The best true crime podcasts cover the gamut of shocking misdeeds, from terrifying murder cases to captivating stories of cults, to what might at first glance feel like a less serious form of malfeasance: the con. But delving into the worlds explored by genre-defining podcasts like Sweet Bobby, You Know Mordechai?, Conning the Con, Dirty John, Who the Hell is Hamish?, and Scam Goddess only proves that con-artists, scammers, and fraudsters can be some of the most insidious and destructive criminals out there.
New to the table are two new podcasts exploring very different - but no less fascinating and fear-inducing - tales of serious fraud.
Carrie Jade Does Not Exist is the story of how one woman, who took on over six different identities - including an activist, a therapist, a surrogate, and a mother - infiltrated the lives of vulnerable people, and lied her way into gaining their trust. This six-part series from Acast, hosted by comic and presenter Sue Perkins alongside investigative journalist Katherine Denkinson, explores how ‘Carrie’ built up a picture-perfect persona until she finally got tangled up in her very own web of lies.
The Pirate of Prague meanwhile is a new Apple Original podcast that tells the tale of a charming young Czech who promises staggering returns. An entire country’s oil industry is up for grabs. America’s top investors want in. But if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. It’s a story of private jets, $20,000 dinners, and suitcases stuffed with cash but also about the collapse of communism and the birth of the oligarchs. And it’s a story of plain-old human greed... of how far the rich will go to get even richer. Hosts Joe Nocera and Peter Elkind follow the trail, beginning in the Bahamas, where the charismatic financial genius at the centre of the fraud is lying low.
Both of these new shows demonstrate that scams are still very much thriving and if there’s one thing you can always be sure of: the con is on. To dive deeper into the dark depths of serial fraudsters, along with a whole host other despicable characters, here’s our list of the best true crime podcasts available now.
The best true crime podcasts right now
32. Believe in Magic with Jamie Bartlett
The best true crime podcasts challenge your assumptions. They make you wonder if you’re making the right call as you mentally label one party guilty or perhaps merely a liar. Believe in Magic does exactly this as Jamie Bartlett investigates the tragic story of a terminally ill teenage girl and her charity specifically set up for helping children with similar illnesses. When the world starts to question her illness, things go in a disturbing direction you won't see coming.
Just like with The Missing Cryptoqueen, Bartlett effortlessly traverses a complex tale, constantly keeping us informed with new information and never losing sight of the humanity of the story itself. There’s a lot going on here and it’s not always easy listening but Believe in Magic is an utterly bingeable true crime podcast with a keen eye on celebrity and internet culture.
31. Edge of Reality
Audible's brilliant exclusive podcast has labelled itself as the story that TV is too scared to tell, and it may well be right. Edge of Reality is presented by Jacques Peretti and investigates the growing number of deaths linked to reality television production. The podcast goes right back to the beginning of reality TV and the warning signs that were ignored on the quest for cheap entertainment. Peretti interviews producers, contestants, and dozens of people linked to the multi billion pound industry and uncovers frankly disturbing truths. You can't help but feel complicit in this dangerous game as those abused by the system break their NDAs and finally have their say. Prepare to watch some very successful shows in a very different way before switching them off altogether.
30. A Very British Cult
It’s always important to remember that no one joins a cult on purpose. As peppy as My Favourite Murder’s ‘you’re in a cult, call your dad’ slogan is, no-one inside one can easily recognise their situation and certainly wont listen to so-called reason. Catrin Nye’s BBC podcast A Very British Cult has this idea at its heart. A woman called Dawn contacted Nye to tell her that she was worried about her boyfriend’s obsessive behavior with regards to a life coaching company.
This call leads the journalist down a frankly frightening rabbit hole as she investigates Lighthouse, an organisation that says it has its clients best interests at heart. If you’ve listened to a lot of the best true crime podcasts, you’ll probably already have read ‘interests’ as ‘bank accounts’. Nye is a compelling storyteller and relentless investigator as she breaks through the layers surrounding Lighthouse. A must listen.
29. Do You Know Mordechai?
There's a glut of brilliant true crime podcasts at the moment revealing the serial scams of some rather heinous con men. Do You Know Mordechai is a particularly exceptional highlight as, not only does Canadian journalist Kathleen Goldhar have a personal friendship with one of Mordechai Horowitz's victims, she also gets to interview the man himself.
