Crime Writers On...True Crime Review-logo

Crime Writers On...True Crime Review


The original true crime review podcast that looks at other podcasts, TV, and pop culture. True crime authors and real-life couple Rebecca Lavoie and Kevin Flynn hold a pop-culture round table with noir novelist Toby Ball and journalist-turned-investigator Lara Bricker. The panel chats about other podcasts (including 'Serial') as well as journalism, storytelling, TV shows and films, and the special segment, 'Crime of the Week.'Show website: Follow the show on Twitter @crimewriterson. Find us on Facebook Email the show at by Benjamin Frisch


United States


The original true crime review podcast that looks at other podcasts, TV, and pop culture. True crime authors and real-life couple Rebecca Lavoie and Kevin Flynn hold a pop-culture round table with noir novelist Toby Ball and journalist-turned-investigator Lara Bricker. The panel chats about other podcasts (including 'Serial') as well as journalism, storytelling, TV shows and films, and the special segment, 'Crime of the Week.'Show website: Follow the show on Twitter @crimewriterson. Find us on Facebook Email the show at by Benjamin Frisch




Dear Alana,

In 2019, Boulder, Colorado residents were shocked by the death by suicide of 24-year-old Alana Chen. The woman who once dreamed of being a nun had struggled with her sexual identity and was left scarred by conversion therapy. The reports intrigued Simon Kent Fung, who interviewed her mother and friends to learn more about Alana’s story. Exploring her inner life through the journals she left behind, Alana’s journey made Simon reflect on the parallels of his own struggles to reconcile his faith with his efforts to change his hidden sexuality. “Dear Alana,” from Tenderfoot TV, Aslept Audio, and the Center for Independent Documentary, traces the life of a young woman looking for acceptance in the Church by denying the truest part of herself. It’s also Simon’s self-study on the price he and Alana paid to balance the love of God with the love for themselves. OUR SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS OF "DEAR ALANA," BEGIN IN THE FINAL 11 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE.


BS High

America was introduced to Ohio’s Bishop Sycamore High School during a nationally televised football game. When they lost 58-0, people first questioned how a team so clearly bad made it on to ESPN. But there was a bigger twist: the high school they played for didn’t exist! Coach Ray Johnson had dreamed up Bishop Sycamore just so he could put together a football team. Along the way, he flouted safety rules and sporting codes, while taking financial advantage of the players, creditors, and the government. The HBO Originals documentary “BS High” tells the story of the scam around a fake school and its gridiron team, as well as the conman-turned-coach. We hear from officials who tried to sound the alarm on the scheme and from the many Black, impoverished players who were led astray. It also explains why, despite the evidence, there’s nothing officials can do about a fictitious football team. OUR SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS OF "BS HIGH" BEGIN IN THE FINAL 10 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE. In Crime of the Week: The Big Sleep.


The Girlfriends

In the 1990s, Carole Fisher started dating Doctor Bob Bierenbaum, but she broke it off with the charming physician after seeing his dark side. Carole created a kind of support group among Bob’s ex-girlfriends and talk soon turned to a strange part of his past: the doctor’s first wife disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Gail Katz vanished from New York City in 1985, around the time she told friends she was going to leave Bob. The case stayed cold for years, until detectives turned to Carole and her friends for help. The podcast “The Girlfriends” from Novel and iHeartMedia describes the sisterhood formed among Bob’s suspicious former lovers and how investigators used their knowledge to get an arrest. The women also meditate on their relationship with each other and the murder victim they never knew. OUR SPOILER-FREE EPISODES OF "THE GIRLFRIENDS" BEGIN IN THE FINAL 11 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE.



Teenager Sam Lipman-Stern started videotaping his eccentric co-workers at a chaotic New Jersey call center which raised money for police organizations. When his friend Pat Pespas discovered Civil Development Group was keeping most of the donations, the pair hoped to expose the fraud. Though the feds took down CDG, Sam and Pat wondered why the police organizations were never held accountable for their role in the scheme. A decade later, the pair resumed their investigation, only to meet resistance at every turn. The HBO Originals “Telemarketers” follows the ne'er-do-wells’ quixotic attempts to shake up a billion-dollar industry. It also shows Sam and Pat’s unconventional friendship from their wild days in the boiler room to their earnest demands for answers from police and politicians alike. OUR SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS OF "TELEMARKETERS" BEGIN IN THE FINAL 11 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE. In Crime of the Week: wigged out!


CWO Classic: Wild Wild Country

A cult takes over an Oregon town, then resorts to violence to keep their community…built on love. We'll return to our March 28, 2018 review of Netflix's "Wild Wild Country."


Fiasco: Vigilante

In 1984, a man shot four Black teens who approached him in a subway car, then vanished into the station. Reflecting New Yorkers’ growing anxiety about crime, the shooter was hailed by residents and the media as “The Subway Vigilante.” The unknown suspect was Bernie Goetz, who told investigators his unrelenting fear of city life fueled his actions. But as a more accurate portrait of the events emerged, a heated debate began whether his use of force was appropriate. And the case became a Rorschach test on crime, race, and justice that continues to resonate. Exclusively on Audible and slated soon for full release, “Fiasco: Vigilante” is the latest installment in the series by host Leon Neyfakh. It features interviews with witnesses, reporters, lawyers, and victims’ family members all touched by the infamous Bernie Goetz case. It also recounts the external factors that shaped public attitudes about the shooting that turned Goetz from populous hero to a cautionary tale of violent paranoia. OUR SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS OF "FIASCO: VIGILANTE" BEGIN IN THE FINAL 14 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE. In Crime of the Week: graduation part-ly. To support our teachers by purchasing an item from their wish lists, go to this post


CWO Classic: Abducted in Plain Sight

How did a man get away with kidnapping his neighbors’ daughter not once - but twice? We'll revisit our January 28, 2019 review of the unforgettable true crime documentary "Abducted in Plain Sight."


Demons & Saviors

Teenager Tina Resch made news in the 1980s with stories of supernatural disturbances in her Ohio home. The so-called “Poltergeist Girl” was the focus of academics who wanted to research her powers and skeptics who believed the whole thing was an act. As an adult now going by Christina Boyer, the young mother returned from work to find her three year old Amber fatally injured while in the care of her boyfriend. Though she maintained her innocence, Boyer accepted a life plea to avoid the death penalty. After three decades in prison, a group of Georgetown students dug into Boyer’s case, looking to expose a miscarriage of justice. Despite questions about the evidence used to convict her, officials remained unshaken the mother is deceptive and guilty of murder. The Hulu series “Demons & Saviors” from ABC News Studios digs into Boyer’s paranormal origin story, the circumstances around Amber’s death, and the effort to win her release. What role did her supernatural fame play in her prosecution? And can she find justice when authorities feel in the absence of solid evidence, she’s still criminally responsible just because the victim was her child? OUR SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS OF "DEMONS & SAVIORS" BEGIN IN THE FINAL 13 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE. In Crime of the Week: a series of unfortunate events.


CWO Classic: Accused season 2

On this CWO Classic, we revisit our October 20, 2017 split-decision review of Accused season 2.



After Susan Woods’s killer died from cancer, his diary about the 1987 case was discovered. The 30 year old woman was murdered in her Stephenville, Texas home. Family and friends were convinced the killer was her estranged husband, Michael. Had Stephenville police taken the story of a teenage rape victim more seriously, they might have spotted a big clue to the killer’s identity. But it would take decades and advances in technology to finally solve the cold case. “Stephenville” from Texas Monthly revisits the Woods case. Host Bryan Burrough sheds light on the effects of the crime on a small town and how it did wrong by the outsiders caught up in the case. He also explores the mind of a murderer through his own writings. OUR SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS OF "STEPHENVILLE" BEGIN IN THE FINAL 11 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE. In Crime of the Week: smell ya later.


CWO Classic: Catch and Kill

On this CWO Classic, we revisit the panel's December 16, 2019 review of Ronan Farrow's "Catch and Kill."


Last Call

In 1992, authorities were slow to make connections between separate murders. A pair of affluent, but closeted men disappeared after leaving New York City gay bars, their dismembered bodies later discovered in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. As more men were killed, gay activists tried to sound the alarm that someone was stalking club-goers. But New York police were indifferent to the crimes and hostile to the queer community. The culprit known as The Last Call Killer escaped detection for a decade until new technology gave detectives the clues to his identity. The HBO Original series “Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York” recounts the crime spree that shook the community. Based on the Edgar-winning book by Elon Greene, the series also dives into the lives of the victims, the challenges for investigators, and the cultural issues of the day. OUR SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS OF "LAST CALL" BEGIN IN THE FINAL 10 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE. In Crime of the Week: crash course.


CWO Classic: Missing Richard Simmons

On this CWO Classic, we revisit our February 24, 2017 review of "Missing Richard Simmons," the first of six episodes dedicated to the groundbreaking podcast series. The panel heralded the arrival of Dan Taberski as a fresh, new voice in the industry.


Where is Baby Gabriel?

No one has seen Gabriel Johnson since 2009, when his mother took the eight month old from her home in Arizona to Texas. In the middle of a custody dispute with her ex, Elizabeth Johnson told him she smothered the baby and threw his body in the garbage. When she returned home, Elizabeth had a different story. She said she gave Gabriel up in a black market adoption in San Antonio - a transaction facilitated by a couple who’d been trying to adopt the child themselves. The Peacock series “Where is Baby Gabriel?” explores the theories around the child’s disappearance? Was he murdered? Is he living with a new family? And what role did interloper Tammi Smith play in his fate? OUR SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS OF "WHERE IS BABY GABRIEL" BEGIN IN THE FINAL 9 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE. In Crime of the Week: Ghosted.


CWO Classic: Beware the Slenderman

On this CWO Classic, we revisit of February 3, 2017 review of the scary, provocative HBO documentary, "Beware the Slenderman." It looks at the case of two young girls who stabbed their friend to appease a modern-day internet boogeyman. The panel is split but agrees on one thing: don't watch this one in the dark.


The Retrievals

Patients at a Yale fertility clinic complained of severe pain during common egg retrieval procedures. Despite nurses’ insistence they’ve received the maximum dosage of fentanyl, the women continued to suffer, unaware they were actually receiving a simple saline solution. After a tampered vial was discovered, authorities arrested an addicted nurse who’d been swapping out the opioid. But the many patients had more questions. Why were their complaints ignored? Could the clinic have done more? And how are these victims who want a family supposed to feel about the legal accommodations made for a defendant with children of her own? From Serial Productions comes “The Retrievals.” Host Susan Burton tells the story of the patients whose pain was ignored, the nurse who stole their medicine and watched them suffer, and the institution that failed them all. OUR SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS OF "THE RETRIEVALS" BEGIN IN THE FINAL 12 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE. This episode was recorded in front of an online Patreon audience. Join us for other benefits at In Crime of the Week: do not taste this rainbow.


CWO Classic: Crimetown

On this CWO Classic, we look back at our December 9, 2016 review of "Crimetown." Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier take us to Providence, Rhode Island, a city where organized crime corrupted every aspect of public life.


Suspect: Five Shots in the Dark

Leon Benson says he’s innocent of the 1998 murder of Kasey Schoen, who was shot in his truck in Indianapolis. Despite his alibi, no motive, and a lack of physical evidence, Leon was convicted based on a cross-racial identification from 150 feet at night. Attorney Lara Bazelon looks for clues to winning Leon’s exoneration. Was evidence about alternative suspects withheld? And should Bazelon’s team approach the man they believe actually pulled the trigger? “Suspect: Five Shots in the Dark” is season three of the acclaimed series from Campside Media and Wondery. In a break of format, host Matthew Shaer works with Bazelon in a side-by-side effort to clear Leon’s name. Will the one-two punch of lawyers and podcasters get him out of prison? And what does correcting this wrong mean for Schoen’s family? OUR SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS OF "SUSPECT: FIVE SHOTS IN THE DARK" BEGIN IN THE FINAL 11 MINUTES OF THE EPISODE. In Crime of the Week: Chinese food take down.


CWO Classic: Lost Girls

Fresh off the news of an arrest in the Long Island serial killer case, we go back to March 23, 2020 for the panel's review of Netflix's film adaptation of "Lost Girls" staring Amy Ryan. Does this two-hour dramatization of Bob Kolker's excellent book live up to the expansive source material?


Dark Valley

In 1988, twenty-two year old Jane Boroski was attacked at a soda vending machine. The seven-month-pregnant New Hampshire woman was stabbed 27 times and left for dead. Boroski is believed to be the last victim and only survivor of the Connecticut River Valley Killer, a suspect who murdered at least seven women between 1978 and ‘88. Decades later, the question remains why did he kill and where did he go? In the podcast “Dark Valley'' from Crawlspace Media and Glassbox Media, Jennifer Amell looks back at the murders along the Vermont/New Hampshire corridor. The host accompanies Jane as she reexamines the lasting impact of the attack on her life, all the while seeking new information on who the Valley Killer - or Valley Killers - were. OUR SPOILER-FREE REVIEWS OF "DARK VALLEY" BEGIN IN THE FINAL TEN MINUTES OF THE EPISODE. In Crime of the Week: cowabunga!