Sunday, April 11, 2021

Podcast Review: Murder Book Season 2 - The Women Who Stopped Sam Little

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good look at the work that went into stopping a brutal serial killer.
Cons: Details are horrific (when shared), some recordings hard to hear
The Bottom Line:
Stopping a killer
Makes sometimes brutal podcast
Still worth listening

Bringing a Serial Killer to Justice

When true crime podcast Murder Book started releasing season two this last fall, I kept saving the episodes for some time when I’d be driving.  Not sure why, since I was listening to a couple other podcasts around the condo.  Anyway, I just now decided it was time to listen to the season in its entirety.  While it was good, I think it might have been a little too intense to listen to all at once.

Season two focuses on the case of Sam Little, a man the FBI has named the most prolific serial killer in America’s history.  He has confessed to just under 100 kills in a decades long crime spree that spanned the country.  I hadn’t heard about him until this season of the podcast was released, but apparently, he is becoming the focus of many documentaries and specials.

However, this podcast comes at things from a different perspective.  The host, best-selling author Michael Connelly, labeled this season “The Women who Stopped Sam Little.”  It focuses on LAPD Mitzi Roberts, who started the investigation in 2012 with a DNA match on two cold cases from the 1980’s.  She then tracked Sam across the country, attempting to build a case that DA Beth Silverman could use to convict him.  Late in the season, we meet writer Jillian Lauren who becomes part of the investigation thanks to interviews with Sam Little as she attempts to match his confessions to actual unsolved cases in LA and across the country.

Because of the brutal way Sam killed his victims, mostly prostitutes and drug addicts, this season is often hard to listen to.  I binged it in about a week, and that definitely made it hard.  At times, I had to get away.

One reason why this season is so frustrating is that it does talk about how Sam slipped through the justice system many times over the years.  Although, honestly, I’m not sure how things could have gone differently.  Much is made of how juries and the system viewed the victims, but there were other things going on that made the prosecution’s cases very hard to win.  Still, knowing how close he came to justice in the past and how that might have saved lives is frustrating.

Like with the first season, the show tries to use recordings of interviews as much as possible.  And, like the first season, those are of mixed quality, especially if the person being interviewed was mumbling.  Fortunately, Michael Connelly does help us at times with what we were supposed to hear.

One thing I did appreciate was that the podcast took an even look at law enforcement.  Without making excuses, it does explain some of the reasons, good and bad, that Sam Little was able to evade law enforcement for so long.  And it does an excellent job of giving praise where it is due to the women (and men) who finally brought the killer to justice.

There are a total of twelve episodes to this season, including a two-part Q&A with the women I mentioned above.  Each episode is somewhere in the 40-minute range, some going a little longer and some a little shorter.

While not always easy to listen to, “The Women Who Stopped Sam Little” does a good job of focusing on the victims and the work that went into finally stopping this serial killer.  It doesn’t glorify him or what he did in the slightest.  Be in the right frame of mind when you sit down to listen, and you’ll enjoy.

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