This limited series is a devastating investigation into the victims of a serial conman who pathologically lied to an untold number of women after he met them on Tinder. Unlike someone like Netflix's Tinder Swindler Simon Leviev, it wasn't all about money here but as the podcast goes on, more and more women who had been conned came forward, painting a grim picture of Mordechai's wake. Goldhar's journey into the psyche of the man himself is particularly fascinating as she interviews his family members and, vitally, those no longer ashamed to speak out.
28. Sweet Bobby
None of us think we’d be catfished. It’s what makes the prospect so compelling when it comes to a true crime podcast because we like to think that we’d be immune, that we wouldn’t be taken in. But when you hear the story of Kirat, a woman in the UK who fell victim to one of the world’s potentially most sophisticated catfishing scams, you might think otherwise. Sweet Bobby is officially one of the strangest and most disturbing of scams because of its lack of a desire for money but control instead. And it comes with some of the most jaw-dropping true crime moments since The Jinx.
Told deftly by Alexi Mostrous from Tortoise Media, Sweet Bobby is a six-part series but Mostrous will be continuing to cover the case. The problem with a crime like this one is that the UK police struggle to find exactly the crime that has been committed. A stolen identity is only the beginning here and technically the advanced use of social media isn’t against the law either – even if for nefarious means. Yes, we’re being teasery for a reason but just go and listen. Sweet Bobby is one of the best true crime podcasts of 2021.
27. Bad Blood: The Final Chapter
True crime podcasts are packed with scams and fraudsters but very few of these cases are as public and brazen as the one of Elizabeth Holmes. If you haven't heard the name, this is the staggering story of billions of dollars of investment in a medical technology company called Theranos which Holmes founded. Holmes told the world that she had created machines that could perform blood tests on just one drop of blood taken from a finger. The only problem, even after endless money was poured into the company, was that she hadn't.
Bad Blood: The Final Chapter is presented by journalist John Carreyrou who broke the original story of everything not being as it seemed within Theranos. Carreyrou went on to write a book about the case and is now back with this podcast as Holmes has her day in court. This is a story of corrupt Silicon Valley culture and of what happens when lives are suddenly on the line when someone tries to be medicine's Steve Jobs. Now complete with Elizabeth Holmes' trial verdict, this is absolutely compelling listening. And the bonus is that you'll also want to read the book straight after.
26. Darknet Diaries
Quite rightly, the majority of the best true crime podcasts are from the survivor’s perspective; from the side of law and order, putting together the jigsaw pieces and solving the case. Not always the Darknet Diaries. This Venn diagram of technology and true crime peers under the rocks of the cyber world, interviewing hackers, security checkers, and professional analysts. Jack Rhysider’s storytelling technique is particularly entertaining as he makes each interviewee the quotable part of their own story while he focuses on the facts. Whether he’s talking to Xbox hackers or those who have made thinking like a criminal their full-time job, every story is a fascinating delve into a world that’s really going to make you turn on two-factor authentication and use a password manager. Well researched, smart, and never too obsessed with tech jargon, Darknet Diaries is sometimes bleak but brilliant stuff.
25. Conning the Con
There’s never any shortage of conmen and women in true crime podcasts but usually these are stories told by a journalist or presenter. Not Conning the Con. Produced and hosted by two sisters, Emma and Sarah Ferris, this is a podcast born from Emma’s direct experience when she met a man on Tinder who tried to scam her out of $300,000. Incredibly, Emma hit record as well as speaking to law enforcement meaning we share her experience as she turns the tables on a man called Andrew Tonks.
This is an astonishing and personal story but the sisters also bring in a psychologist, Dr. Sophie Muir, who breaks down the barrier-breaking psychopathic behavior of those who try to con us. This means the multipart podcast isn’t just Emma’s tale of strength amidst a situation that, quite frankly, would make most of us want to crawl under a rock, but also an inspirational and educational guide to make sure that we don’t fall into the same traps. Because, as we learn, it's a lot easier than any of us like to think.
24. Chasing Cosby
Chasing Cosby can be an exceptionally difficult listen but that’s exactly what makes it so vital. This Los Angeles Times podcast is presented by journalist Nicki Wiesensee Egan and interviews multiple women who were the victims of Bill Cosby as well as those involved in his prosecution. The fact that this is only a small percentage of the women he sexually abused should be shocking enough, but the scale of Cosby's criminal behaviour, and the deception over decades is a terrifying reminder of the power of fame.
