“I love true crime.”
Sitting down for coffee with a friend and blurting out these words hasn’t always been so socially accepted. Over the last decade, however, true crime as a genre cropped up seemingly everywhere. Books, TV series and movies are some of the obvious venues, but recently another medium of entertainment has taken center stage, and taken it by storm.
True crime podcasts have flooded the playlists of commuters, cubicle-dwellers, gym-goers, and dog-walkers everywhere. The release of Serial, Sarah Koenig’s This American Life spinoff, was something of a reawakening for the genre, and after its wrap, many listeners found themselves in search of something to fill the void. Fortunately, as a podcast enthusiast who checks all of the above boxes, I’ve had plenty of time to compile a list of some of my tried and true crime favorites. Though you may lose a night of sleep or two, I guarantee these won’t disappoint.
Generation Why was actually my introduction to true crime podcasts, and I’ve never looked back. As the hosts summarize the show on their website, “Two friends, Aaron Habel and Justin Evans, discuss theories and share their opinions on unsolved murders, controversies, mysteries, conspiracies, and true crime.” These guys have been in the game since 2012, and truly offer a little something for everyone. They’re well-researched, always bring compelling and unique perspectives to the table, and even leave room for some humor and cultural commentary. If you’re looking for variety and personality, I highly recommend.
Sword and Scale
Sword and Scale is perhaps best prefaced with the disclaimer played before each episode begins: “Sword and Scale contains adult themes and violence. It is not intended for all audiences. Listener discretion is advised.” Described as “an internet radio show and website covering the dark underworld of crime and the criminal justice system’s response to it…It’s the truest form of true-crime where nothing is off the table,” S&S brings something else entirely to the true crime realm. S&S has been around since 2013 and is hosted by Mike Boudet, a podcaster with a background in audio engineering, broadcasting and fiction writing. As far as true crime podcasts go, in my opinion, it does the best job at creating an atmosphere within each narrative, hurdling listeners deep into the fabric of the case, with incredible ambient sounds, music and effects to tell an immersive and visceral story.
The Vanished is quickly become one of the most intriguing true crime podcasts on my list. Created in 2016, it’s hosted by Marissa Jones and is described as “a true crime podcast that explores the stories of those who have gone missing…interviewing the loved ones who are still searching for answers.” Each week, Jones covers a case of someone who has simply vanished without a trace, and works with family and friends to try to retrace the steps of the victim’s final days and bring visibility to cold cases and dead ends. This is a great option for true crime enthusiasts who want mystery without as much violence, and have a soft spot for the perspectives of loved ones left in the aftermath.
“Fact is scarier than fiction” is the tagline of this true crime gem. Launched in 2016, Casefile is hosted by an anonymous narrator and summarized as “a new true crime podcast…we cover the shocking, the terrifying, the strange, and the unsolved.” As an Australian true crime podcast, Casefile distinguishes itself not only for its repertoire of equally fascinating non-American cases, but also for the captivating storytelling and thorough character research that brings each case to life. The narrative is incredibly engaging from start to finish, and provides a rare glimpse into the criminal underworld Down Under.