The true-crime podcast universe is ever expanding. We’re here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week, our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists will pick their favorites. To read last week’s edition, click here.
In 1998, Devonia Inman was arrested and charged with the murder of Donna Brown, a night manager at a Taco Bell in Adel, Georgia — but if he’s guilty, why have there been more murders in the small Southern town? In this seven-episode series, the Intercept’s Liliana Segura and Jordan Smith do some serious boots-on-the-ground work to figure out why Inman is still in jail despite unreliable witnesses, some of whom have since recanted. So far I’ve listen to two of the seven episodes, and the details these journalists are turning up are maddening, including a phone call with a Georgia law enforcement official who sneers, “Isn’t it a clue when I don’t return your call, I don’t intend to talk to you?” (Note: The series is currently exclusive to Stitcher Premium, but it will be released week by week for free beginning December 20th.) —Jenni Miller
Uncover: Bomb on Board: “The Bomb”
In its second season, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation podcast investigates one of the country’s biggest airline disasters: the 1965 crash of Canadian Pacific Airlines Flight 21. Believed to be caused by a bomb hidden in the plane’s lavatory, the explosion and subsequent crash just outside of 100 Mile House, British Columbia, resulted in the deaths of all 52 souls onboard — a figure that may or may not include the perpetrator. More than 50 years on, the case is still unsolved. At the time, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police narrowed their focus down to four primary onboard suspects, but rumors have long swirled about a fifth man, a disgruntled former pilot, who may have planted the bomb before takeoff. The RCMP seemingly never gave much credence to the theory, as a timing device was never uncovered (meaning someone would had to have been onboard to detonate the bomb). In this week’s episode, the podcast’s hosts, Ian Hanomansing and Johanna Wagstaffe — with the help of explosives experts — try to re-create the initial tests that were conducted in the ’60s to figure out if some of those 50-year-old theories could be true. (In Wagstaffe’s words: “Know the bomb, know the bomber.”) Of course, it’s not as simple as all of that. And while their experiments do bring new insights, it’s hard to know whether those insights will get them any closer to finding the real perpetrator. For the sake of the many families featured throughout the podcast — who heartbreakingly reminisce about their lost loved ones — let’s hope it does. —Amy Wilkinson
Suspicion: “A Tale of Two Wills”
Raynella Leath’s first husband Ed Dossett was allegedly killed in a cow stampede, and her second husband, David Leath, ostensibly killed himself with three shots. As it turns out, Dossett was dying of cancer, and perhaps more importantly, had fathered a child with another woman; said love child was raised by one Steve Walker, whom Raynella allegedly tried to murder in 1995. David Leath, she claimed, was suffering from dementia. Is Raynella a loving wife who wanted to honor David’s wishes to protect his family from the knowledge of his decline, or was it because he had (dun, dun, dun) two wills? Depends on whom you ask! After not one, not two, but three trials, Raynella is a free woman despite the clouds of suspicion that still trail her. —Jenni Miller
Most Notorious: “WWI-Era France’s Serial Killer Henri Landru with Richard Tomlinson”
In French society, he’s as famous as Jack the Ripper or H.H. Holmes, but serial killer Henri Landru’s acclaim has taken a bit of time to cross the pond. That may change with the publication of Landru’s Secret: The Deadly Seductions of France’s Lonely Hearts Serial Killer by Richard Tomlinson. The author, whose posh British accent accounts for at least 37 percent of the appeal of this episode, explains how Landru preyed on women through newspapers’ lonely-hearts column (the Tinder of the early 1900s), and how his investigation has led him to believe that Landru was much deadlier than French police believed him to be. It’s a long episode (more than 80 minutes), but in characteristic Most Notorious fashion, it’s filled with plenty of fascinating (not to mention, incredibly well-researched) factoids and anecdotes. —Amy Wilkinson
True Crime Obsessed: “The Case of the Cannibal Cop”
Gillian Pensavalle and Patrick Hinds dig into the not-so-delicious case of Gilberto Valle, the subject of Erin Lee Carr’s 2015 documentary, Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop. To be fair, I haven’t seen Carr’s documentary — because I really don’t want or need the details of Valle’s fantasies of kidnapping, torturing, killing, and eating women lingering in my brain — but I’m hesitant to be quite as critical of Carr’s methods as the hosts are, because I respect her opinion as a filmmaker and a journalist. On the other hand, listening to Gillian and Patrick absolutely roast (pun intended) Valle and his parents is hilarious and a great release valve. Like, this dude was online-dating! And he’s trying to “make lemonade out of lemons” by capitalizing on his notoriety by writing a book about kidnapping, torture, and, one may presume, cannibalism. I try not to judge folks and their private proclivities (ask me about my thoughts on consensual cannibalism), but eff this guy into the sea! Get out the garbage bell! —Jenni Miller
This week’s reviewers: Jenni Miller and Amy Wilkinson.