In only six episodes and one bonus episode Weisensee Egan paints a devastating picture of the damage caused by an inept legal system that left only one woman, Andrea Constand, able to bring him to justice. But the stories here are ones of survival too. These are women who were left unable to talk to anyone about their experiences until now. The Cosby story sadly isn’t the only one of its kind but podcasts like this one deliver a very necessary message.
23. Finding Q: My Journey Into Q Anon
Cults and conspiracy theories are true crime staples, making the rise of the right wing QAnon an irresistible hot topic for true crime podcasts. Yet few documentaries even get close to what journalist Nicky Woolf achieves in Finding Q. His relentless quest to uncover the true identity of Q sees him fall deep down the rabbit hole, sending journalists into media free QAnon conventions, and tracking the movements of those behind notorious Q posting sites.
Woolf also speaks to the so-called ‘Q casualties,’ those who have lost family and friends to outlandish far right conspiracy theories, adding an essential humanity to this journey. From the outside it might seem ludicrous that anyone believes that Democrats engage regularly in satanic blood drinking rituals but these are the dangerous beliefs that stormed the Capitol on January 6th 2021. Woolf’s narration style is consistently wry and entertaining but never at the expense of his subjects. Finding Q is an Audible podcast, meaning you need a subscription to listen but this is the perfect excuse you’ve been looking for. Gripping stuff.
22. The Missing Cryptoqueen
The best true crime podcasts aren’t just about murder most foul. The Missing Cryptoqueen from BBC Sounds is about one of the biggest modern cryptocurrency scams and makes for, quite frankly, astonishing listening. Dr Ruja Ignatova, the founder of One Coin, had it all... Packed conferences, fame, the cover of magazines, and everybody’s money, meaning that when she disappeared without a trace, things got very, very strange. But not, oddly, strange enough for people to stop investing in One Coin.
This is Jamie Bartlett’s incredible investigation into Ignatova’s disappearance and the multi-billion dollar pyramid scheme that is One Coin. His quest for the truth uncovers the sad stories of victims of the One Coin scam; everyday people who have lost thousands thanks to aggressive and convincing selling techniques. The global stories are heartbreaking but Bartlett’s breakdown of the psychology and techniques at play really bring to life how these scams can truly happen to anyone. Add in the discussions with those fortunate enough to be at the top of the chain and this is a compelling deep dive. Oh, and in Dec 2022 they're still looking.
21. No Strings Attached
Some murders sound like they should be fiction. Let’s face it, it would be a lot easier to sleep if they were. No Strings Attached is a deep dive into the case of Emile Cilliers and his plot to murder his wife by sabotaging her parachute. Thankfully, miraculously, Vicky Cilliers survived. Emile’s despicable quest for his wife’s life insurance money and the chance to be with another woman is investigated by ITV news correspondent Robert Murphy. While this could so easily sound like a tabloid case of shock and horror, this story is brilliantly told, compassionate and, most importantly, has in-depth interviews with the police involved in the case.
The dogged determination of Wiltshire Police uncovered the true horrific nature of Cillier’s multiple crimes and sordid history, and this is a fascinating look into the layers of an investigation. Detective Constable Maddy Hennah is a particularly incredible interviewee, revealing a passion for the case that brings hope to all those who doubt justice being served. The focus on coercive control also shines an essential light on a vital subject that's becoming ever more prominent within the justice system. Also worth listening to are Robert Murphy’s other true crime podcast, Catching Melanie’s Killer and Behind the Crimes, both of which offer unique perspectives on crimes and those who try and solve them.
20. You Must Remember Manson
Between Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Mindhunter season 2, it’s clear that Charles Manson is still making a grisly impression more than half a century after his crimes. But who was Charlie Manson, what did he and his Family actually do, and what on earth did The Beatles have to do with anything? Here’s where Karina Longworth steps in. A special eleven part series within her history of Hollywood podcast You Must Remember This, her dive into Manson history is essential true crime listening.
