normally turned off overnight. Adamson made her way to a long table in the centre of the room and set down the tray of hot coffee. That’s when, as she later recounted, she spotted “two legs” on the floor under Richard Oland’s desk. “You couldn’t miss it, really,” she later said in court, her voice momentarily breaking with emotion.

In shock, Adamson didn’t realize who was sprawled on the floor in a large pool of blood, and she didn’t stay long enough to find out. She raced downstairs and burst into the print shop on the ground floor, calling out for help.

“Something’s wrong,” Adamson blurted out. “I see feet upstairs. 

Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon covered the Oland case from this grisly beginning all the way to the judge’s final verdict. In this definitive account of a series of trials for a horrific crime, she lays bare the tribulations of a prominent family and the inner workings of the justice system that led to Dennis Oland’s contentious conviction, retrial, and acquittal.



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