• Alyson Heisler

Listening in: 'Criminalia'

The world of true crime is so often focused on murderous men — what about the women that have also committed criminal acts?

Statistically, there are less women convicted of homicide than men. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice, males were convicted of the vast majority of homicides in the United States between 1980 and 2008.

This does not mean that women do not commit murder.

“Criminalia,” a true-crime podcast created by I-Heart Radio, focuses on famous femme fatales. The show’s first season is dedicated to lady poisoners.

It is often thought that poison is the preferred murder method for women. The list of historically dangerous women includes Marie LaFarge, Giulia Tofana, and Lydia Sherman. Many of these women were not the poisoners, but rather the creators and distributors of the poisons. Fun, or not so fun, fact: the purpose behind the poisons was often to assist women in killing their abusive husbands for their own protection.

The show’s hosts, Holly Frey and Maria Trimarchi, take a humor-filled perspective on these typically dark and mysterious cases. In some ways, the women respect the murderesses by telling their stories without proclaiming their guilt from the beginning.

I especially appreciate the bubbly, positive tone that the hosts use, which is very different in comparison to the spooky, scripted sound of other true-crime podcasts.

Not to say that “Criminalia” doesn’t focus on the facts. Each episode is packed with facts and historical knowledge that helps listeners understand more about the time periods the crimes take place in.

Listening to “Criminalia” feels like you’re part of a conversation among friends, and you just so happen to be talking murder. I wish I had a group of friends that wanted to sit and talk murder over drinks, but for now, I’ll take the company of Frey and Trimarchi.

Another small detail I enjoy about this podcast is the fact that each episode is around 30 minutes in length. The episodes are just long enough to contain the narrative without being too long that the listener becomes bored or overwhelmed with the amount of information being given.

I would recommend “Criminalia” as an introduction to true-crime podcasts. It’s a good quality listen that doesn’t take itself, or its subjects, too seriously.

Another bonus is the themed ending segment called “What’s Your Poison?” where Frey presents and reviews a fun cocktail recipe.

New episodes are posted weekly. “Criminalia” is available to stream and download on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever podcasts are available.

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