While she of course goes into masterfully researched disturbing detail on the murders, Longworth delivers a full colour snapshot of the time itself. She effortlessly brings to life Hollywood in the late '60s as the movie industry was desperately giving itself a facelift to remain relevant amidst the newly born Flower Power. Atmospheric and with the occasional sprinkling of excellent voice actors, You Must Remember Manson is a perfect, not to mention terrifying, history lesson.
19. Dirty John
How dirty is the eponymous John, you might ask? Well, so dirty is the nefarious John Meehan that he has inspired this Los Angeles Times podcast, a documentary series, and a Netflix show starring Eric Bana and Nashville’s Connie Britton. Here is definitely the best place to start though as journalist Christopher Goffard deftly takes us through the whole disturbing story in six bingeable episodes.
After a whirlwind romance of only a couple of months, a 59-year-old Debra Newell marries who she sees as the love of her life. Sure, none of her grown up children trust him, but really, how bad can John be if he’s so helpful and loving all the time? Spoiler: Bad. Really, really bad. Debra and her family spill their souls to Goffard. What’s truly remarkable, though, is not just their honesty, but the truly scary idea that we really don’t know other people the way we think we do.
And, if you can't get enough of Christopher Goffard's style of true crime journalism, his Detective Trapp series is an exceptional gaze into the life of an LA homicide investigator. It's only five episodes long, although the emotional impact makes sure it's not an easy listen.
18. Trust Me: Cults, Extreme Belief, and Manipulation
True crime coverage always feels a bit like it goes through phases. For months we’ll have nothing but cryptocurrency scams before the spotlight swiftly moves onto corporate hoaxes and Tinder swindlers. But one constant always remains; an eternal fascination with cults. And who better to talk through the myriad abuses of power than two cult survivors? Trust Me’s hosts are Lola Blanc, a filmmaker, actress and musician, and Meagan Elizabeth, a comedian and former psychologist.
Together the pair interview specialists in the field as well as former and current cult members and the tone is constantly entertaining but, importantly, never at the expense of the topic. The message here is that joining a cult isn’t just something that happens to other people. There are over 100 episodes of cults to burn your way through and some truly fascinating, if sometimes disturbing, insight. Ever think that the fandom you’re part of is feeling a little culty? You don’t want to miss this one.
17. Who the Hell is Hamish?
Finished with the Teacher’s Pet? It’s time to say hello to Hamish, a podcast that also comes from The Australian newspaper. Listen to this and Dirty John back to back and chances are you’ll never trust anyone you meet online ever again. Thanks, internet. From the outside, Hamish Watson is a suave businessman and charming individual, with his expensive cars and dashing smile.
However, delve below the perma-tanned surface and this is a man who has swindled more than $7 million from innocent individuals around the world and left broken hearts wherever he went. Journalist Greg Bearup makes a perfect narrator here, giving Hamish’s many victims a platform to tell their story, with the time and space they need. Terrifying on so many levels, if nothing else, Who the Hell is Hamish is a great reason to Google your Tinder match ups. Twice.
16. The Dream
Are multi-level marketing companies – MLMs for short – truly a crime? Can it really be a bad thing to have parties where everyone sells products to each other? Well, it turns out that if your friend who is constantly posting links to their Arbonne products on your Facebook wall sounds like they are in a cult, they kind of are. Emmy award-winning journalist and ex-This American Life producer Jane Marie dives into the seedy world of MLMs in this compelling eleven-part podcast.
While companies like Amway swear that they aren’t a pyramid scheme – “because that would be illegal” – the laws around the structure of MLMs are incredibly vague. Interviewing those involved at every level of MLMs, Jane Marie uncovers the fascinating truth behind these elaborate exercises in psychology, manipulation, and, of course, cold hard cash. X-Files-style, it turns out that the nefariousness here goes all the way to the top.
Even better is the fact that Season 2 is available too with Jane Marie investigating the culture of wellness and its associated myriad products in the USA. If you've ever had any questions about Goop, dietary supplements, and essential oils 'changing your life at a cellular level,' here's where to find out that it's, as you might expect, all lies.
The best true crime podcasts bring us into investigations ears-first. They make us feel like we’re truly involved. Few series do this as spectacularly as Cold. Susan Powell disappeared in 2009 and, while her husband Josh was a suspect from the outset, he was never charged or arrested and her body has never been found. Over eighteen hour-long episodes and three comprehensive bonus add-ons, Dave Cawley breaks down the case in granular detail. This is no true crime quick fix. Stories like this one take time.
