The Best Mystery Podcasts of 2023

Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes for these podcasts

Are you fascinated by the unknown, the unknowable, or the unbelievable? Considering the number of true crime podcasts and murder-mystery shows on the internet, many people are. Here are the best mystery podcasts you should listen to.

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Best Heist Mystery Podcast: Empty Frames

Empty Frames home page
What We Like
  • The hosts are truly committed.

  • Thorough investigative reporting.

What We Don't Like
  • The entire show is about a single topic.

  • No longer making new episodes.

On March 18, 1990, two men in police uniforms visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and left with 13 paintings worth a total of $500 million. What happened after that? Hosts Tim Pilleri and Lance Reenstierna examine the facts, theories, and historical significance behind America's greatest unsolved heist. 

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Serial podcast home page
What We Like
  • Stellar storytelling and reporting.

  • Multiple seasons and stories.

What We Don't Like
  • Fairly limited in topics.

  • No new episodes.

If you're reading this list, there's a good chance you've already heard of Serial. From the creators of This American Life, this Peabody Award-winning podcast sat atop the iTunes charts for several months. Although the first two seasons each focused on a single true crime story, the third season covers multiple crimes that have taken place in Cleveland, Ohio. The creators also have a second show, The Improvement Association, in case you want more after you finish this one.

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Best Cold Case Podcast: Unsolved Murders

Unsolved Murders podcast home page
What We Like
  • Emotionally impactful.

  • Extraordinary cast.

  • Referrals to other great shows.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires a hefty time investment.

  • Only available on Spotify.

Unsolved Murders boasts high production values and the unparalleled talents of Carter Roy, Wenndy Mackenzie, and a cast of other voice actors. Episodes offer dramatic reenactments of cold cases such as the Axeman of New Orleans and the mysterious death of musician Bobby Fuller.

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Best Missing Persons Mystery Podcast: Unfound

Unfound podcast home page
What We Like
  • Has helped solve cases.

What We Don't Like
  • Be ready for some heavy content.

Unfound features interviews with friends and family members of individuals who have gone missing under mysterious circumstances. The hosts engage in real investigative journalism to develop new theories and leads in cold cases.

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Most Spine Tingling Mystery Podcast: Mirrors

The Mirrors podcast cover art

The Wellcome Library

What We Like
  • You can read transcripts for each episode.

  • Provides another story for people who loved "Spines."

  • Interesting combination of genres.

What We Don't Like
  • Only 24 episodes.

Writer Jamie Killen created something special with Spines, a limited-series radio drama about an amnesiac uncovering a deep mystery involving a mysterious cult, superpowers, and a very nice frog. Mirrors is Killen's follow-up, which tells a new story about three women facing the same menacing creatures in different centuries. Just like Spines, Mirrors is over with, and you can listen to the entire thing without having to wait.

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Best Mystery News Podcast: Mysterious Universe

Mysterious Universe home page
What We Like
  • Website has new stories every day.

  • Dozens of seasons.

What We Don't Like
  • Some guests indulge in wild theories.

The topics you'll learn about on Mysterious Universe, which include UFO sightings, psychic cats, and "ancestral mind lasers," may sound about as newsworthy as The X-Files, but the reporters are dedicated to separating fact from fiction. Listen to recent episodes with ads for free, or upgrade to a premium membership to enjoy an ad-free experience and exclusive content.

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Best Fictional Mystery Podcast: Limetown

Limetown home page
What We Like
  • Sounds like an authentic radio broadcast.

  • Has a tie-in prequel novel and a TV adaptation.

What We Don't Like
  • Only 19 episodes.

  • Full story requires multiple media.

Limetown is like an audio drama from a bygone era. Fictional reporter Lia Haddock, voiced by Annie-Sage Whitehurst, tells the story of a mass disappearance of people from a Tennessee neuroscience research facility. Both seasons are now available to download and listen to, and you can also check out the prequel novel for more of the story. Limetown also has a TV adaptation available exclusively on NBC's Peacock streaming service.

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Best Classic Mystery Podcast: CBS Radio Mystery Theater

CBS Radio Mystery Theater home page
What We Like
  • Dozens of notable radio and TV actors.

  • More than a thousand stories.

What We Don't Like
  • The stories vary in quality.

This radio drama hosted by Himan Brown originally aired from 1974 to 1982. Thanks to the internet, you can now listen to all 1,399 episodes for free. Fans of Hitchcock, Edgar Allan Poe, and Rod Serling will undoubtedly enjoy the mix of suspense, horror, and fantasy in every episode.

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Funniest Mystery Podcast: ParaPod

Parapod home page
What We Like
  • On-location episodes are fun.

  • Has a tie-in movie.

What We Don't Like
  • Hosts may be grating.

This award-winning show is dedicated to debunking the supernatural and implausible with a touch of humor. Comedic duo Ian and Barry investigate haunted houses, mythical creatures like the Chupacabra, and conspiracy theories like the JFK assassination. Listen for free on iTunes or SoundCloud.

The podcast's film version, The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, came out in 2020.

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Best British Mystery Podcast: Unexplained

Unexplained podcast home page
What We Like
  • Includes content warnings.

  • Hundreds of episodes are available.

What We Don't Like
  • The official website is poorly designed.

Unexplained is a show about strange cases that science can't explain. Along with run-of-the-mill murder mysteries, stories about supposed demonic possessions, and near-death experiences, Unexplained explores the line between the paranormal and the plausible. In 2018, host Richard MacLean Smith released a book based on his podcast, Unexplained: Supernatural Stories for Uncertain Times.

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Best Canadian Mystery Podcast: The Next Call

Cover art for The Next Call with David Ridgen
What We Like
  • The website offers additional content.

  • Each case gets several episodes.

What We Don't Like
  • Not many episodes are currently available.

David Ridgen's follow-up to the also excellent Someone Knows Something is this investigative series. Ridgen dedicates multiple episodes to a particular case, each of which includes interviews with family members, investigators, and even suspects to provide a comprehensive picture of some mysterious, unsolved cases. Canadian listeners might catch it on CBC Radio, but anyone can listen online.

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Strangest Mystery Podcast: Strange Matters

Strange Matters home page
What We Like
  • Organized website.

  • Almost a dozen episode categories.

What We Don't Like
  • More speculation than research.

  • No new episodes since 2019.

Cold cases, urban legends, and historical oddities are relatively tame topics for the hosts of Strange Matters. The more exciting episodes tackle bizarre subjects like cynocephaly, mothmen, and the grey goo theory. The hosts also like to engage in speculative fiction; for example, what would happen if artificial intelligence suddenly became sentient?

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Weirdest Mystery Podcast: Missing Richard Simmons

Missing Richard Simmons home page
What We Like
  • Offers a nice change of pace.

What We Don't Like
  • Series has already concluded.

Not all mystery shows are dark and disturbing. Missing Richard Simmons follows host Dan Taberski on his journey to answer the question that's on nobody's mind: Whatever happened to the flamboyant star of "Sweatin' to the Oldies?" Friends and fans speak out about a man who hasn't been seen in public since 2014.

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Best Podcast About Mystery Podcasts: Crime Writers On . . .

Crime Writers On... home page
What We Like
  • Covers a wide array of topics, media, and series.

  • Introduces listeners to new shows.

What We Don't Like
  • Only entertaining for dedicated listeners.

  • Requires some familiarity with the subject.

A team of true crime authors discuss shows like Serial and related topics in this podcast about other podcasts, TV shows, and movies. The panel gives their expert literary opinions on your favorite fictional and factual mystery shows. If you're a connoisseur of true crime and cold case stories, this show was created for you. 

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