Crime Writers On...Serial (& More)

Crime Writers On...Serial (& More)

United States

True crime co-authors and real-life couple Kevin Flynn and Rebecca Lavoie chat with noir novelist Toby Ball and journalist-turned-investigator Lara Bricker about the blockbuster podcast 'Serial,' as well as justice, journalism, storytelling, pop culture, and the 'Crime of the Week.'


Serial Scoop? Breakdown Conviction! Undisclosed Up Close! And Missing & Murdered  

So many gifts for true crime fans this holiday season, as a new batch of podcasts are hitting the charts. Where to begin...where to begin? First, the panel drops a ton of true crime updates. These include a last-minute order keeping Brendan Dassey in prison, a verdict in Breakdown's Justin Ross Harris case, and a newspaper editorial calling for a pardon for Bowe Bergdahl. Plus, Rebecca parties-hearty with the team from Undisclosed and Addendum. The most exciting news comes from "Serial" co-creator Julie Snyder who says their team will be dropping a new seven-week podcast in March. No, it's not Serial season three, but it sounds like a compelling story nonetheless - and Rebecca's got a decent theory as to who will be telling it. Then we dive into the CBC's investigation of the Alberta Williams case, "Missing & Murdered." Set on an island fishing town off the coast of British Columbia, this podcast looks at a cold case from 1989, and the cop (and reporter) who's not afraid to name names. Bonus: Rebecca interviews host Connie Walker about making the podcast! Finally, we go all "Hidden Tiger, Crouching Dragon" in the Crime of the Week. This episode is sponsored by Sock Club. Save 15% at checkout with code "crime." We're also sponsored by Pass the Pigs by Winning Moves Games. Get 20% off at checkout with promo code "crime."

Serial Season 3 News? Sort Of. And What's Different About Up And Vanished?  

Breaking: Lara's cat has a super weird disease! For real. Some maybe-news about Serial Season 3 has us theorizing. Was Kevin super, duper wrong when he said Sarah Koenig would never do a true crime story again? Plus, we get a whole lot of listener email and tweets about what podcasts we should be listening to and talking about. One of the podcasts we’ve had pimped to us the most often lately is the hit show "Up and Vanished," an investigative podcast about the 2005 disappearance of Ocilla Georgia Beauty queen Tara Grinstead. But before we get into our discussion about Up and Vanished, we'll first listen in to Rebecca's conversation with someone who knows a little bit about that show - its host and creator Payne Lindsey. Even if you haven't heard the podcast, you should listen to this interview. And, Toby apologizes to a nation. And our Crime of the Week strikes pretty damn close to home. Episode sponsors: (use the promo code "writers" at checkout) (use the promo code "crime" at checkout)

In The Dark's Finale And Our Book, TV & Podcast Picks  

What do people want to talk about? World Series? Presidential election? Nope. The world wants to know what Lara Bricker got arrested for. (Hint: it wasn't election fraud.) Looks like her accomplices left her holding the bag...literally. In our audience feedback segment, the Crime Writers respond to a heartwarming email from a cancer survivor who's ready to take on the challenge of punching one of their least-favorite attorneys. Then, when it's time for business, the panel digs into the final episode of APM Reports' "In the Dark." Madeleine Baran didn't pull punches when it came to the police narrative that Danny Heinrich was just too good at covering his tracks for 25+ years. But is her conclusion too broad? Unfair? (Sometimes investigators know who did it, but can't get enough to make the arrest - as officials have told Rebecca & Kevin about the Stacey Burns "Mothers Day Murder" case.) Finally, Rebecca, Kevin, Lara, and Toby offer up their recommendations about what you should be listening to, reading, and watching right now. Crime of the Week: When it comes to Halloween candy, someone can give you a break - you're just not supposed to steal it. This week's sponsor is - use the code "writers" at checkout!