While we hear interviews with the people who matter, members of the Powell family and the detective who worked on the case, Cawley does his own digging and investigating, revealing details from Susan’s diary, and recordings from within the Powell household. The story itself is deeply upsetting and frustrating as Cawley reveals the desperation of the police at the time as they failed to snare proof of Susan’s husband’s guilt before tragedy struck again. But the case is, as the title says, Cold, and Cawley is still deeply involved, tracking GPS movements from 2009 and attempting to find his way into hard drives. It’s not easy but Cold is essential investigative journalism.
In 2016, Shapearl Well's son Courtney was found outside a police station in Chicago with a bullet wound. Despite an ambulance being called, he died four minutes before he reached the hospital. The podcast Somebody is the truly disturbing investigation by Wells into what happened to her son. So many true crime podcasts have interviews with those directly connected to the case and, thus are hard enough to listen to, but to be taken through an investigation by Courtney's own mother is a challenging experience.
In association with Tenderfoot TV, Wells worked with two journalists from Chicago's The Invisible Institute, a non-profit organisation with the aim of holding public institutions such as the police accountable via investigative reporting. Here in Somebody in her quest to find justice, Wells examines and discusses the clear prejudices when it comes to the murder of a Black man in Chicago. The podcast is an utterly compelling listen with a heart wrenching constant reminder of the reasons that change needs to happen so urgently.
13. The Clearing
There are plenty of sayings about family. You can even buy them etched on wood and scatter them around the house. ‘You don’t have to be mad to live here but it helps…’ or just ‘family is everything.’ April Balascio would probably like to make a giant bonfire of these signs. She had always been afraid that her father was up to no good but at 40, when she pieced together her childhood of endlessly moving home, she called a detective with her suspicions. Edward Wayne Edwards, it turns out, was a serial killer and April had supplied the missing piece for a swathe of cold cases.
The Clearing feels like far more than just solving the unsolved though. April’s honesty about her father and genuine quest for the truth as she and host Josh Dean delve into Edwards’ past, makes this an emotional journey. Supplemented by tapes from Edwards himself, who obsessively documented everything, the podcast is a terrifying glimpse into a depraved psyche. One that was hidden until his daughter finally went looking.
12. Hunting Warhead
The podcasts on this list tend to revolve around traditional police work. Solving murder in physical form. Boots on the ground. Dusting for fingerprints. But what happens when investigations go digital? Hunting Warhead is a riveting six-part series following journalists and police as they scour the dark web for the sources of horrific child abuse images and the criminals associated with them. It's not an easy subject matter. Daemon Fairless' investigation means we hear the voices of not only those trying to enact justice across the internet but also the people affected first hand by these crimes.
Hunting Warhead is a essential reminder that the internet that we experience on a daily basis is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digital content online. While we do all our shopping and reading about the best true crime podcasts on the clear web, much darker and disturbing content is lingering where anyone who wants it, can find it. This is an eye-opening look at the challenges that modern law enforcement faces in the always-online age of the 21st century.
11. The Shrink Next Door
Your relationship with your therapist is meant to be healthy; the one safe space where you can spill all of your innermost thoughts and feelings and not be judged. You’re paying for it, aren’t you? Well, it’s not ruining anything to say that, given that this Bloomberg podcast is from Wondery, the network behind Doctor Death and Dirty John, of course this titular shrink isn’t the good kind.
Again, the less I say the better, but The Shrink Next Door from journalist Joe Nocera is a fascinating glimpse into what happens when therapy goes so, so wrong that right is basically a dot. It’s not an easy listen and you’ll be afraid to ever go to therapy again but this is even more brilliant podcasting with a story effortlessly stranger than fiction.
10. The Teacher’s Pet
Are spoilers still spoilers if it’s real life? This is surely a 21st century existential dilemma. I’ll err on the fact that they are and merely point you in the direction of the this spectacular multi-part series from The Australian, The Teacher’s Pet. Investigative journalist Hedley Thomas presents this tour-de-force of a documentary series, uncovering the details around the disappearance of Lynette Dawson who went missing - *cough* - from her family home in Australia in 1982.
