Algorithm: Can math help solve serial killings?

THREE STARS

The prospect of using pattern-matching algorithms for detection is already part of public conversation, but mostly in the negative sense. Kuebrich makes a good case for how more sophisticated methods could help clear unsolved cases, which tend to disproportionately effect black communities. He also manages to shed some important light on the issue of untested rape kits.

Murdaugh Murders: Suspicion and intrigue in South Carolina

THREE STARS

Of course, the Mudaugh case is fascinating to begin with, but what Matney brings to the table is expert knowledge — both of the case itself and also of good storytelling. She busts myths, introduces new and important details, carefully constructs and deconstructs scenarios and, critically, she’s does a brilliant job of familiarizing her listeners with the local politics and hierarchies of her part of South Carolina.

I Am Rama: Unconventional guru tale that lacks punch

TWO STARS

It’s important to remember something that seems to be overlooked here: a listener comes to any story about a New Age leader with a very healthy skepticism. They don’t expect to emerge as a convert. We want and expect to have our assumptions pummelled but, aside from a few tales of well-executed business plans, the building up of Lenz isn’t sufficient enough to make the taking down particularly satisfying.

No Place Like Home: A charming but unsatisfying tale for Garland lovers

THREE STARS

Have you either spent time daydreaming about Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz? Did you wonder where they are now, who owns them, and how you might one day get to see them up close and in person? No, me either. And yet No Place Like Home does an excellent job of convincing it’s listeners that they’re the most coveted and admired artifact on earth.

Chameleon: High Rollers: BS and bravado in Sin City

FOUR STARS

If this podcast was turned into a movie, it would be a funny one; hapless bozos would abound launching get-rich-quick schemes and making ham-fisted attempts at money laundering. Yet, in reality, this is a shocking tale of mostly well-meaning idiots who get framed-up by the authorities as a dangerous criminal gang.

Unraveled: The Stalker’s Web: A dark tale of pursuit and resilience

FIVE STARS

Co-hosts Alexis Linkletter and Bill Jenson do an excellent job of giving this story shape and texture. They help frame the stories of the women involved without snatching them and running away. The pacing is perfect and, though the podcast is comparatively short, the tale is told exhaustively and the listener is easily able to get a sense of just how prolific this madman was.

Camp Hell Anneewakee: A raw tale of torture dressed as treatment

FOUR STARS

This astonishing 12-parter examines the horrific multi-decade abuse and corruption that took place at The Anneewakee Treatment Center for Emotionally Disturbed Youth in Douglasville, Georgia. It is impossible to ignore the power of such a devastating podcast — both in terms of catharsis for the many ex-pupils who testify on the record, and as a restatement of the lessons society should have learned, including the methods and motives of predators, so that such an abhorrence never occurs again.

The Lazurus Heist: An eye-opening look at international cybercrime

THREE STARS

Fake weddings, billion dollar transfers, an army of high rolling money-launderers…if you collect fun stories, then this is a veritable gold mine. At the same time, this is tempered by some shocking realities about North Korean “cyber slaves”, and the kinds of life-threatening jeopardy well co-ordinated hacks can create.

The Trials of Frank Carson: Goliath vs. Goliath

TWO STARS

Trial podcasts are tricky. To convey some kind of absolute truth sans partiality — to reflect opposing sides of the same story absolutely equally — is an unreasonable bar, and so consequently even the best ones can sound somewhat biased. But in this case, it really is hard not to feel like we’re only being told select details about the story due to the host’s barely concealed support for the protagonist, showman attorney Frank Carson.