Adnan Syed's Bail Motion, Sarah Koenig's Serial Choices, Offshore's Big Splash  

Heads up Baltimore City Court! Here comes Adnan Syed seeking a bail hearing. It's not your usual motion, written more like a campaign speech than a legal brief. The Crime Writers dig into the latest in the efforts of Serial's protagonist to get out of prison now that his conviction has been vacated. And a journalism conundrum: IF Sarah Koenig knew about Jay Wild's post-Adnan criminal history, should she have included it in Serial? Also, the panel hangs ten in Hawaii with the new podcast, "Offshore" from Honolulu Civil Beat and PRX. Can a white reporter do justice to a tale of Hawaiian culture and disenfranchisement? Related: Toby recommends reading this article from the New Yorker, "The American Raj," to learn more about Hawaiian history. In our Crime of the Week, the panel shakes the tree. But who goes undercover as a tree, anyway? (Kevin reported on a similar bank robbery story in NH. Watch the version filed by his colleagues.) Plus: mystery solved! Who bought the family-sized bucket of massage lotion? We finally know. Finally. This week's sponsors are: (promo code "writers")

A Triple True Crime Podcast Bonanza - Phoebe's Fall, Breakdown & In The Dark  

Things get back to normal in the Crime Writers' world. They discuss the perils of doing bad accents and explain why they can't do audio book versions of their own books. A true crime update (add your own echo): Burke Ramsey has followed through on his threat to sue over the CBS special on his sister's murder. Looks like the case will focus on one comment from one person. Then the focus shifts to the new investigative podcast from Australia, "Phoebe's Fall." We know that Phoebe Handsjuk dropped 12 stories down a garbage chute, crawled out, only to bleed to death from injuries from the trash compactor. Was it a suicide attempt? Was it a drunken misadventure? Or was it something more nefarious? So far, the Crime Writers have mixed opinions. Footnote: for another strange how-did-she-get-into-that situation, check out the case of a 21-year-old Chinese tourist who drowned in a hotel water tank. Checking in with some of the other leading true crime podcasts, in "In The Dark"'s penultimate episode, the Sterns County sheriff is confronted with their pitiful clearance rate. And the trial of Justin Ross Harris is finally underway in "Breakdown." In the Crime of the Week, don't block a driveway in Australia...even if it's your own. NEXT WEEK'S HOMEWORK: From PRX, the new Offshore podcast. From Partners in Crime Media: a new mystery podcast, "The Disappearance Podcast." If you like "The Black Tapes," and "The Message," you'll want to download this one. This week's sponsor is Errata sheet: The link for Grommet in last week's show was wrong. The correct link is

Amanda Knox - The Documentary And Case That Divides Us All  

Oh no! We went there! The Crime Writers discuss the controversial Netflix doc "Amanda Knox." Why are we still intrigued by the murder case? Does any of the evidence add up? Is the motive believable? Is Knox herself credible? As she says, "Either I am a psychopath in sheep's clothing or I am you." Rebecca and Kevin welcome back Dr. Elizabeth Yardley to explain why the British have such a different (and more visceral) view of the case than Americans do. Could it be they were each seeing a different case in their papers and on their TV screens? Bigger question: how bad are the writers going to get trolled on Twitter for their views? Because it seems some people - not everyone, but some - feel really, really, REALLY strongly about this case and you better agree with them in 140 characters (or the 140 consecutive tweets with which they will flood your feed)! In Crime of the Week...a SWAT team takes out an 81-year-old woman for growing a single marijuana plant. Good thing she wasn't stealing cable TV...she'd probably be dead. Episode sponsors are : - (promo code crime) - the Havenly app (promo code crime) - and

We Stand Accused ...of Loving the Podcast 'Accused'  