If you’re already screaming ‘the husband did it’ then you’re not new to true crime, but the stories around Lynette’s famous rugby player husband Chris Dawson are devastating. The interviews and desperation of Lynette’s family and friends for justice after 37 years makes The Teacher’s Pet a raw and occasionally frustrating journey, but consider this your new Making a Murderer-style obsession.
As of 2022, you can now listen to The Teacher's Trial, a podcast that follows along with the trial of Chris Dawson who ended up charged for Lynette's murder after the release of the podcast.
9. My Favorite Murder
If you’ve ever heard anyone wish friends farewell with the vaguely sinister-sounding “stay sexy and don’t get murdered,” don’t panic, you’ve just found yourself next to some Murderinos, the collective name for fans of My Favourite Murder. Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff started off recording their thoughts on their favourite crimes in an LA loft in 2016 and have since spawned a veritable true crime phenomenon. Now the pair have their own podcast network and still get together for two episodes a week to deliver their thoughts on all manner of crimes and reader supplied ‘Hometown’ murders.
With their frank attitude towards mental health and hilarious rapport, the duo perfectly balance the darkness of the subject matter with a healthy dollop of humour. This isn’t where to go to find the forensically precise version of events - there’s a weekly ‘Corrections Corner’ slot - but if you want to feel like you’re listening to your friends chat murder in the pub, this is the best true crime podcast for you. It’s time to sit crooked and talk straight.
One of the most satisfying things about Criminal – other than host Phoebe Judge’s ultra-soothing tones – is its glorious conciseness. We all know life is short and if true crime is to be believed, much shorter for some than others. These 20 to 30-minute self-contained stories then are miniature pieces of sometimes disturbing art to fit perfectly into your commute.
From stories about prized poodles being stolen to the origins of the term Stockholm Syndrome and a story from the police investigator who donned a suit and dived the La Brea Tarpits, every episode is a new journey into the truth being stranger than fiction. True crime podcasts can sometimes feel a little samey but Judge always finds fresh voices to bring new perspective to uniquely human stories. It doesn’t matter if you start at the beginning, end, or somewhere in the middle (you monster), Criminal is constantly a surprise and one that will stay with you longer than most.
7. Scam Goddess
Given the contents of this list, it’s ironic to say that true crime podcasts can be utterly, relentlessly grim. Not Scam Goddess. While Laci Mosley does break down some seriously nefarious fraudulent behaviour, she does it with a guest comedian and a brilliant sense of humor. So if you enjoy learning about utterly morally bankrupt behaviour but laughing about it at the same time, Scam Goddess is the best true crime podcast for you.
Mosley is a brilliant host and the tone is a real breath of fresh air amidst so many (understandably) grim pods. Scam Goddess is especially essential listening if you’ve been mainlining the many true crime docs about Elizabeth Holmes, Anna Delvey and co. The hoaxers seem to truly know no bounds.
6. Uncover: Escaping NXIVM
If I was describing these podcasts like Friends episodes, this would be ‘The One With the Allison Mack Sex Cult’. Yep, the Smallville actress. Now you’re interested. Uncover: Escaping NXIVM (pronounced Nexiom) is an eight part podcast series that tells the inside story of Sarah Edmondson, an actress who joined the multi-level-marketing scheme and self help organisation only to discover some seriously questionable activities at work. Can anyone else smell Kool-Aid?
The especially interesting element here is that Edmondson is an old school friend of CBC journalist presenter Josh Bloch, making the tale all the more honest and unique. The story of NXIVM is an incredible one as Bloch investigates cult - wait, I mean multi-level-marketing company - leader Keith Raniere, whose power over women appears frankly super villainous. The case has made headlines and resulted in prison sentences so this is absolutely a perfect place to start to find the human stories behind the screaming tabloid coverage.
And Escaping NXIVM is only the beginning, Uncover constantly moves through a series of fascinating cases. The Village is a devastating investigation into a serial killer preying on men in Toronto's gay neighbourhood, Sharmini looks into the tragic unsolved murder of a 15 year old, and Satanic Panic, is a fascinating dive into the headline grabbing story of daycare owners accused of Satan worship and extreme child abuse.
5. The Last Podcast on the Left
If you want to be that person on the bus desperately trying to cram your fist in your mouth to stop yourself from laughing at absolute depravity, then The Last Podcast on the Left is for you. Host Ben Kissel, researcher Marcus Parks, and comedian Henry Zebrowski now have more than 350 episodes under their blood-spattered belts but don’t let that put you off. Wherever your interest in true crime lies, it’s here.
