The Last Days of August

Jon Ronson has worn many hats: gonzo journalist, author, documentary filmmaker and finally, podcaster. And all them follow Ronson’s relentless pursuit of truth. Whether its his 2001 book, ‘Them: Adventures with Extremists’, where he details his experiences with various kinds of extremists, or his other popular book (and subsequent feature film adaptation) ‘The Men Who Stare At Goats’, concerning the US Army’s exploration of New Age concepts and the potential military applications of the paranormal, or his ‘The Butterfly Effect’ podcast, which focuses on internet pornography, and Fabian Thylmann and PornHub’s effect on the industry, Ronson wants to find the beating heart of an immediate story and lay it bare for his readers/listeners.

His newest effort, released on January 4 in seven chapters, sees him investigate the death of adult star August Ames, who committed suicide days after she was subjected to a storm of negative comments on social media. Her death in 2017 sent ripples in mainstream media signalling months of heated debate on online call-out culture and the rights of sex workers. Ronson steps in to investigate and find out the true reason that led to Ames’ untimely death.

Charm City

Released six months ago by the folks at the New York Times’ ‘The Daily’ podcast, ‘Charm City’ somehow evaded our orbit until very recently.

A five-part audio series about a Baltimore teenager who was killed by the police and a grieving family still searching for answers, ‘Charm City’ hits you in the chest when you realise how often this happens and yet how little we know about the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ and how little anybody cares. Lavar Montray Douglas, known as Nook, was among seven young people from one high school in Baltimore who were killed after the death of one Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died of a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody. Tune in as you follow Nook’s family who are “searching for truth from the streets where he died, the police who took his life and the city that won’t give them answers”.

Happy Face

It’s easy to get into a rut with true crime shows. Now that we’re all but immune to the horrific tales we listen to day in, day out, ‘Happy Tales’ comes along to bring back some of the lost humanity. The 12-part podcast series by How Stuff Works follows Melissa Moore as she documents herself coming to grips with the fact that her father, Keith Hunter Jesperson, is a serial killer. He’s been convicted of murdering eight women, although he has claimed to have killed dozens more. One of the most important internal conflicts she brings to the fore is the idea that she may have inherited her father’s psychopathic tendencies.

She’s the spitting image of her father, maybe she thinks like him, too? ‘Happy Face’ sees Moore confront her own worst fears as she repeatedly reiterates that she wants to protect her own son from her father’s history. The show also features audio snippets from the detective who helped bring Jesperson to justice and the man who gave Jesperson the ‘Happy Face’ moniker. If there’s one thing you do this weekend, you owe it to yourself to tune into this show.

The Murder Book

Wiretaps, witness interviews, court recordings and detective recollections piece together this true crime podcast hosted by Michael Connelly that explores real homicide cases not covered by mainstream media. ‘Murder Book Podcast Season One: The Tell-Tale Bullet’ launches on January 28. The podcast dives into a 30-year-old Hollywood killing that tests the limits of the American criminal justice system.