I love a niche subgenre, and perhaps none more so than the podcast murder mystery. (Yes, this post is a love letter to Only Murders in the Building.) I think it’s something about the meta element of a story within a story, not to mention the number of hours I spent listening to true crime podcasts in their heyday. If you too are fascinated with this genre and its progression from Serial to the delightfully unexpected trio of Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, and Martin Short, then check out this collection of books that take the premise of podcast thriller and remix it in five new and unputdownable ways.
Only She Came Back
On July 28 at 6:30 p.m., Kiri Dunsmore walks out of the desert wearing her boyfriend’s sweatshirt, covered in his blood. Dazed and on the verge of unconsciousness, she tells a cashier that he’s still out there and most likely dead. The disappearance of Callum Massey, a “survival guru” with hundreds of thousands of YouTube followers, rocks the nation. And Kiri is a prime suspect.
Back in Kiri’s hometown, true-crime fanatic Samis completely hooked on the case—especially now that she recognizes the suspect as shy Katie from high school. Although they didn’t know each other well, that doesn’t stop Sam from reaching out to befriend her old classmate.
But when Kiri starts to confide in her, Sam realizes there’s more to the story than she had imagined. Can she keep Kiri’s secrets even though revealing them could put her where she’s always longed to be—at the center of the story?
How to Find a Missing Girl
A year ago, beloved cheerleader Stella Blackthorn vanished without a trace. Devastated, her younger sister, Iris, launched her own investigation, but all she managed to do was scare off the police’s only lead and earn a stern warning: Once she turns eighteen, more meddling means prison-level consequences.
Then, a year later, the unthinkable happens. Iris’s ex-girlfriend, Heather, goes missing, too—just after dropping the polarizing last episode of her true crime podcast all about Iris’s sister. This time, nothing will stop Iris and her amateur sleuthing agency from solving these disappearances.
But with a suspicious detective watching her every move, an enemy-turned-friend-turned-maybe-more to contend with, and only thirty days until she turns eighteen, it’s a race against the clock for Iris to solve the most dangerous case of her life.
by April Henry
Seventeen years ago, Layla Trello was murdered and her killer was never found. Enter true-crime fan Piper Gray who is determined to reopen Layla’s case and get some answers. With the help of Jonas—who has a secret of his own—Piper starts a podcast investigating Layla’s murder. But as she digs deeper into the mysteries of the past, Piper begins receiving anonymous threats telling her to back off the investigation, or else. The killer is still out there, and Piper must uncover their identity before they silence her forever.
The Headmaster’s List
by Melissa de la Cruz
When fifteen-year-old Chris Moore is tragically killed in a car crash, Argyle Prep is full of questions. Who was at the wheel? And more importantly, who was at fault?
Eighteen-year-old Spencer Sandoval wishes she knew. As rumors swirl that her ex, Ethan, was the driver that fateful night, she can’t bring herself to defend him. And their messy breakup has nothing to do with it – she can’t remember anything from that night, not even what put her in that car with Ethan, Chris, and Tabby Hill, the new loner in school. Was it just a night out that went very wrong? And is it just a coincidence they were all part of Argyle’s esteemed honor roll, the Headmaster’s List? In a place ruled by pedigree and privilege, the answers can only come at a deadly price.
I Hope You’re Listening
by Tom Ryan
In her small town, seventeen-year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago, she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again. At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way. When another little girl goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers, with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much is she willing to reveal about herself in order to uncover the truth? Dee’s about to find out what’s really at stake in unraveling the mystery of the little girls who vanished.