Stop! If you listen to 10 podcast episodes a week you shouldn’t be here. You’re an expert. You should be here.
What is it about murder mysteries that for the past hundred years has kept us and our ancestors riveted and coming back for more? Over the last century, we’ve gone from Edgar Allan Poe to Agatha Christie to the new stable of mystery podcast hosts who’ve further evolved the art of telling seductive crime mysteries and, in the process, have turned it into a worldwide obsession.
In the pursuit of fulfilling the WhatPods’ mission to help others find great podcasts, we’ve found, listened to, and ranked in order the 18 best currently available mystery podcasts.
We’ve focused on multi-part series for this list, where the host tells the story at the heart of their mystery podcast over the course of multiple, connected episodes. If you love crime but prefer something different to what we cover in this list, click here for all our best crime podcasts lists.
Empty Frames presents the story of one of the greatest art heist mysteries in modern history. Presenters Tim Pilleri and Lance Reenstierna uncover the theories behind who stole 13 pieces of artwork that had a combined estimated value of $500 million, from the Isabella Stewart Garner Museum in Boston in March, 1990. With the first episode released on 6 February 2018, Empty Frames is an intriguing mash-up of the true crime and society and culture genres that is worth a listen. While the first episode is presented as though listeners have some assumed knowledge of the theft, don’t let this dissuade you – the second episode lays the groundwork for what is shaping up to be a thoroughly researched and fascinating pod.
This short and punchy series (the entire series can be knocked over in under an hour) looks into the disappearance and murder of Vishal Mehrotra from a London street on the day of the Royal Wedding in 1981. His body was found nine months later and there are still no answers to who kidnapped and murdered him. Vishal’s father is convinced that Vishal was the victim of a paedophile ring that had the protection of the police. The presenter, Tom Swarbrick investigates this explosive claim and tries to answer the question that has been torturing his family and those investigating the crime for decades: What Happened To Vishal?
The beauty of this raw and gritty podcast is that it is presented by a straight-up private investigator who is interested in the evidence and where it leads, rather than expressing his personal views about the case or the people involved. While presented in a non-traditional format by presenting ‘investigation’ episodes separately to ‘evidentiary’ episodes, Gone at 21 just works.
Through investigating the unsolved murder of Maria James a young mother who was found dead in the bookshop she owned in Melbourne, Australia, Trace gives voice to James’ two sons Mark and Adam who have been left with the unanswered question of what happened to their mum, more than 37 years ago. Presenter, Rachel Brown of the ABC, does well to uncover new leads but be prepared, the pod ends abruptly without a resolution or the traditional summation episode that fans of this genre may be accustomed to.
In October 2005, Tara Grinstead, a 30 year old high school teacher disappeared after leaving a friend’s BBQ. Since her disappearance was reported, there has never been a confirmed sighting of Tara and no persons of interest were identified until February 2017. In Up and Vanished, the audio, particularly the interviews, can be difficult to hear but the presenter, Payne Lindsay circles back and ensures that the listener catches pertinent details. Getting a fresh take on Grinstead’s disappearance was always going to be tough given the level of press coverage the case has received. But Lindsay achieves it by seeking to crack the tough veneer of small town Ocilla, Georgia and speaking directly to those involved rather than focusing on old case files.
If you have been working your way through this ultimate mystery podcast list it’s probably time to get some perspective. Missing will provide you with just that. Crime author, Tim Weaver provides some comfort to listeners by addressing what missing persons stats (albeit in the UK) actually are and looks at missing persons cases from the perspective of people who aim to disappear. Essentially, 250,000 people are reported missing each year in the UK and 97% of those are found within a week. It is only approximately 1% or, 2,500 people who remain missing after a year. Central to the pod’s premise is the fact that it is not a crime to go missing and that some people in that 1% have actually achieved what they set out to. Throughout the 11 episode series, Weaver gathers information on how that 1% of people remain missing and culminates in him putting the information that he has learnt to the test by attempting to go missing without leaving a trace.
This pod investigates the dramatic cold case of the Black Dahlia Serial Killer thought to be responsible for the brutal murder of more than a dozen women in Los Angeles in the late 1940s. The show launches with the investigation into the murder of Elizabeth Short whose severed body was found in January 1947. In Hollywood & Crime, host Tracy Pattin takes listeners beneath glistening Hollywood glamour, into Los Angeles’ dirty underbelly where this serial killer lurked. If you’re after a mystery pod to sink your teeth into, this is it – with 26, 40-ish minute episodes, it will be sure to quench your thirst.
