The Podcast Tales: 8 Mystery Podcasts to Make You Feel Like a Real Detective
by Camryn Flowers
Hello and welcome back! This week, the podcasts will be introduced slightly differently than before, and the available links will be at the end! Most of the podcasts listed are fiction, but there are a few true-crime ones in the mix. But without further ado, here is episode two of The Podcast Tales!
Detective Cayde Marshall hated nights like this. A clear sky, flickering neon lights that need replacing, and the overwhelming cohesion of flavored vape clouds drifting through air from the crowd of pedestrians standing behind him.
He ignored them all and entered the outrageously expensive restaurant, inhaling the stagnant aromas of parmesan, spilled wine, and drying blood.
In the back of the dining room sat a round table with eight chairs, two of which were empty, their occupants instead resting on the floor. The tablecloth, once a stark white, was now more reminiscent of an Osiria rose. Cayde approached an officer taking notes on a tiny hand-sized notepad.
“What have we got?” he asked, not taking his eyes off the table. He hoped he’d find a clue, or maybe some untagged piece of evidence.
The officer looked up at Cayde from his notepad and followed his gaze to the table. “Uhh, eight victims, all poisoned. We’ve already collected samples from the food and drink and sent them to be screened.”
“Who are they?” Cayde glanced at each of the victim’s clothes, noting that each of them were dressed to the nines. Dark colored suits for the men, and floor length dresses in a variety of colors for the women. Rolexes adorned wrists, pearls and diamonds dangled from necks and ears. They hadn’t even made it past the second course, some sort of soup. Of the eight wine glasses set around the table, only two remained upright, the other six’s contents created a blooming pattern across the top of the tablecloth.
“Podcasts, detective,” the officer replied.
“Tell me about them. What do you know so far?”
The officer flipped pages in his small notepad and pointed to the body furthest from their position. Behind him was a mirror that spanned the length of the wall, reflecting the entire scene.
“Their name is Solve This Murder. They’re a play-along podcast where the listener follows Detective Bill Billingham as he solves murder mysteries. According to reviews, every mystery is full of twists and turns and lets the listener try and piece the clues together themselves.”
“Play-along? What’s that mean?” Cayde wasn’t a podcast listener. He preferred classical jazz. Call it a hunch, but he got the feeling that this officer liked them.
“It means that the listener can take notes on the clues and interviews and try to solve the murder before the final episode of that specific mystery. People who guess correctly get added to the ‘Wall of Detectives.’” Cayde did not miss the impressed tone the officer had.
“Oh, and the website lets you review Bill’s notes after the mystery is finished. That’s about it. They finished the latest mystery on September 1st, and the series is still ongoing.”
Cayde nodded. “Alright, who’s next?”
The officer flipped a page. “Bridgewater. It’s a paranormal mystery about a folklore professor trying to solve the disappearance of his father. There’s a lot of supernatural aspects in it and it is pretty high rated. It has some famous actors in it, uh, Misha Collins, Melissa Ponzio, Karan Soni, and wow, Nathan Fillion. And it’s also ongoing.”
“I’m going to pretend like I know who they are. Keep going,” he replied.
“Next is Deadly Manners. It’s a dark-comedy murder mystery set during a snowed-in dinner party in 1954. Reviewers say it has a Clue meets Darkness Becomes Her vibe. It also stars some big names. Kristin Bell, RuPaul, Dennis O’Hare, and the host of The NoSleep Podcast, David Cummings. According to the waitress, this one was a staff favorite.”
Cayde ran a hand through his hair. “Please tell me there are no more actors involved in the rest of these.”
The officer sucked in a breath. “Well, sir, that would be a lie. There are two more actor-involved ones, the rest just have hosts. Next is Batman: Unburied. It’s about Batman working as a forensic pathologist in Gotham Hospital examining serial killer victims. It stars Winston Duke, Gina Rodriguez, Lance Reddick, Jason Isaacs, and a few other big names. It’s got a second season and a few spin-offs coming.
“After that is Homecoming, a psychological thriller centering on a soldier trying to return to civilian life and the caseworker that helps him. This one, while scripted, is a bit different. It’s told via therapy sessions, phone calls, and overheard conversations. The big names in this one include Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, and Catherine Keener. This one is also completed.”
The officer flipped another page, going to start his description of the next podcast when Cayde interrupted. “So, that was in fact the last of the actor-involved podcasts, right? I’m not sensing a connection between them all yet. But I don’t want to jump to conclusions, so tell me about the rest.”
“Well, that was the last of the fiction podcasts, detective. These last three are true-crime.”
“I love true-crime,” Cayde deadpanned, glancing at the officer.
The officer blinked slowly, trying to determine if Cayde was serious or not, and what reaction would be appropriate. “Was that . . . a joke, sir?”
“No, I’m serious, I love true-crime. Why do you think I’m a detective?”
“I thought you became a detective because you were following in your mother’s footsteps?”
“. . . Right. Anyway, Next up is Serial. There are three seasons. Seasons one and two focus on one case each, and season three covers a new courtroom case each episode. For season one alone, the host listened to testimonies, interrogations, sorted through thousands of documents, discovered a trial cover-up, and laid it all out. She’s very thorough. It’s a very popular podcast, currently completed, and offers transcriptions on their website as well.”
The officer wasted no time jumping right into the next one. Flipping a page and reciting his very detailed notes. Cayde clocked the time. 8:30 p.m.. The call came in at 7:15, and he’d arrived at 8:20. Something about the level of detail about each of these podcasts tickled at his brain, but he ignored it for the time being.
“Alright, S-Town is about a man who hates his small town so much he decides he’s sick of it and is going to do something about it. He emails the staff of another podcast, This American Life, asking them to investigate an alleged murder. Once they agree to do so, the story spins so much deeper than originally thought. This one was short and sweet.”
“I’m curious, how much deeper?” Cayde asked.
“Sir if I told you, then that’d be a spoiler.”
He thought about this for a moment, but didn’t press it. “Fine, tell me about the last one.”
“Yes sir.” Another page flip.
“Empty Frames is about two thieves dressed as police officers who walk into a Boston museum and leave with thirteen pieces of artwork.The podcast digs into the case, theories, and the impact the robbery had on the economy. It is unsolved to this day. There are three seasons and the last episodes were months ago so it’s safe to say that this one is also done for now.”
“So we have our victims. We have our method. What’s the motive? What ties them all together?” Cayde kneeled next to Serial, who lay next to S-Town.
“Well, there’s one connection but it’s not for all of them, just those two. Serial and S-Town are produced by the same team. The only other thing I could think of is that they’re all available on Spotify. But most of them also have their own playback website as well,” the officer replied.
Cayde refused to admit he had no clue what the motive was. Not even a hint. He replayed every second of him walking into the restaurant. Not a detail would be missed.
But no matter what image he replayed in his mind or what he saw with his eyes, everything circled back to the level of detail. How did this officer get the actors in those podcasts in that amount of time? How did he have time to research that much and fit it all on that tiny notepad? It’s almost as if it were memorized.
He stood back up, about to ask the officer another question, but he was gone, having disappeared into the throng of other officers and forensic teams working the dining room.
He was gone, along with the answers to all of Cayde’s unasked questions.
Batman Unburied is available on Spotify.
And that about wraps it up. Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to read more, here is episode one of The Podcast Tales! Stay tuned for the next one!