Every couple of weeks, other podcast comes along and seems like the heir to "Serial." Few live up to the anticipation. Is it possible that the Cincinnati Enquirer's "Accused" podcast has replicated the secret sauce: a truly compelling murder mystery and the transparent, obsessive reporting which goes into the story? It sure is. Rebecca talks with Amber Hunt and Amanda Rossman about their year-long investigation into the 1978 Elizabeth Andes murder. If her acquitted boyfriend Bob Young didn't do it, than who did? Next, the Crime Writers dish on who was the biggest villain in the case: one of the four remaining suspects OR the prosecutor who dodged Amber for a year. (Spoiler alert: three quarters of the panel is REALLY down on Gmoser - and not just because the "G" is silent.) We get a TRUE CRIME UPDATE from Lara about the official Army findings in the Bowe Bergdahl case. Were any servicemen killed looking for Bergdahl? The answer appears to be no...but then again, we don't really know what we're talking about. Kevin sends out love to all who sponsored his Walk-a-Mile In her Shoes event; yes, he finally completed that mile-long course in high-heeled shoes. In the Crime of the Week: A bucket list wish unlike any other. Grandma, Grandma, whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Interstitial music by Uncanny Valleys. Episode sponsors are E-Salon - visit - and Prepdish - visit

That JonBenet Ramsey Special - Yup, We Went There  

The Crime Writers take on what's good - and what's *not* so good - about the The Case of JonBenet, the four-hour CBS special featuring profilers Jim Clemente and Laura Richards and an all-star cast of forensic investigators. We talk about the case, the show's WTF moments (THEY BUILT THE HOUSE??), and dive deep into the potential defamation of Burke Ramsey, who is (in the experts' opinions) a leading suspect in the cold case. We also chat with Ann Bartow, a law professor at UNH Law School and expert on all things defamation and internet speech, and tie that conversation in with issues raised in this week's episode of the excellent In The Dark podcast. Finally, our crime of the week has Rebecca airing an old grudge with her favorite public radio host, Ira Glass. Episode sponsors are the Havenly app (use promo code "crime") and Modcloth (also use promo code "crime") - and yes, we sometimes flub the ads, as you'll hear in the outtakes. Interstitial music by Blue Dot Sessions and Jahzzar. Support Kevin's walk for domestic violence victims in crisis at

In The Usual  

Now that the crime writers are all back in their closet studios after their awesome live show, they tackle the newest high-quality true crime podcast, "In the Dark." It's like "Someone Knows Something"... if someone actually knew something. Rebecca begins by talking with Madeleine Baran, APM Reports journalist and host of "In The Dark." They chat about Madeleine's year-long investigation on what went wrong during the investigation into the 1989 kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling. Even though the podcast kicked off days after Danny Heinrich confessed to killing Jacob 27 years ago, is there still a compelling story to tell? The panel ponders if a true crime podcast can still achieve excellence without the benefit of suspense. Then the Crime of the Week is not child's play. Or is it? Someone needs to go to jail, go directly to jail. Also...Kevin is again doing his part to raise money for a local crisis center. He will "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" and don some stilettos for this one-of-a-kind walk-a-thon. (Spoiler alert: he will likely twist both ankles.) If he raises enough money for his October 5 walk, Rebecca promises to stream every painful step on Facebook Live. Give a modest donation by going here:

Live From The Mall: The Crime Writers Book Club Special  

Yup, the Crime Writers went all in with a live show taping - there was even a real-life audience there to hear it! We talked about our summer book club pick, Laura Lippman's Wilde Lake. Toby also read an epic items list, we answered audience questions. A couple of notes: - Special thanks to the Hatbox Theatre in Concord, NH - Rebecca talks to author Laura Lippman from the 8:08 mark to about 21:00 - Interstitial music was by the Blue Dot Sessions - Some audience questions had to be edited out because of audio quality - Rebecca would like to apologize to her Mom. Stay tuned for the outtakes and you'll know why

New Evidence in the 'Making A Murderer' Case? And Last Call for 'The Night Of'  

We heard you missed us. But hey, we're back! After a semi-vacation over the summer, the crime writers are back weekly to talk about all things criminal - in real life and in pop culture. News on the Steven Avery case continues to break. The new lawyer for the "Making a Murderer" subject has filed a petition to have evidence re-tested using the most modern (and most expensive) analysis currently available. She says the results will definitively prove Avery's innocence (or, she concedes, his guilt). Is doubling down on the police conspiracy theory Avery's best play? Now that HBO's limited series "The Night Of" has signed off, what does the panel make of it? Did the show live up to the high expectations set by episode one? Who's the hero? What does the ending mean? And why did Stone's eczema come back? These are questions the public demands answers to. (PS: If you want to skip past the discussion to remain "unspoiled," skip from 35:47 to 58:36.) The Crime of the Week is a cream pie to the face. Who's responsible for all the creepy-looking clowns popping up in neighborhoods throughout the Carolinas? Is it a sick criminal perpetrator or just a scary joke?

