Podcast review: What Page Are You On? Contemporary True Crime

The second episode of What Page Are You On? was on contemporary true crime – or the darkness of the human spirit, as they put it – and started with a warning. Will you get upset by stories of rape, abuse and murder? If you think you will, don’t listen. I thought it was a nice touch.

My review is not going to include any gruesome details though so, if you are a little bit curious, keep on reading!

Bethany and Alice, the hosts of this podcast, ask big questions – How far back in someone’s life can you trace evil? Can you do anything to stop it? – and proceed to discuss the merits and the faults of books they have read, like Alexandria Marzano-Lenevich’s The Fact of a Body and Emmanuel Carrère’s The Adversary.

Apart from finding their observations interesting, what I enjoy most of this podcast in general is the synergy between the two women. You can tell they’re friends and – most of all – you can tell that they’re passionate about books!

They might not get to answer those initial big questions in the course of the episode but what clearly surfaces is that books are definitely not the source of evil. Not even crime or true crime books.

Whether we should feel guilty in the enjoyment of this genre seems however to be a grey area. As they point out, while memoirs are written by the people whose story it is to tell, ethical matters come into play when it is journalists writing about events they were not involved in and that will cause them to profit from other people’s pain. What do you think?

Personally, I think that it depends on the level of respect shown by the journalist in question and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is a great example of how it should be done.

Briefly touched upon are also fiction books based on true crimes, like See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt, Little Deaths by Emma Flint and The Girls by Emma Cline. With such a list, you can’t say that women are missing from this genre!

What did I take away from this episode, which - by the way - you can listen to by clicking here? An unexpected long list of books that I’d like to read. Considering that I am of an impressionable disposition and I tend to stay clear of true crime, this is quite a feat. In fact, I think the last true crime book I read was The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule in the late 1990s.

What about you? Do you read true crime? Any recommendations? Feel free to add your comments below or head over to Twitter.

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