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It's unclear why this disembodied hand is peaking from sand. Perhaps a podcast holds the answers?

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Summer means traveling—a period when we break away from our routines and perhaps try something new. Even so, travel also means waiting in line and enduring those short bursts of boredom when you might actually have to spend time alone with your thoughts. Solution: Podcasts.

If you’re looking to pass the time on a road trip or a flight, ditch the screen, turn up the volume and listen to the perfect on-the-go entertainment. And, since there are so many choices these days, here are Houstonia's picks for podcasts to kill time this summer. The genre? True crime, naturally.

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If you need a laugh: My Favorite Murder

To be clear, murder isn’t funny, but the hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark’s commentary and random banter will have you laughing out loud in a way you never thought possible within this genre. And these two didn’t just create an insanely popular podcast, they’ve also fostered an incredible community of fans who call themselves “murderinos” and interact through social media, particularly a Facebook group with tens of thousands of members (and growing). Houston has its own local murderino group, although its 500ish members seems modest by comparison. 

Where to Start: Try out Episode 33, which features a Houston-based crime, and Episode 18, which recounts the unbelievable survival story of Mary Vincent.

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If you’re an armchair detective: Up and Vanished

Host Payne Lindsey, a documentarian turned first-time podcaster, wanted answers to the mysterious disappearance of Tara Grinstead, a teacher and beauty queen in rural Georgia whose case went unsolved for over 11 years. While the case (and podcast) is intriguing in its own right, Up and Vanished became infinitely more addicting once Tara’s case was recently blown wide open. Without giving too much away, an arrest has been made and an accomplice has been identified in the crime. The case is now unfolding in real time as Payne and the community of Up and Vanished fans continue to dig for the truth, leaving everyone hungry for more.

Where to Start: Begin with the first episode, but if you’re anxious to get up to date, feel free to skip the Q&A and bonus episodes.

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If you crave variety: The Last Podcast on the Left

Hosts Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski cover everything from cults to serial killers to aliens—pretty much anything that could possibly be considered strange or taboo. Each episode is incredibly well-researched, but presented with such energy and hilarity that you’ll feel like you’re amongst friends—that is, friends who are willing to explore subjects not typically well-received at parties. This podcast’s “heavy hitter series,” which features several different serial killers, is of particular interest to true crime fans.

Where to Start: For some local horror, check out Episodes 210 – 213 on Dean Corll, AKA “The Candy Man.” Other favorites include H.H. Holmes (Episodes 200 – 202), Aum Shinrikyo (Episodes 218 – 221) and Jeffrey Dahmer (Episodes 122 – 124).

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If you’ve been living under a rock: Serial

If you’ve ever listened to a podcast, you’ve probably listened to Serial. It’s easily the most well-known and beloved true crime podcasts out there. Host Sarah Koenig skillfully investigates the story of Adnan Syed, who was charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, in 1999 when the two were in high school. The podcast features Sarah’s narrative intertwined with personal interviews of several major players in this case, including Adnan. He was given a life sentence and remains in prison, but was Adnan really the killer? Sarah lays out the case, but it’s up to you to decide.

Where to Start: Season 1, Episode 1. Enjoy your new addiction.

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If you’re having Serial withdrawal: Someone Knows Something

It’s almost unfair to compare anything to Serial, but if you’re looking for an investigative podcast in a similar style (plus Canadian accents), Someone Knows Something—particularly Season 2—should be right up your alley. In Season 2, host David Ridgen explores Sheryl Sheppard’s story, who disappeared in 1998 only two days after her boyfriend, Michael Lavoie, proposed to her on live TV. David works alongside Sheryl’s family, friends, coworkers and even a forensic psychologist to work through the narrative of her complicated life—and to develop theories on what could have happened.

Where to Start: Season 2, Episode 1.

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