There I was, walking down the street towards my daily caffeine fix when I saw it: an abandoned note folded up on the sidewalk. Was it a secret love confession? A cryptic code that unlocked the secrets of the universe? Clues to a hidden urban treasure? In my mind it was likely, somehow, all of the above.
But what in the world got me looking around for clues like some sort of thirsty Nancy Drew? My new favorite podcast, that’s what. It’s called Mystery Show, and I’m pretty sure if you’re not already obsessed, you’re about to be. I’m so sure, in fact, that I’ve laid out 6 reasons to listen to (and love) it. You can thank me later.
I have so many childhood memories of mystery shows and books. It was everywhere in the 80s and 90s—The Hardy Boys, Goosebumps, Ghostwriter, Scooby Doo, The Boxcar Children, Clue, Murder She Wrote—and these just barely touch the surface of what was out there for us to get our little mitts on. Hell, even Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were solving crimes in trench coats at one point. So a podcast dedicated to “mysteries that can’t be solved on the internet?” Sign. Me. Up.
2. Some fantastic storytelling.
So yes, each episode is about solving one specific mystery, but it’s so much more than that. I saw someone on Twitter say their favorite part about the podcast was the “empathetic detours.” I couldn’t say it better myself (trust me, I tried.). Mystery Show does a stellar job of weaving in different stories into the main mystery. Host Starlee Kine (I rave about her in the next point, don’t worry) has to do a lot of calling and interviewing and talking to strangers to follow her clues (what a gumshoe, right?). So when, for example, she calls a man who used to study under a chef who may be the owner of a long lost belt buckle (it’ll make sense once you listen, promise) she doesn’t just talk to him about the mystery at hand, she learns more of his own story—which happens to be an incredible tale of love and fate. So what you’re getting isn’t just the Matlock-satisfaction of solving a mystery, you’re getting a healthy dose of humanity along with it.
3. Host Starlee Kine is perfect.
Perfect might be strong, but her name is Starlee, so that alone wins her some points even before she opens her mouth. She has that classic NPR-esque warmth and slight lisp that for some reason makes listening extra enjoyable. I may or may not have found her on Twitter @starleekine and confessed my Mystery Show love after I finished episode one.
4. Jake Gyllenhaal gets involved.
I don’t want to spoil anything but episode #5 is absolutely hilarious and involves a super-charming Mr. Gyllenhaal.
5. Podcasts are great.
You know how when you read a book you get to construct what the characters look and sound like? And you know how sometimes if that book is made into a movie you’re like wait no that’s not how they’d look or talk! Well I think podcasts do something that sparks the imagination in the same way books do. Maybe it’s because all of the blanks aren’t filled in for us like they are on TV and in movies, or maybe it’s because we’re more likely not to multitask while listening? Whatever it is, it makes me feel all warm and old-fashioned. Last weekend a friend and I listened to an episode at my kitchen table with coffee and donuts and I felt like we were just two kids in the 50s gathering around the radio and yes, it was adorable.
6. You’ll start to look for mysteries and clues everywhere.
I am now consumed with finding my own mystery so that I can call it in and Starlee can crack the case wide open. And I could maybe be her sidekick. And then co-host. OR WHATEVER. Which brings us back to my mystery of the sidewalk note. I wish I had a really cool ending a la Starlee, but upon closer inspection it turned out to just be a napkin. Like, not even a bar napkin with a red lip print and a phone number. Just a dirty napkin that someone had carelessly thrown away. But ya know what? I bet Starlee would say that it’s good enough that for a moment I saw the world in a different light; that I’ve brought some mystery and mischief into my everyday. Or maybe she’d be like you’re a bad detective don’t quit your day job. But I hope it’d be one of the first two.
You can listen to Mystery Show here or by downloading it on your phone like a cool millennial.