Trust me when I say I’ve listened to every tale of evil under the sun.
It’s a habit I’ve cultivated almost exclusively around cleaning and running, purely because I need to be coaxed into actually doing them. I had to ban myself from listening on my dusk walks though when I started freezing in fear whenever I saw a man on the street.
Honestly, I feel a little defensive about my true crime habit. From the reactions I get when talking about it, it’s evident most people think true crime isn’t something nice young women should be dwelling on. I suspect it’s seen as sadistic and ghoulish. I write murder mystery games, so sometimes when people give me the “you like true crime?” look from under furrowed brows, I pretend it’s for research.
In truth, I listen to true crime because it’s bewitching, intoxicating. As anyone who’s read my poetry will have worked out, I cut my teeth on Agatha Christie novels. As a result, it would seem my brain is hard-wired to enjoy puzzle-solving above all else.
But there’s more to it than that. There’s another, deeper level to my absorption.
True crime can reveal so much more than “who done it”. It can be a helter-skelter journey into human nature. Into the ways in which communities can shatter and reform after tragic events. Into the longterm effects of violent deaths on those left behind. Into the specific social and economic histories of towns and cities around the world.
But here’s the thing. I’ve listened widely and can confirm that not all true crime podcasts are created equal. Naming no names, but some have made me shudder with their insensitivity and sensationalism. Hard pass.
The ones explored below are those I’m convinced you’ll get something out of beyond being simply spooked. They’re stories producers and journalists have poured their hearts into, with devastatingly poignant results.