Reporter Lauren Bright Pacheco and her team fail to tell listeners the truth — that Murder in Illinois never intends to present a balanced case and let them make their own minds up. Rather its narrators, witnesses, evidence and all journalistic effort is hell bent on exonerating Vaughn.
Once you know that, it’s probably easier to enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
This is a pacy tale of sex, drugs, greed, discrimination, talent, tragedy, frankly ludicrous situations and, of course, murder. It is dispatched by way of a beautifully composed, expertly scripted cacophonic narrative that unfolds with humor, but never scorn.