Only this story doesn’t end with her finally getting her break or even packing up her belongings and calling it quits. It ends with her disappearance.
To Live and Die in LA explores the evolving mystery behind the disappearance of Adea Shabani, a 25 year old Macedonian woman who vanished outside her Hollywood apartment in early 2018. Rolling Stone editor and author Neil Strauss originally intended for his deep-dive investigation to be just a series of recordings, a way for him to keep track for a future story. However, as time progressed, Strauss realized that it was more than just a simple story with an established word count. He opens the podcast, confessing this to listeners:
“I don’t know where Adea is, but I have a good idea who does. He’s been on the run since Adea disappeared, armed with two guns and a metal club. Right now, I’m sitting outside the apartment where he’s supposed to be staying and it’s my turn to confront him. I’m alone, I’m not armed, I’ve never been in a fight in my life, and I’m regretting this.”
With that, you are thrust into a world filled with fear, accusations, and speculation. Just like the first season of Serial and S-Town, To Live and Die in LA masterfully takes us on a dark and twisted journey where we think we have the answers and that figured out the case and the guilty party, but are left with more twists, turns, and questions. Listeners are with Strauss every step of the way, and it’s a path that I really don’t want to end.
Although the goal of the show is to uncover the truth about Adea Shabani, To Live and Die in LA explores the complex and heart wrenching ripple effect of when a person goes missing. We hear the anguish and desperation of her mother, her close friends, and even random witnesses who thought they saw Adea on her last day. While many people tragically disappear all the time, Strauss binds us to these strangers and we find ourselves just as invested in finding Adea or, at least, the truth.
Here’s just the first episode. Warning: This podcast is NSFW. Listener discretion advised.
Just a Heads Up
If you’re inquisitive like me, listening to To Live and Die in L.A. will immediately cause you to conduct a Google search on Adea Shabani.
DO NOT GOOGLE THIS CASE.
I made the mistake of doing that, and spoiled some future and major events of this podcast. Nevertheless, Neil Strauss’s flawless storytelling and real-time investigation still made me gasp when those moments came to light. Still, take it from me: you’ll want to be shocked.
To save you from spoilers – because anyone who spoils this podcast for you is a demon from the nether region – I’m not going to breakdown all the people featured in the episodes. Here’s who you need to know:
Adea Shabani: the victim.
It is her voice that you hear when the episode opens (after Strauss’s warning about this being a true life crime), accusing a man that he beat her and stole her Rolex watch. Her voice is filled with pain and anger, and this would be the last anyone would hear from her.
Jayden Brandt: the private investigator hired by the Shabani family. It is through Brandt that Strauss, who had previously worked with the private eye, became acquainted with Adea’s disappearance. He and Strauss work together to put the pieces of this mystery together.
Neil Strauss: the narrator. Through Strauss, we feel his fear, shock, frustration, and anger as new light is shed on Adea’s vanishing.
The listener becomes just as obsessed as the writer, wanting to uncover the truth, hoping for the best, and bracing for the worst. What drives the story further is the danger that Strauss, himself, faces by bringing this story to light:
“Little did I know that this small conversation [with Brandt] would turn into a serious commitment, and would put me and my family at risk. In fact, I’ve recently been told, and I quote, ‘Bad things are going to happen to me’ in a sense of a threat on my life, or my safety, or my family.”
Where You Can Listen
Here’s just some of the spots to catch To Live and Die in L.A: