In the 2020s, there is a constant influx of podcasts, particularly true crime ones, which, while great for true crime fans, means it can be hard to keep track of the need-to-listen ones.
Doing the hard work for you, we have rounded up some of the best-serialised podcasts out there. Forget the case-per-week options, these are the longform podcasts that focus on one story only (at least, per season).
One of the originals that got us all hooked, the first season of Serial investigates the murder of Hae Min Lee. It might have debuted in 2014, but it still has us all talking about the case. Particularly as it has led to a real-world case update: Adnan Syed, Lee’s boyfriend and prime suspect in her murder who was imprisoned for the crime for over two decades was recently released. Time for a relisten?
What happened to Annie?
Coming from Sky News’ StoryCast, over six episodes, this multi-award-winning podcast investigates the death of Swedish musician Annie Borjesson, who was found dead on a beach in Scotland in 2005. Although her death was ruled a suicide, her family had doubts and this podcast investigates the questions her death brought up.
From BBC Radio 4, Fairy Meadow tells of three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer, who was abducted from an Australian beach she was at with her family in 1970. With extensive interviews with Cheryl’s family, as well as police and witnesses, this is a story of one family’s tragedy, offering new insights into a mystery that has endured for over 50 years.
Who Killed Emma?
Led by the BAFTA-winning Scottish investigative reporter Sam Poling, Who Killed Emma investigates the brutal murder of 27-year-old Emma Caldwell in 2005. An investigation four years in the making, the eight-episode series investigates Emma’s death and subsequent investigation, including never-before-heard accounts and even, a confrontation with Poling’s prime suspect. It is another case which has seen a recent arrest, so now’s the time to listen.
Can I Tell You a Secret?
From The Guardian, journalist Sirin Kale spends six episodes (plus an epilogue) detailing the unbelievable case of cyberstalker Matthew Hardy, who was able to harass, bully and stalk at least 62 women for 11 years without any retribution. Until recently, when he was jailed for nine years. Go in-depth with the entire fascinating case with Can I Tell You a Secret?
The Teacher’s Pet
From The Australian, The Teacher’s Pet investigated the cold case of Lynette Dawson’s disappearance, the mother of two who vanished in the early 80s. It goes beyond murder, though, with allegations of sexual molestation and grooming. This is another podcast that has recently led to an update on the decades-old crime, with a conviction for Dawson’s murder.
Like Can I Tell You a Secret? (in the sense of the type of crime, only), Sweet Bobby is a dramatic and engrossing tale of what catfishing can do to a person, as well as abuse, coercion and an examination of our online identities. This time, one woman is at the centre of the story: London-based Kirat Assi, who lost a decade of her life in a fake relationship that encompassed over 50 different online personas. The twists will keep you completely enthralled.
For a series focusing on a current story, look no further than Hunting Ghislaine, with investigative reporter John Sweeney. The investigation going deep into her past, from childhood to the present day, this podcast will give an insight beyond the headlines.
In the Dark
An investigative journalism podcast that has been running for years, In the Dark, focuses on a different case each season. Their first began with Jacob Wetterling (with a real-time update) and their second, on Curtis Flowers (a man tried six times for the same crime) has subsequently led to an overturned conviction and Flowers seeing all charges against him dropped. For detailed, thorough investigations, In the Dark is a must-listen.
From CBC Podcasts, this long-running podcast is currently on its 15th season, with each season taking on a new case, on which it does a thorough investigative deep dive. Past seasons include takes on Satanic Panic, NXIVM and the 1999 disappearance of 15-year-old Sharmini Anandavel.
To Live and Die in LA
Rolling Stone journalist Neil Strauss hosts this award-winning podcast that investigates the disappearance of an aspiring starlet from her Hollywood apartment. It is now in its second season.
Missing and Murdered
Another from CBC Podcasts, Missing and Murdered focuses on the cases of missing Indigenous people in Canada. In their second season, Finding Cleo solved the question of what happened to Cleo L Madonia, who had disappeared decades before.
Someone Knows Something
From the Canadian award-winning David Ridgen, Someone Knows Something is an investigative podcast dedicated to cold cases—the premise being someone must know something in every case. First released in 2016, the podcast is now in its seventh season, meaning there is plenty to dig into.
Covering a cold case that was solved using genealogy and genetic techniques for the first time, Bear Brook is a fascinating series on the Bear Brook murders: four bodies, belonging to a woman and three young girls, were found in two separate barrels in 1985 in Bear Brook State Park. Hosted by Jason Moon (who had been working on the case since 2015) and released by New Hampshire Public Radio, the investigation covers everything from the murders to how the case was eventually solved.
Ostensibly the story of the crimes of John Meehan, Dirty John works as well as a complex investigation of deceit, manipulation and murder, as well as a family that is torn apart by one man’s relationship with their mother. A six-episode series from The Los Angeles Times, it has since inspired a television show. Truth is stranger than fiction, here.
Are you a fan of true crime podcasts? Take a listen to Murdertown, the podcast series that uncover a different perspective on the town where you live. Available on Apple and Spotify, full episodes are also available to watch on YouTube.