Ever since Serial, the podcast world has been blitzed by one crime mystery series after another, each attempting to replicate a formula while also distinguishing itself from the others. It’s getting harder to do, and the bandwagon is creaking under the weight.
It’s this sentiment of fatigue that may make crime and podcast fans hesitant about listening to the new Australian 10 part true-crime series, Blood Territory. Narrated by award-winning journalist, Mark Whittaker, this is a deep investigation into the case of 22-year-old Jimmy O’Connell who was murdered in the Northern Territory in 2006. Local man, Philip Mather was convicted of the murder and spent nine years in jail, all the while protesting his innocence along with O’Connell’s own parents. Mather and O’Connell were best buddies at one time until they had a petty falling out that turned ever more sour. However, there were plenty of other suspects with highly plausible motives and only fractionally less evidence against them than the dubious witness testimonial that damned Mather. The real intrigue of the case is the murder scene. O’Connell’s burnt-out car was discovered on a property. Metres away, his body, partly mummified due to the delay in finding him, is lying in a dried out creek, naked and with a very specific mutilation, which may be key to the case or may have a reasonable, innocuous explanation.
The success of these podcasts is in the telling of the story and for the most part, it’s done well; but the show does suffer from over editorialising by the narrator – something that has come to typify the genre. Without repetitive conjecture, the series could easily have been compacted down to six or fewer episodes. In its favour is the inherent mystique of the isolated and unpredictable Top End.
Available now for a limited time, free on Audible.com.au
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich