It’s been a good year for detective junkies. In March we had S-Town, a gripping podcast which transformed from murder mystery to emotional character study. Next was Casting JonBenet, Netflix’s fascinating doc about the death of a six year-old beauty queen. In June, Beyond Reasonable Doubt? dropped on BBC Radio 5 Live. Dubbed the UK’s answer to Serial, it stood out because of its weird fan theories and back-to-front-narrative.
Now a new series is looking to take the true crime crown. Dirty John, hosted and written by LA Times reporter Chris Goffard, hit the Internet last week and it’s already got Twitter in a tizz.
Here’s all the information you need to get in on the best true crime podcast since Serial.
What you need to know
When Deborah Newell, a wealthy 50-something interior designer, met John Meehan on a dating site he seemed like a total catch. He was handsome, a freelance anaesthesiologist and treated her like a queen. They were married within four months. But as their relationship progressed, it soon became clear that this knight in shining armour was not who he said he was. Dirty John recounts, in captivating fashion, Deborah and her family’s growing horror as they discover the violent and sinister truth this man tried to hide from everybody.
Why it’s so good
This utterly compelling story is a complex web of love, lies and intimidation. Just when it seems John’s actions can’t get any crueler, another revelation lowers him yet further in our eyes. He is a completely heinous man with seemingly no good traits. Which, of course, is why he is such an interesting character study. Forgotten by his parents, helpless to his drug addictions and mired in self-loathing, this is a man who believes society owes him everything for nothing in return. Just like excellent recent series S-Town, Dirty John is not a simple murder mystery. While there are elements of violence, most of its runtime is spent exploring what crimes John might have committed and why. Try and listen without bingeing the whole thing. We bet you can’t.
Where you can listen
Dirty John is a six-part series by LA Times and Wondery. All the episode are available for free on most online podcast stores including Apple’s Podcasts app. To listen on desktop go to the LA Times website.