There must have been a point at Netflix HQ when it became apparent that anything they created about serial killers went through the roof in terms of ratings. And so they went all in. Whether it's the Night Stalker, Ted Bundy, The Ripper, John Wayne Gacy or any other number of heinous crimes committed over the years, Netflix have found a way to bring it to the screen.
And that then leads us to Catching Killers. Rather than focus on one particularly awful case of murder and intrigue, here the premise is to look at how individual cases were solved. Interviewing the detectives in charge and mixing it with footage from the time, each episode looks at a specific case and how it came to a conclusion.
The first episode is about the Green River killer, the second most prolific serial killer in United States. His hunting ground was in Washington and the name comes from the river in which his first five victims were found.
Lead Detective Dave Reichert, Detective Fae Brooks and Det Tom Jensen detail the extraordinary case and the pressure they were under to track down the suspect. But with DNA testing in its infancy and leads running cold it took over 20 years to finally get justice for the women that were murdered.
The second episode of Catching Killers, Manhunter: Aileen Wuornos details the story of the first female serial killer in the US. Aileen Wuornos has been the subject of many documentary series and movies over the years but here we learn firsthand how the detectives and criminal investigators caught her using an undercover cop.
And lastly, spread over two episodes is the very unusual case of The Happy Face Killer. Originally the authorities believed they had the killers in custody when Laverne Pavlinac, confessed to having killed Taunja Bennett with the help of her abusive boyfriend, John Sosnovske. Convicted, they went to prison.
But the twist comes from a letter sent to a newspaper where another person admitted to the crime. So were Pavlinac and Sosnovske guilty? Or was somebody else responsible? The detectives, journalists and prosecutors interviewed for this are all on different pages. The detective felt incredibly sorry for Pavlinac, the prosecutor was adamant they had the right killers and the journalist set out to unravel the slam dunk case. So who was right?
Catching Killers is a fascinating look at the inner workings of a high profile investigation. However, the episodes are short and it's hard to imagine you can compress a 20-year investigation into just 40 minutes. So from that perspective, it's far more of a surface level show rather than one with any real depth.
That said, it will have you glued to the screen and most probably waiting for more.