All podcasts that are dedicated to publicising missing persons cases fulfil an important public service. But the Thin Air Podcast goes well beyond that. Each well-researched episode is dedicated to a single missing persons case that hosts, Daniel Calderon and Jordan Sims present with equal measures of inquisitiveness and empathy. Every episode is punctuated by interviews with loved ones of the missing, who continue to await their return.
Connie Walker and her team have returned for season 2 of Missing & Murdered with the tragic tale of Cleo Nictone Semaganis. Cleo, a young Cree girl was apprehended by Saskatchewan child welfare officers in the 1970s and, her family believes, was raped and murdered while she was attempting to hitchhike from her foster family in the United States back to Canada. With only a single photo of Cleo as proof of her existence, Missing & Murders: Finding Cleo seeks to discover what really happened to Cleo and ascertain where her remains are located. With episode one released on 14 March 2018, now is the perfect time to start listening.
Crazy theories abound in this epic podcast series, Missing Maura Murray. It all starts with the disappearance of 22 year old Maura Murray from a single vehicle traffic accident in New Hampshire. Only about 10 minutes after the accident, when police arrived at the scene on 9 February 2004, Maura is nowhere to be found. She has never been seen since.
Was Phoebe Hansjuk’s death a “tragic accident” as the coroner ruled? Or, was she murdered? On 2 December 2010, Phoebe’s battered body was discovered at the bottom of a garbage chute in a luxury apartment building in Melbourne, Australia where she resided with her boyfriend, Atony Hampel. Hansjuk survived the 40 meter fall but bled out after her foot was severed by the blades meant for compacting garbage. Phoebe’s Fall, the six-part series presented by The Age newspaper, questions key findings made by the Coroner including how Hansjuk could have got into the garbage chute without assistance. Listener’s will be left with a desire to see justice done in a case that has more questions than answers.
Gone is a podcast about things going (and staying) missing. In each 45-ish minute weekly episode, Gone investigates cases of missing people, objects and even entire civilisations. So far, Gone has gone in search of D.B Cooper, the Amber Room and Oliver Cromwell’s head.
If you like the crime genre podcasts but are a little over things being left unresolved, subscribe to Cold Case Files: The Podcast immediately. Each episode tells the story of a brutal murder that becomes a cold case BUT, is ultimately solved after, in most cases, decades. While the outcome for the victim is never good, the host, Brooke Gittings, tells the story of the crime from start to finish including how the crime went down, why it went unsolved for so long and, what ultimately led to the killer’s identity being discovered. This podcast is bound to reinvigorate your love for the mystery podcast genre.
Three indigenous children, all living on the same street in the small Australian town of Bowraville were killed within a five month period. Jay Hart was charged and stood trial for two of the murders but was acquitted on each occasion. In Bowraville, Dan Box, a crime reporter from The Australian investigates the crimes and confronts the tormented history of race relations between Australia’s legal system, law enforcement and the media and Australia’s first peoples. A must-listen mystery pod.
Bigger than a podcast. Death in Ice Valley investigates the unsolved mystery of who the Isdal Woman was and how she died. Here are the basic facts: in November 1970 two girls find a woman’s body in the Isdalen Valley in remote Norway; surrounding the deceased were a number of scorched items (paper, water bottles etc.); no one has ever claimed the body; the circumstances of her death remain completely unknown as does her identity. With that set up, Death in Ice Valley doesn’t hide from falling into the traditional mystery pod genre but the podcast isn’t the end game for investigative journalist, Marit Higraff and British BBC documentary maker, Neil McCarthy. Death in Ice Valley is not the project, the real project is solving the mystery and the podcast is one of the tools investigators have deployed to help them to do so. Download and discover if you can help solve it.
Unexplained is back with a new season and it has rewarded listeners yet again by being oh so British and oh so mysterious! Released on 20 March 2018, season 3 of Unexplained analyses the mysterious death of Jack Parsons, one of the scientists that established NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that was responsible for developing the rocket fuel that enabled humans to reach the moon. The episodes that have been releases so far indicate that season 3 is set to deliver the high standard of mystery podcasting that Unexplained is renowned for.
In 1979, the body of a teenage girl was discovered on an upstate New York cornfield. Finding Tammy Jo reports on the investigation into who she was and who murdered her. This short and sharp podcast explores the unbelievable story of how websleuths identified her as Tammy Jo Alexander in 2015 and how far the investigation into her murder has progressed.
The fourth season of Someone Knows Something dropped on 6 February 2018 and it was well worth the wait. This season, David Ridgen investigates the heart wrenching unsolved murder of Wayne Greavette who was killed after opening a letter bomb addressed to him, in 1996. In episode one, listeners are introduced to the Greavette family who, with the help of Ridgen, have come together to try to solve this tragic mystery.