Red River Girl by Joanna Jolly

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This was a very comprehensive look into the life and death of Tina Fontaine as well as the life of the detective that was consumed with tracking down the Tina’s killer.

Red River Girl wouldn’t be complete at all if it didn’t include the rage-inducing stats and Jolly does shine a light on Indigenous issues in Canada and in particular the significant racism and the murdered and missing Indigenous women, in addition to the extremely comprehensive look into the life and death of Tina Fontaine. It is a very close look at Winnipeg and in particular the North End of Winnipeg. A bleak picture is painted overall.

I did really like the structure of this one, not only was it a close look at Tina’s life, but I liked that Jolly also delved deeply into the life of homicide detective John O’Donovan starting from his birth place in Ireland to his coming to Winnipeg and his eventual job with the Winnipeg Police Service. O’Donovan was a man on a mission and Tina Fontaine’s murder consumed him. It became an obsession. Jolly gives a painstakingly detailed account of everything O’Donovan did in order to capture her killer. Nothing left unturned or considered and Jolly left nothing out of every detail they examined.

This is a child, so, I mean, society should be horrified, he continued. He sensed he was acting emotionally, but wanted to make his point again. Tina, he told his audience, had been tiny. He wanted to stress her vulnerability. (John O’Donovan)

The efforts and the details provided to show every step Tina took in the months and days leading up to her murder were incredibly detailed. It was a necessary telling of the life of a very young teenage girl whose life was cut short in such a brutal way, but it also gave a very clear picture of the hours and days and months it takes to piece together the evidence required to help solve a case like this.

Sadly, despite the incredible efforts to gather the evidence against the man they were convinced beyond all doubt was responsible for Tina’s murder was acquitted. Devastating.

Thank you to Viking Canada / Penguin Random House Canada for providing me a copy of Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine. It is important reading. This is not an issue to dismiss or ignore.