In 1961, Alexandra Wiwcharuk was found murdered on the banks of the Saskatchewan River. As Sharon Butala writes, all of Saskatoon “came to a stop,” stunned by the brutal death of an attractive young woman who was a graduate nurse and had been crowned a beauty queen in local pageants. The murder became a touchstone moment for Saskatoon. More than 40 years later, it still haunts the residents, especially those who, like Butala, were Alexandra’s friends.
Compelled by her memories of Alex and her time, Butala returns to that still-unsolved murder. In The Girl in Saskatoon—a title taken from a song that Johnny Cash sang to Alex at a concert only months before her death—she faces the horror of those past events to create a portrait of friendship and remembrance, of a time when life appeared so much simpler. Written in Butala’s intimate, eloquent style, The Girl in Saskatoon is at once an in-depth investigation of a tragic death, a nostalgic coming-of-age story and an exploration of the nature of good and evil.