Podcast obsession: Young Charlie

I first discovered the Wondery podcasts when I learnt about their take on the Black Dahlia story (Hollywood and Crime). I listened to the whole series, and while I obviously enjoyed learning more about the story, I wasn’t particularly taken by the way it had been dramatised: it’s just that it was a bit too “American 1940s film” with a somewhat stereotypical dialogue, both for those who were playing the cops and those who were playing the journalists. So I confess that it took me a while to listen to Wondery’s new product, Young Charlie. But, listen to it I did, on a long running session, and not only did it help me not feel the tiredness of my 15k, it also kept me engaged and alert throughout.

Young Charlie is a clever take on the Charles Manson story, where the narration is split in two: it starts with the day after the murders, and the investigation that ensues, and the way the police is tying all the knots and eventually arriving as Spahn Ranch to discover this diminutive cult leader – this part is narrated by Tracy Pattin, in the past tense, like a “traditional” crime and legal story of a sequence of events. Interweaving this narrative is Stephen Lang and his account of Charles Manson’s life from the age of five to…well, the day of the murders, and in this case it’s almost like a novel, using the present tense, emotional, riveting. The two stories run parallel for seven episodes and finally meet, and what a thrill it is – perfectly narrated, perfectly paced, and absolutely addictive.

Favourite episodes: again, this is a linear narration so I cannot exactly pick one, as they are all necessary to understand the story. But I guess that the last two are the ones that had me gasp (and I was on the treadmill!) – I’ll have to listen to the whole podcast again soon.

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