Hannah Maguire and Suruthi Bala, co-hosts of the RedHanded podcast, sit down to discuss the popularity of true crime and the science behind serial killers.

True crime has undoubtedly become one of the most popular podcast genres over the last ten years. Digging through conspiracies, unearthing cold cases, celebrating survivors, and picking apart the motives of serial killers has become a viable career opportunity for those willing to lend to lend their voice to a gruesome story.

From Sarah Koenig's Peabody award-winning podcast, Serial, to Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark's podcasting network, Exactly Right, true crime has become an increasingly commodifiable genre - especially for women.

After years of being told to look a certain way for TV or sound a certain way for radio, podcasting has offered women an accessible medium to navigate as they please. With a little know how and some small start up costs, amateur presenters can have their shows up and running from the comfort of their sound-proofed wardrobes within hours.

Of course, that doesn't mean anyone will listen.

With such a saturated market, content creators have to plan, produce, record and edit weekly audio entertainment worthy of a consistent audience. Not to mention the extra Patreon content, merch production, self-promotion, and social media management that come with any start-up venture.

No small task but one that is undeniably profitable when done right.

We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

One such example is RedHanded, a British true crime podcast hosted by Hannah Maguire and Suruthi Bala that aims to tackle mysterious murders, tantalising ghost stories, bizarre whodunits and well-known serial killers - all through a political lens.

With a regular monthly audience of nearly two million people, the two have created a series of ticketed shows and a wide range of merch. Their loyal fans (better known as "Spooky Bi**hes") earn them about £36,000 a month on Patreon, making the show one of the top five earning podcasts in the UK.

In fact, the show's run has been so successful, it's led to a book deal.

"The concept that we settled on for the book was: what makes a killer?", Hannah tells me over Zoom, "because that's at the core of what RedHanded is. We're always asking why did this person do this horrendous thing? We just really wanted to understand what happens to a person to get them to that point."

We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Suruthi nods in agreement, adding that the full tag line for the book is RedHanded: An Exploration of Criminals, Cannibals, Cults, and What Makes a Killer Tick.

"That final line - what makes a killer tick - is the backbone of the entire book," she explains. "Hannah and I wanted to look back at what we learned over the past - at that point - three years of doing the show. I think the overwhelming thing we kept coming back to was that there isn't one singular thing that makes a killer tick or makes a person kill."

"We wanted to talk to people about the specific building blocks you come across on the road to murder. For example, chapter one is about genetics. People are obsessed with the idea that killers are born rather than made, because then we can 'otherise' them and say that they're monsters and we as a society don't have to take responsibility for poor education, poor housing, or inequality because we can just blame genes."

"So we looked into the junk science of that as well as the real science of that, finding out what exactly is hereditary and what's not."

We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

With so many women diving into a (legal) career in crime, standing out from the crowd is no easy task. And while many podcasts document the stories of survivors and serial killers, many fail to deliver context.

Since they began recording in 2017, the RedHanded duo have made a point to discuss societal issues surrounding the case or ones that felt prevalent at the time of recording. This has ranged from honour killings in the UK and femicide in Mexico to the Black Lives Matter movement, which they covered with a six-part special.

"I really believe there are are no new ideas," says Hannah. "True crime is a crowded space so trying to invent a new type of true crime show was a waste of time. We didn't have rules. It just became what it is because of who we are and what we find interesting to talk about, and that's politics most of the time."

More recently we've really found an interest in doing geo-political cases or ones where we can talk about the social, cultural, political or economical factors that feed into a crime," adds Suruthi. "We just covered the case of Jamal Khashoggi and I don't think it's a natural case for other shows to cover but it feels so RedHanded."

We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

When it comes to re-telling the stories of victims, the two believe that women are often best positioned to lead the way in true crime because, unfortunately, most of the victims are female.

"There are some cases that immediately stick out to me," says Suruthi. "The way in which Hannah and I would absorb a case and retell that case is so fundamentally different to if we were two men because we have lived with the fear of that same thing happening to us.

Some cases hit home; whether it be because of the victim's age, the location of the crime, or because the circumstances highlight the danger of every day situations. For Suruthi, it was the abduction and murder of 17-year-old Hannah Foster who was taken by a man in a white van when she was just a few metres from her home. Since then, the podcaster says she's been wary of coming too close to white vans when walking alone.

"The way in which a man would tell that story would be fundamentally different because that's not a fear that would be on his mind," she concluded.

"As women, we know what it's like to be afraid," adds Hannah. "We're taught that it's this unsolvable threat that we just have to get over, and I think one of the reasons women consume true crime is to relieve the anxiety because you're gathering information about something you've been told is inevitable."

We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

This savvy recipe of political awareness and serial killer psychology - with a few bad dating stories thrown in for good measure - seems to be one of success. Not only will the two be debuting their book in September but Covid-safe live shows are on the cards alongside new merch, weekly episodes and the Patreon-only Under the Duvet after-show.

It's no wonder women love true crime.

To find out more about RedHanded, visit their website here.