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Jenny Blackhurst talks to The Crime Hub about her new novel, Someone Is Lying and her favourite podcasts

Jenny Blackhurst is an author who constantly finds new and innovative ways to hit the mark for readers of psychological crime fiction.

She has a string of bestsellers to her name including How I lost you, Before I Let You In and The Foster Child.

Her latest novel, Someone is Lying (paperback released on 14th November 2019, published by Headline) is not only a compelling murder mystery, one of the central aspects of the book is the way in which she uses podcasts to drive the plot! 

Perhaps this isn’t surprising as Jenny is a renowned connoisseur of crime podcasts.

The Crime Hub decided to track her down in Shropshire where she lives and find out more about her work as well as her ten favourite podcasts.

Jenny, could you give us a brief introduction to Someone is Lying.

Someone is Lying is centred around a gated community in Cheshire where a tragic death took place one year ago. The occupants of Severn Oaks are still coming to terms with the death when an anonymous podcast appears claiming that the death wasn’t accidental, as previously claimed, and that the podcaster will be delving into the secrets hidden within the community and ultimately uncover a murderer.

What gave you the idea to introduce a podcast into the plot?

Like millions of others I was listening to Serial when I began to wonder how it would feel to be listening to a true crime podcast if the crime being discussed had been in your town, and what would happen if your name was suddenly mentioned, and worse, if you had been mentioned as a possible suspect.

This got my crime mind whirring about what repercussions that would have on your life, how you wouldn’t know who had heard the podcast, who suddenly believed you were guilty and how that could affect an entire community.

"True crime podcasts put us very much in the middle of an investigation and we feel as though we are right there discovering clues"

What is it about this relatively new medium of podcasts that interests you?

I think our fascination with true crime in general interests me. Past cases that might have been forgotten are now being dissected in our living rooms, our kitchens and our cars.

Podcasts open these cases up to a new and wider audience, we are discussing them at the watercooler, on social media and over dinner. True crime podcasts put us very much in the middle of an investigation and we feel as though we are right there discovering clues and interpreting evidence that might not have been heard in court or discussed in the news and everyone wants to think that their analytical skills will surely solve the case.

It’s storytelling at its finest. 

If you had to choose, which ten crime fiction or true crime podcasts make your top ten?

In no particular order (but always with Serial at the top because that’s the podcast that spawned my true crime addiction):

1 – Serial

Sarah Koenig narrates the story of the murder of student Hae Min Lee in Baltimore in 1999. One of the most shocking aspects of this story was that it isn’t an unsolved murder – Hae’s boyfriend Adnan Syed was convicted of her murder based on the evidence of his friend who claimed Syed showed him Hae’s body in the trunk of his car. When Sarah gets a call from Syed’s aunty, Rabia Choudry, citing several inconsistencies in the evidence against him Sarah begins an investigation of her own.

What she discovered both intrigued and divided listeners like no other podcast had before it.  

2 – Body of Proof

I spent several days binge listening to this brilliant new investigation into the death of Suzanne Pilley in 2010 released in podcast style episodes on audible. Like Serial, Susanne’s case was closed when her killer was convicted, although her body was never found and the narrators spent a year going over all of the evidence in the case, including what never made it into court.

I listened slack jawed to the flaws in the prosecution’s case and actually shouted at Alexa on more than one occasion. 

3 – West Cork

I’ve only just started this one but so far it’s gooood. Sophie Toscan du Plantier was discovered at the edge of her property near the town of Schull in West Cork, Ireland, murdered days before Christmas in 1996. So far an intriguing, binge worthy mystery.

4 – A Killing on The Cape

Christa Worthington was found stabbed to death with her 2-year-old daughter, unharmed at her side in 2002 in Cape Cod, an idyllic seaside town. Another ‘solved’ case in that Christa’s trash collector, Christopher McCowen was eventually convicted of the crime, but his trial raised questions about the evidence, investigative methods, and whether racial prejudice played a role in his arrest.

I listened to this in one sitting.

5 – The Grift

‘A show about con artists and the lives they ruin.’ The Grift by best-selling author and New Yorker writer Maria Konnikova is entertaining and shocking in equal measure. I loved Maria’s book The Confidence Game and I’m fascinated by people who change persona’s the way regular people change underclothes so this podcast is one of my favourite ever. You’ll listen aghast to tales of fake heiresses, carnival cons and card sharks, and by the end you won’t even trust yourself.

6 – Beyond Reasonable Doubt by BBC Five Live

I binge watched The Staircase on Netflix and immediately went looking for answers the show chose not to give. It became clear that The Staircase had been made with cooperation from Michael Peterson, a writer accused of beating his wife to death and alleging that she had fallen down a staircase in the family home and it was hard to tell if conflicting evidence was down to producer bias or wrongful arrest.

This podcast complimented the show, telling you all the things that producers chose not to include. If you’ve watched The Staircase and still have questions this is the podcast for you.

7 – Someone Knows Something

Director David Ridgen, an award-winning filmmaker and writer specialising in hard-hitting, character-driven stories, with a passion for investigative work and narrative experimentation investigates several unexplained disappearances. I lost myself in the heartbreaking case of Kerrie Brown who disappeared after a party in 1986

8 – Sword and Scale

Looking at different true crime cases every episode, this podcast narrated by Mike Boudet includes 999 calls, interviews and trial information and delves into the ‘worst of the worst’.  Not for the faint hearted.

9 – To Live and Die in LA

Adea Shabani, a beautiful aspiring actress from LA disappears without a trace. What starts as an open and shut ‘the boyfriend did it’ quickly becomes much more.

10 – Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad

Billy Jensen is an investigative journalist, Paul Holes is a retired investigator. In this podcast they attempt to use their experience and new technology to solve cold cases and invite listeners to join them. 

Jenny tweets from @jennyBlackurst

Click here to buy Jenny’s books

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