Serial fans, brace yourself for the next from its creators: S.Town, a podcast about a small-town murder

FP Staff

Mar,28 2017 12:32 48 IST

If you loved Serial, the podcast by Sarah Koenig and This American Life, then you'd be glad to know — the team is ready with its next offering.

If Serial's season one narrated the story of the disappearance of high school student Hae Min Lee, and the subsequent arrest, trial and incarceration of her boyfriend Adnan Syed in connection with the case, then this new podcast from the team also has a murder mystery at its core. What makes this mystery compelling, however, is that no one knows anything about it (or at least, nothing that they're willing to share) — except for one old member of the Alabama town where the incident is believed to have taken place. The podcast has been titled S.Town.

The story begins when Brian Reed (who hosts S.Town) is approached by an old man named John — a wealthy if eccentric Alabama esident who spends his time restoring antique clocks — to investigate a murder and its subsequent cover-up. Serial's co-creator Julie Snyder, This American Life creator and host Ira Glass, and Serial host Sarah Koenig are all part of the S-Town team. along with Reed.

Cover art for S.Town. Image courtesy Facebook

Cover art for S.Town. Image courtesy Facebook

The S.Town website describes the start of Reed and John's association like this: "John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who's allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man's life."

If that isn't enough to draw you in, here's a transcript of the two-minute podcast preview teased by Brian Reed and the S.Town team. It does a great job of setting the mood for the slow, satisfying unravelling that we're sure follows:

"When an antique clock breaks, a clock that's been telling time for 200 or 300 years old, fixing it can be a real puzzle.

If a clock like that was handmade by someone, it might tick away the time with a pendulum, a spring — with a pulley system, it might have bells that are supposed to strike the hour, or a bird that's meant to pop out and 'cuckoo' at you... there can be hundreds of tiny, individual pieces, each of which needs to interact with the others precisely.

Serial co-producer Brian Reed (right) worked on the story of S.Town for three years. Here he is seen with John, the wealthy and eccentric Alabama resident who asked Reed to investigate a murder. Image courtesy facebook

Serial co-producer Brian Reed (right) worked on the story of S.Town for three years. Here he is seen with John, the wealthy and eccentric Alabama resident who asked Reed to investigate a murder. Image courtesy facebook

To make the job even trickier, you often can't tell what's been done to a clock, over hundreds of years. Maybe there was damage that was never fixed, or fixed badly. Sometimes, entire portions of the original clock would go missing, but you cannot know for sure because there were rarely diagrams of what the clock was supposed to look like.

A clock that old doesn't come with a manual, so instead, the few people left in the world who know how to do this kind of work often rely on what are called 'witness marks 'to guide their way. A witness mark could be a small dent, a hole that once held a screw, these are actual impressions and outlines and discolourations left inside the clock, of pieces that might have once been there. They are clues to what was in the clockmaker's mind, when he first created the thing.

I'm told fixing an old clock can be maddening, you're constantly wondering whether you spent hours going down a path that will probably take you nowhere, and all you've got are these vague witness marks which might not even mean what you think they mean. So at every moment along the way, you have to decide if you're wasting your time — or not. Anyway... I only learned about all this because years ago, an antique clock restorer contacted me.

And asked me to help him solve a murder."

All seven episodes of the S.Town podcast will be released on 28 March 2017. So get ready to binge-listen.

Meanwhile, tune in to the preview here, or play the Facebook link below: