Hey everyone! I’m beyond excited to have Rebecca Barrow, author of Bad Things Happen Here (June 28, 2022 – Margaret K. McElderry Books), on the blog today with a guest post! First, here’s more about the book:
Luca Laine Thomas lives on a cursed island. To the outside world, Parris is an exclusive, idyllic escape accessible only to the one percent. There’s nothing idyllic about its history, though, scattered with the unsolved deaths of young women—deaths Parris society happily ignores to maintain its polished veneer. But Luca can’t ignore them. Not when the curse that took them killed her best friend, Polly, three years ago. Not when she feels the curse lingering nearby, ready to take her next.
When Luca comes home to police cars outside her house, she knows the curse has visited once again. Except this time, it came for Whitney, her sister. Luca decides to take the investigation of Whitney’s death into her own hands. But as a shocking betrayal rocks Luca’s world, the identity Whitney’s killer isn’t the only truth Luca seeks. And by the time she finds what she’s looking for, Luca will come face to face with the curse she’s been running from her whole life.
And now for the guest post, in which Rebecca discusses her favorite true crime podcasts! Enjoy!
Five True Crime Podcasts With A Conscience by Rebecca Barrow
We have always been fascinated by crime.
I do think it’s understandable— there’s something in us that drives us to look at things that scare us. I think it’s the same reason we watch horror movies, tell spooky stories at sleepovers, read terrifying novels in the dark. But there’s a difference between all those things and true crime: there’s fiction, and then there’s real life. Too often that difference is flattened, and it’s easy, looking at the way the true crime genre has exploded in recent years, to see how these real life tragedies have been turned into easily digestible entertainment. We have Renee Zellweger putting on a fat suit to play a murderer, Youtubers recounting crimes as they put on makeup or gorge themselves on fast food, and you can’t open a podcast app without being served the latest version of a let’s-drink-wine-and-tell-murder-stories show, where the hosts sloppily recount details of a crime while laughing and cheering on the police.
Podcasts may be where the biggest boom has occurred—in fact, if you look closely at many of the based-on-a-true-story TV shows emerging lately, you’ll find many of them are adapted from popular podcasts. While many of these podcasts (whether they call themselves comedy or journalism) are more interested in entertainment than ethics, there are some who create stories with an eye towards justice, providing a space for victims’ voices and focusing on exploring true events rather than crafting a salacious whodunit designed to hook listeners (and advertisers.)
With that in mind, here are five podcasts with a conscience for you to listen to:
1. In The Dark
In The Dark is an investigative podcast hosted by journalist Madeleine Baran, but rather than setting up “guilty or innocent” or “who was responsible” as their main question, the podcast takes a look at institutions and how—or why—they failed the figures at the centre of each case. Season 1 covered the 30-year-old disappearance of Jacob Wetterling and asked why police had made several wrongful arrests; season 2 questioned the racism at work that saw Curtis Flowers tried six times for the same crime.
Criminal covers all kinds of crime stories, from the lighthearted (Episode 15, “He’s Neutral”) to the harrowing (Episode 167, “48 Hours”) and everything inbetween. There are currently close to 200 episodes where host Phoebe Judge talks to victims and perpetrators, police and attorneys, historians, judges, sex workers, and so many more. I recommend Episode 138, “Starlight Tours”, about the deaths of Neil Stonechild, Lawrence Wegner, and Rodney Naistus at the hands of the Saskatoon Police Service.
3. Truer Crime
Host Celisia Stanton has a clear objective with Truer Crime: to cover cases which don’t receive a lot of attention, with a greater focus on victims, survivors, and those who have faced the justice system and lost, on both sides. After her own experience (you can hear her story in Episode 9), Stanton began the podcast to talk about “real people—murdered, missing, misled—with more nuance, more context, and more questions.” Episode 5, for example, looks at the disappearance of Relisha Rudd and what happens when every system that was meant to support a family fails to do just that.
4. Ear Hustle
Ear Hustle is hosted by artist Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods, formerly incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. The show explores life inside San Quentin and covers every topic you could imagine, including what it’s like for people who grow up with an incarcerated parent, how transgender people survive in prison, and how to get the best snacks while inside. Ear Hustle doesn’t shy away from covering heavy topics—the episode Dirty Water discusses sex trafficking and restorative justice—and strives to tell the stories of incarceration in all their forms.
5. The Secret Life of Prisons
Much like Ear Hustle, The Secret Life of Prisons looks at what it’s like to be incarcerated, but this podcast is British and focuses on the institutions in the UK. It’s hosted by Paula Harriott, who is Head of Prisoner Engagement for the Prison Reform Trust and spent time in prison herself, and Phil Maguire from the Prison Radio Association, and not only covers stories about prison life, but also features music and poetry directly inspired by those stories. The best place to start? Try Episode 1: The Arrival, in which three formerly incarcerated people discuss stepping into prison to begin their sentences.
About the Author:
Rebecca Barrow is the critically acclaimed author of Interview with the Vixen, This Is What It Feels Like, You Don’t Know Me But I Know You, and Bad Things Happen Here. She is a lover of sunshine, Old Hollywood icons, and all things high femme. She lives and writes in England.
You can find her online at her website, Rebecca-Barrow.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @RebeccaKBarrow.