Making a Murderer Brendan Dassey SHOCKER! Plus, Bergdahl Update & The Night Of Predictions  

Another episode, another questionable murder conviction vacated. The panel reacts to the news that a federal magistrate has vacated the conviction of Brendan Dassey, the accused accomplice in the Steven Avery "Making a Murderer" documentary. Although the public went nuts over what many perceived to be a coerced confession, it was something else the detectives did to the intellectually-challenged teen that violated his Sixth Amendment rights. More true crime updates: why did a General burn letters related to "Serial" season 2 subject Bowe Bergdahl? And the man accused of killing Washington intern Chandra Levy is also walking out of prison. Is Naz breaking bad in "On the Night Of"? What is the audience supposed to think of main characters in the HBO limited series at this point? In the Crime of the Week: POOPACALYPSE! P.S. Don't forget about the first Crime Writers On live podcast on September 6 at the Hatbox Theater in Concord, NH. We'll wrap up our summer book club, plus other surprises. (It's free to get in, but click here for so we can have an accurate head count!) P.P.S. What should Lara's Parrothead nickname be? If you have an idea, send us an email or email us a voice memo!

Sneak Preview - These Are Their Stories: A Law & Order Podcast  

Just for fans of our show, here's a trailer for our spinoff, in which Kevin will talk with Rebecca and a special guest about their obsession with Law & Order, and break down the true crime cases behind ripped-from-the-headlines episodes of Law & Order, SVU, and Criminal Intent

Stranger Things, Serial Update(s) & Omar on The Night Of  

Well, it took more than one try, but the Crime Writers are getting it done with a well-rehearsed discussion on Netflix's newest breakout hit, "Stranger Things." It's like Stephen King and Steven Spielberg had a baby that was eight-episodes long. (Almost) no spoilers...except that it's freakin' awesome. We also debut a brand new segment: the TRUE CRIME ROUND-UP! We've got the latest on the Adnan Syed appeal and the Bowe Bergdahl court martial. The panel's sharp eyes turn back to HBO's "The Night Of." What was a straight murder mystery is now part prison story, part crime procedural. Half way through, is it losing focus or hitting its stride. ALSO: Watch for details on the first Crime Writers On live podcast. (Click here for a sort-of RSVP!) We'll wrap up our summer book club with an audience-participation discussion on Laura Lippman's Wilde Lake. We'll be at the the Hatbox Theater in Concord, NH September 6th. FREE ADMISSION. Surprises galore!

HBO's The Night Of, DNA Shenanigans, A Serial Update & Rebecca's Big Win  

It's been more than ten days. What's the latest on whether the state will appeal Judge Welch's decision to vacate Adnan Syed's conviction? "The Night Of" is sure to be "the show of the summer." This moody, unsettling murder mystery is everything that "True Detective, Season 2" was not. The Crime Writers talk about what makes this show stand out, whether the cops are playing fair with Naz, and WTF is up with John Turturro's feet. You think juries can be swayed by faulty cell tower evidence, but how about something as sure-fire as DNA? We hear from science writer Chris Berdik about how DNA mixtures from a single sample are complicating the scientific process...and how the DNA used to convict some suspects is now being used to exonerate them. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! We'll announce which crime book you have chosen for the Crime Writers On first Summer Book Club. Use that Amazon link to buy your copy. We'll have a special interactive show to get your views and discuss our thoughts (bring your own white wine). Grab your smartphone for the Crime of the Week. People our out in the real world hunting for Pokémon and some are finding more than just Pikachus!

Serial Epilogue: Adnan Syed Gets a New Trial...Maybe  

Ever since Sarah talked to Asia the world wondered whether she was the key to getting Adnan Syed a new trial. In the end, it was a single sentence in a pile of thousands of documents. The result is in. Judge Welch has ruled Adnan's Sixth Amendment rights were violated and he'll get a new trial...if it ever gets that far. The Crime Writers pull apart the decision and discuss where the case may go from here. Does the state have any evidence left? How would 12 Baltimore jurors (who'd never listened to a podcast) size up Adnan? And why could it be years before he gets out of jail? The panel is joined by super-professor Colin Miller, who answers questions about the legal ins-and-outs of the ruling. Then the Crime Writers take your questions and voice memos. They also discuss the dilemma of the Alford plea: would you admit your guilt to a crime you didn't commit if it gets you out of prison? Also, WTF is a jury view like at the scene of a lumber theft? Here's something new: our first Crime Writers On Summer Book Club show. Each writer has nominated a book. You vote online, then we'll all read and share (bring your own white wine). The nominees are If I Did It by OJ Simpson, I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry, and Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman. In the Crime of the Week, one of our listeners makes a marital confession... #Serial #SerialSeasonOne #AdnanSyed #Undisclosed

Quick Tease: Serial Subject Adnan Syed Gets a New Trial  

Rebecca and Kevin give their quick thoughts on the breaking news of Adnan's Syed's being granted a new trial. We'll be talking about the case in our episode dropping July 9th, so we're asking you to send your questions, comments, and thoughts in an email or a voice memo to You can learn how to send a voice memo on the blog section of our website,

OJ: Made in America, Adnan Syed: Made for TV  

We've spent a lot of time with the boob tube (ahem) so far this summer. This episode, the Crime Writers take out their ear buds and tune in to some of the season's most talked about television. The Adnan Syed case finally gets the prime-time treatment on Investigation Discovery. For crime fans who can't figure out how to download a podcast, or those who only know the tale from hearing it at the water cooler, this hour-long special provides an overview of Serial's season one case. But for those who've spent hours and hours devouring minutia about the crime (I'm looking at you cell tower L689!), is there anything in this show for us? AND - Though you'd think we'd all have had enough of that former Bills running back, especially after the superior drama "The People vs OJ Simpson," ESPN's ambitious documentary may prove you can't get enough of a good thing - if it's a good thing. And "OJ: Made In America" is 450 minutes of a good thing. Race, sex, celebrity...this is why it was the Crime of the Century - and the Crime Writers dive right in. Also - did the crime writers make the same mistake with "Reply All" that the jury made with Paul Modrowski? And we're going for the gold with the Crime of the Week. #Serial #AdnanSyed #OJMadeInAmerica

Reply All Does True Crime & Shines Bright Like King Diamond  

Who thought we'd see Serial reborn in a podcast about the internet? Reply All's Sruthi Pinnamaneni brings us a four-part story about an inmate, his blog, the shifty characters associated with his crime, a flimsy evidence and nutty trial, and then - woah! - that final jailhouse interview! It's the podcast that has everyone asking, "Who the eff is King Diamond?" In this episode, we'll hear from Sruthi about what went into creating the world's latest must-listen-to podcast. Then the panel will give their two-cents on the case and whether Sruthi is the one who finally stuck the landing. There's also a correction or two. The song says "Don't you forget about me," but we might have forgotten about them. Finally, you'll be repeating the Crime of the Week over and over again. Also...can't get enough wisdom and insight from the incarcerated? Here are some blogs written by inmates, for future inmates (...if you're not careful). On the Inside - Paul Modrowski's blog, edited by his mother, that started Reply All's four-episode profile of Paul and his case. Between the Bars - a blog platform for prisoners in the US without internet access, done through MIT. Live from Lockdown - a blog written by various inmates in the federal prison system, including highly influential gang-leaders and those held in solitary confinement. Ben's Prison Blog - written by Ben Gunn, imprisoned in Sudbury (HM Prison), Derbyshire, England, 2009–2012. Since his release, Ben has continued his blog. Lastly, for those looking for deeper meaning, here's King Diamond's song, "No Presents for Christmas." Additional music this episode provided by Uncanny Valleys.

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