Whether it’s serial killers, cults, or the paranormal, if it’s weird or disturbing, you can guarantee these three can educate you on the matter, and make you feel exceptionally guilty for wanting to laugh about it. It’s important to note that, while Zebrowski’s brand of humour is an infectious strain of madness, Parks's meticulous research means you’re going to know far more about the horrors at work than your nightmares might like. The multi-part episodes on true crime’s grisly ‘Heavy Hitters’ such as H.H Holmes or Jeffrey Dahmer are unmissable journeys into the evil that men (and women) do.
4. Dr. Death
Not one to listen to before you or any loved ones head into hospital, the first season of this podcast from Wondery looks into the horrific crimes of the titular Dr. Christopher Duntsch. Medical journalist Laura Beil dissects the actions of this neurosurgeon whom patients trusted to rid them of their back pain only to leave them maimed or even worse. The second season covers the no less deplorable Dr Farid Fata who was treating hundreds of patients for cancer that they didn't actually have.
Somehow the depravity here seems even worse than the other crimes on this list. This is butchery lurking in the assumed safety of the operating room. It's also worth noting that Dr. Death is not for the squeamish. Surgical procedure descriptions come thick and fast, pouring into your ears with squirm-inducing physicality. These are situations we all understand and know, making every word and description a ghastly journey into murderous medical malpractice.
And, once you've finished all three seasons that are now available, Laura Beil is a busy human and also presents Bad Batch, also from Wondery. This is a disturbing look at the stem cell treatment industry in the USA and what happens when salesmen promise a miracle cure without the support of science.
3. West Cork
West Cork was previously only available on Audible as it's an Audible Original but is now available on all podcast services meaning you have even less of an excuse not to listen. West Cork is an utterly compelling investigation into the mysterious murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Ireland in 1996. What’s astonishing here isn’t just the access to the inhabitants of West Cork and the twists and turns at work, but the many quotables from the man whom many believe to be the murderer. Much like Serial, your inner guilt-ometer will be a swinging metronome as this tangled web unravels. Prepare to lose eight hours in a very short space of time. As bonus Audible Original podcasts, check out Body of Proof, an investigation into the conviction of an Edinburgh man for the murder of Suzanne Pilley, and also 2019's Murderabilia, a delve into the word of criminal paraphernalia that sells for ludicrous sums online. Serial killer hair anyone?
2. Someone Knows Something
Cold cases are fascinating and it’s easy to see why. These are unfinished stories, jigsaws with only one vital piece still to slot into place. And yet they don’t often make for good watching or listening. We like endings where villains are brought to justice and everyone lives happily ever after. Thus it’s all the more surprising to listen to Someone Knows Something, where CBC’s David Ridgen spends a season at a time investigating a cold case, and realise that the story itself is what matters here.
Ridgen’s gentle narration and interview technique is compelling. Each of the seasons now available is packed with an evocative sense of place, with true heartbreaking insight into those left behind after brutal crimes. The current sixth season investigates the case of Donald Izzett Jr who has been missing for 25 years. His mother suspects he was murdered, a fact seemingly corroborated by a man who claims he saw the body. Listening to Izzett's mother Debra quest for justice is a difficult listen but the lengths to which the investigation goes is a hopeful reassurance of eventual closure.
We can probably blame – or thank – Serial host Sarah Koenig for this entire list of the best true crime podcasts. If it wasn’t for the astonishing success of the first season of Serial, our thirst for piping devastatingly good documentaries into our heads might not be quite as strong. Koenig breaks down the case against Adnan Syed, the then-teenager convicted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999. Koenig’s in-depth breakdown of the case, access to Syed himself, and investigations into the evidence and inconsistencies surrounding the investigation make for ludicrously compelling listening. Incredibly, as of September 2022. the case has finally had an update as Adnan has been released from prison. There's a bonus episode of Serial but also make sure to listen to the podcast Undisclosed for more information on the case.
The 12 episodes that make up season 1 are now true crime podcast royalty for very good reason. Season 2 of Serial departed murder investigations as it followed the story of Bowe Bergdahl, the US soldier captured by the Taliban, but has now returned to its roots for season 3 where each episode covers an individual criminal case.