While psychological thriller books tend to steal the spotlight this time of year (what with summer reading and all), we're partial to true crime podcasts. Ever since Season 1 of Serial wrapped in 2014, we've been looking for something to fill that Sarah Koenig void in our iTunes library. Fortunately for fellow fans of the genre, there are lots of compelling cold-case pods to choose from.
Ranging from an Los Angeles Times–produced podcast that's garnered a cult following to an addictive pod with over 42,300 positive ratings on iTunes, we're recommending true crime podcasts that are so compelling that you'll want to listen to them all in a single sitting. Do you have your headphones ready? Ahead are the nine podcasts that will have you on the edge of your beach towel this season, including one addictive pod that reviewers are deeming the next Serial.
In the Dark
Drawing comparisons to Serial, the second season of In the Dark delves into the case of Curtis Flowers, a man who has been tried six times for the same crime and maintained his innocence for 21 years. The popular podcast has garnered 6554 ratings on iTunes and a solid 4.5 stars.
Promising review: "This podcast is expertly crafted. The last 10 minutes of episode two is enough to make me keep listening and needing more. Even though I already know the 'ending,' I find myself needing this story to unravel."
Caliphate follows Rukmini Callimachi, a reporter for The New York Times, as she investigates ISIS. After a chance meeting with a former member of the Islamic State, Callimachi exposes startling truths about the terrorist group and those who eventually choose to flee it.
Promising review: "In a world where fake news is rampant, it seems quite timely to have a NYT podcast go behind the scene, approaching news from the journalist's angle. No other podcast has sparked me to write a review—Caliphate is my first for a reason. 10/10 would recommend."
Up and Vanished
Amateur investigator Payne Lindsey takes an in-depth look into the unsolved disappearance of Georgia beauty queen and high school teacher Tara Grinstead in Up and Vanished. With over 17,300 ratings on iTunes, this podcast is a hit with the true crime crowd.
Promising review: "While my heart breaks for Tara's family, this podcast does a wonderful job of telling her story and keeping people interested in this terrifying incident. I had searched for podcasts similar to Someone Knows Something and Serial, and Up and Vanished did not disappoint!"
Also from the producers of Up and Vanished, Atlanta Monster examines the infamous Atlanta child murders that occurred between 1979 and 1981 with over 25 victims. Host Payne Lindsey interviews detectives, family members, politicians, and scientists in order to determine whether the man accused was guilty of the crimes.
Promising review: "My husband and I sat silently in our living room listening to the show on our Bluetooth speaker. We didn't check our phones, we didn't get out our tablets. We were transfixed. We shared the occasional comment but were otherwise enthralled! Like an old-fashioned radio drama but with real, captivating, well-thought-out content."
Another true crime podcast that's garnered something of a cult following, this L.A. Times–produced podcast has over 17,200 ratings and 4.5 stars on iTunes. Host Christopher Goffard untangles a web of lies constructed by the titular character in Dirty John. Reviews promise that you'll be gripped until the show's shocking conclusion.
Promising review: "Was hooked after the first episode and listened straight through to the end. It was both fascinating and disturbing how nice, normal people can be [taken] in so fully by those with evil intent."
From the creators behind HBO's The Jinx, Crimetown investigates how organized crime shaped the city Providence, Rhode Island. This five-star podcast has over 7460 ratings, which probably explains why it's about to be adapted into a television show.
Promising review: "I was a bit on the fence with the premise, but 30 seconds in, I was hooked. The characters they interviewed are a quote gold mine."
Gripping and addictive, Accused has over 3070 ratings and 4.5 stars on iTunes. Season 2 of this true-crime podcast focuses on the murder of a kind-hearted prison minister in Kentucky. Host Amber Hunt poses the provocative question: "Was William Virgil wrongly convicted for murder?"
Promising review: "Fans of the original Serial should check this one out. Amber Hunt and her team go digging into three decades of mystery with a thoroughness that makes yet another cold case compelling and relevant."
Someone Knows Something
Host David Ridgen investigates cold cases, consulting the victim's family members and tracking down leads in search of justice. The most recent season of Someone Knows Something dives into a Mississippi murder case involving the Klu Klux Klan.
Promising review: "If you like mysteries, there's a good chance you'll love this podcast as much as I do. I look forward to each episode and love the storytelling. The host makes me feel like I am there with how descriptive he is about what he is seeing and feeling."
My Favorite Murder
Arguably the most popular true-crime podcast on iTunes, My Favorite Murder has over 42,300 ratings and a glowing five stars. As the podcast's name suggests, macabre hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark discuss their favorite murders.
Promising review: "Do you love crime and morbidity but fancy yourself a nonetheless upbeat and amusing, well-adjusted human? You've come to the right place! Perfect hosts—engaging and charismatic—and interesting subject matter. Like high tea at a morgue." ■
Looking for more recommendations? Listen to these podcasts before they become hit TV shows.
Ed. note: Customer reviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.