MY FAVORITE MURDER and the Case of the Unappealing Readalike List

Y’all know My Favorite Murder, right? The super-popular podcast that, through some alchemical magic, blends true crime and comedy as told by two women who do the bare minimum of research and spend as much time detailing personal anecdotes as they do the murders they’re ostensibly covering?

MFM has a huge and devoted following—search Etsy and you’ll find cross stitch samplers with MFM slogans like “Stay Sexy, Don’t Get Murdered” and “You’re in a cult, call your dad,” t-shirts emblazoned with “Triflers need not apply,” and mugs with my personal fave mantra, “Fuck politeness.”

Because MFM is so popular, libraries and other book places are (rightly!) capitalizing on that by creating lists of read- and listen-alikes. If you like MFM, you might also like listening to the comedy-horror The Last Podcast on the Left, which covers some of the same terrain but in more detail. [I do! Hail yourself!—Ed.] You’ve almost certainly read Anne Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me, the true-crime classic about the author’s CO-WORKER TED BUNDY. (Caps lock for WTFery.)

The thing is, I tried reading TSBM, encouraged by it’s classic-ness and MFM hosts Karen Kilgarff and Georgia Hardstock’s squee-ing. But I just wasn’t feeling it. Same with LPotL and myriad other crime-related media. It’s not that I don’t like things about murder—I do! I like mysteries a lot! And I like exploring the dark recesses of the human mind from a safe distance! So what is wrong with me??

It turns out there is nothing wrong with me (ha)—I just did some lazy readers’ advisory on myself.

Look. Listen. Look and listen. The key appeal of MFM, for me, is not the story but the delivery. The stories themselves are interesting, but it’s the fact that the hosts interrupt each other and lose their places and go on tangents about cats and therapy that I really like. I could listen to Karen and Georgia read the phone book, provided they were allowed to add unlimited side commentary along the way. Plus, they are vaguely misanthropic and unapologetically feminist and are easily moved to tears by unexpected things, which is, like, how I live my life.

What are some good MFM readalikes for a listener like me? They should be conversational in tone and have a strong—strong like Hercules-strong—narrative voice. I never remember the details of the crime, which to me means the plot should not be too taxing or traumatic. I want books where I’m just along for the ride.

Here are a few mysteries I have liked that fit the bill. On account of their strong narrative voice, these are excellent audiobook selections. Some other possibilities I entertained were Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt series and Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files series. After that, I’m drawing a blank.

So, dear readers: What should a Murderino like me read next? Leave a note in the comments!

 

Guardian of the Horizon, by Elizabeth Peters, read by Barbara Rosenblat

Late Victorian-era sleuth Amelia Peabody gives me life. She is smart and resourceful and hits people with her parasol if they assume otherwise. Plus, she has a hot husband.  This mystery series involve the era’s fascination with Egyptology, and often have a vaguely supernatural air (though the perpetrators are always human). See also: Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, which goes a little further off the MFM map, since it’s more steampunk / paranormal romance, but Alexa Tarabotti is so clearly an alternate-dimension kin of Amelia Peabody that I just want to give it a little love here.

 

One for the Money, by Janet Evanovitch, read by C. J. Critt

Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series—I KNOW. Look, after four hundred books, the bounty-hunter capers have lost a little of their sparkle. (She should just pick Joe Morelli and be done with it!) But the first, One for the Money, is a genuine delight, with Plum’s middling competence facing actual danger to hilarious effect. (Warning: Do not watch the movie.)

 

Raisins and Almonds, by Kerry Greenwood, read by Stephanie Daniel

Kerry Greenwood sets her Phryne Fisher mysteries in 1920s Australia. Heroine Phryne does stuff like fly planes and drive fast and sleep with lots of men she is attracted to, flipping a metaphorical bird to societal expectations. She’s also a fabulous dresser and spends her inherited wealth generously. In short, she knows how to live and also how to figure out how people died.

 

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