Hooked on True Crime: Podcasts
“What is all this missing person shit? I don’t want missing, I want bodies!”
This is part one of a series. Hooked on true crime books and hooked on true crime documentaries posts are bubbling in the background like fetid flesh in a Florida field.
I work in a kitchen. I work in a kitchen on my own. It’s not an interesting fact but it is relevant to this list. When you’re doing seven, eight hours chopping stuff up with no one to talk to because everything you work with is already dead, you need something to pass the time.
Yes there’s TalkSport, yes there’s Taxi Cab Racist Radio or whatever it’s called, but if I’m going to hear voices in my head all day they need to be talking about other people murdering other people. Is it distasteful to listen to accounts of real people’s crime and suffering? In my opinion, and millions of many others’, not with the best podcasts.
This is a list of the true crime podcasts I am hooked on. If you’re not into podcasts but like true crime books or documentaries, I suggest branching out. The following shows hold hours of interest, insight and entertainment.
I’ve put a link to an episode or two I’d recommend (where possible).
Golden true crime podcast rule. Never, ever, research a case covered before listening to the podcast on it in full. That includes crimes you think you know. These guys have all done way more research than you and the joy is in the way they can entertain and educate you.
For me, Casefile is the boss of true crime podcasts. A broad range of crimes, very distinctive storytelling style, respectful to the topics and reliable output. The unnamed host, an Aussie with an at times disconcerting, deep, deliberate voice, is brilliant. Every crime is told step by step, the perfect example of a slow reveal and even the cases you think you know don’t play out how you thought they did.
I cannot speak higher of Casefile, I get excited when I see a new episode is out. I text people to let them know. At random. Nan was not amused, although I was surprised she replied given we cremated her three years ago.
The way Casefile tells you about a crime, or crimes, is showcased best in the Amy Lynn Bradley episode and the Daniel Morcombe one. Both are superbly covered, utterly engaging.
AMY LYNN BRADLEY CLICK HERE
DANIEL MORCOMBE CLICK HERE
Many true crime shows have a niche, if not all of the successful ones. Finding what you enjoy is only achieved by trying a few. I love True Crime Garage, although the American commitment to saying “individual” baffles me.
It’s hard to pick a best episode, given True Crime Garage often uses two or more for each crime/ crimes. Their three part coverage of the shocking Oklahoma girl scout murders is enlightening, and I strongly suggest you immerse yourself. CLICK HERE FOR EPISODE 1/3
Despite only discovering the wonderful Crime Junkie podcast a few weeks ago, the duo of Ashley and Brit are easy to engage with and it is a show I powered through past episodes of at record speed, all while telling everyone I know to. Nan didn't reply this time, although I am starting to think her phone may have been nicked before she died.
Soft, funny and sincere,they have a wonderful eye for true crime tropes (“it’s never a mannequin”) and care deeply about making sure there’s a message or lesson in their work.
True crime is apparently most popular with women, and all of the women I know who love true crime podcasts love these ladies. I do too.
The Crime Junkie coverage of the Powell Family murders is heartbreaking, brilliant, and a great example of the show’s strengths. CLICK HERE
The real life happenings S-Town follows as they unfold are nothing short of bizarre and enthralling. I had to stop one episode as it was too close to home, I got emotional. The brilliance of this stirring, journalistic endeavour makes S-Town the most powerful podcast on the list.
Brian Reed, who is less a host and more an investigative journalist who stumbled onto a mine then has to describe its effects in realtime, is brilliant. S-Town is eight episodes alone- one shift in my kitchen. I couldn’t do it at work, though, as I had to cry and couldn’t blame the onions.
Presented by an Australian who is resident in Canada, Canadian True Crime oddly enough focuses on crimes in the vast expanse of north, north America. Geography ain’t my thing. What’s Alaska count as? Anyway, I digress. Canadian True Crime shines a rather honest light on Canada’s criminal system, from both sides.
Kristi Lee hosts with compassion. There aren’t many laughs in Canadian True Crime, but why should there be. It is well researched and the crimes are told brilliantly, occasionally using audio from news interviews and police calls- often to tear jerking effect.
Kristi’s (and team) telling of École Polytechnique Massacre destroyed me on many levels. Give it a listen. CLICK HERE
Her coverage of the clusterfuck serial killer Robert Pickton evoked is a brutal insight to both crime and justice. CLICK HERE FOR PART 1/4
Ah poor Adnan Syed. Someone I know genuinely thought there was no way Serial’s groundbreaking first series was covering a real case, but I suppose in a way that’s a compliment. Covering one murder and a potential wrong conviction, it is captivating and bonkers beyond belief. Series two was not my thing but I admire how Sarah Koenig looks for new angles and types of storytelling.
Series three is fascinating and totally different from the first (which catapulted true crime podcasts into the mainstream). Three is Serial's fractious, idiosyncratic yet superb breakdown of true crime, as it filters through the torrid systems in place for its understanding in Cleveland.
Listen to Serial. True crime podcast Yahweh.
Obscura is dark, very stylised and mixes media. The podcast covers some very interesting crimes in a way which sometimes even shocks me. Good thing I have headphones on at work. Now. Not having that conversation again.
Very similar to True Crime Garage, which is not meant as an insult. I look forward to every new episode they put out.
Minds of Madness, They Walk Among Us, Serial Killers, The Dark Side Of
While writing this I realised I use the portmanteau “storytelling” an awful lot. True story. Crime telling. As I said above, it’s a quagmire, but these podcasts are not lectures, they‘re an eye into another world for you to make a decision on. Enjoy.