Cover Image: The Babysitter

The Babysitter

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Member Reviews

This is an interesting story told from Liza’s memories and court case facts from the trial and investigation. The fact that the killer could be so cold as to commit these crimes, but be so gentle with Liza and her siblings is astonishing. The another does a very good job of bringing all the facts to light and still making the story enjoyable.

#thebabysitter #netgalley

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I finally got to this book and I was thrilled to learn that it was a true story (mostly because I love learning about serial killers- I studied criminology in school) The chilling tale of serial killer Tony Costa's life from the perspective ofLiza Rodman's recollection of the time spent with him as a little girl is definitely what any true crime lover must-read this holiday season!

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This was incredibly engrossing. I’m not the biggest true crime person – like I’m not out there watching every new documentary Netflix drops. I think it’s mostly that I don’t really have the stomach for the real life details, especially when they get graphic. I do, however, like things like BuzzFeed Unsolved and Bailey Sarian’s Murder, Mystery, and Makeup series. But I try not to overdo it because I think that can make you kind of weirdly desensitized and I don’t love that.

This is a very “I’m just dipping my toe in” friendly true crime book. I think the fact that it’s half-memoir makes it a lot easier to take in. You get breaks from reading about a truly awful person and it’s a lot less glorifying, which can be a real stomach-turner. The point of the book isn’t to romanticize Costa – it’s an exploration of something that deeply affected both Liza’s childhood and adult life, and also taking a look at the red flags we ignore from people we care about.

It’s also a really interesting slice of history. The book talks a good amount about what the attitude towards missing girls and young women was in the 60s, mainly that people just didn’t care. It was just a thing that happened and so many people never got answers about lost loved ones.

And I appreciated that the authors did not gloss over how, at best, utterly incompetant, and at worst, incredibly corrupt, the police that handled the investigations into the deaths were. It’s infuriating to read, especially knowing how little things have changed in that aspect.

All in all, while this was really different for me, it was really interesting and it did pique my interest in maybe reading a little more true crime. I’m glad I took a risk on this one, and if you’re at all into true crime, I would definitely recommend it. Or if you’re only, as I said, dipping a toe into true crime, I think this could be a good introduction.

Content notes: Whole lot of rape, murder, some descriptions of dead bodies, child abuse including child sexual assault. Also a bit of unchecked racist language in places but it is a real story from the 60s so. Kind of expected, but now you know going in. I don’t think things are super detailed graphic, but they’re not glossed over either.

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Liza grew up spending summers in Provincetown during the wild 1960s. Her mother would get a job at a hotel so they could justify the move each summer. Her mother was often neglectful and angry, leaving them with whoever she could find to ‘watch’ her children. One of her “babysitters” worked at the same hotel as her mother and was a handyman named Tony Costa. Tony Costa was a serial killer. Liza recounts her memories of her encounters with Tony and her traumatic upbringing with alternating chapters that feature details of Tony’s crimes.

I read a fair amount of true crime and I am always wary of the variety of tones that an author could take. I found this novel to have sensationalism written all over it. True crime can be a fickle genre and can get a lot of flak if the author seems to want to make the case extremely dramatic just to attract readers. I found myself questioning the research methods and I thought the perspectives to be very biased. I really enjoyed Liza’s memoir chapters as it was brutally honest and factual. This book definitely made for an interesting read as this is a case that isn’t widely known and I am glad I read it as I learned about the victims. I thought the court case could have used a bit more detail to wrap up the ending. Thanks to @atriabooks and @netgalley for my review copies. It seems as though the true crime and memoir hybrid is becoming more common!

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Intriguing and chilling account of serial killer Tony Costa's life from the perspective of a Liza Rodman's recollection of the time spent with him as a little girl. A must-read for true crime lovers.

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The Babysitter is part true crime, part memoir about a serial killer named Tony Costa who was active in Cape Cod in the 1960s and a young girl named Liza who knew Tony as her babysitter and friend. These two narratives were weaved together really well and both were equally compelling to me, which can be difficult to do.

My heart broke for Liza and everything she experienced at the hands of her neglectful and abusive mother, and it is so sad to think that a serial killer treated her with more kindness and respect than her mother did (even though there is a good chance he was grooming her). The chapters about Tony’s life and crimes were well-research and well-presented, and I appreciated that the authors followed up on Tony’s potential victims to find out what actually happened to them.

Overall, I thought this was a fascinating, but disturbing, account of a serial killer that I had never heard of before. The authors handled the topic with care, and I think any true crime fan will “enjoy” this book.

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The Babysitter by Jennifer Jordan and Liza Rodman
Rate 4 ⭐️

The problem is that I don’t know how or from where to begin writing this nonfiction book review.

This one was an interesting true crime read for me and the first true crime book I read.
I like how Liza describes her life when she meets Tony. Tony was really good towards Liza and her sister, but I felt that this was Tony’s plan from the beginning. Gaining trust and when they become older that he can use them especially Liza and that she can call him “Yes Master, Yes Sir.” (If you know where are I'm going with this)

I love how this book was part of a memoir and part true crime. The parts where Liza is describing her relationship with her mother are really hard and heartbreaking.
I cannot imagine how she felt and what she suffered. It was emotionally, physically abuse and neglect. I get that that you hate your husband but if a child looks like her father that’s not a reason that you hate that child.

Shocking is that Tony was kindness person toward Liza and she felt safe being with him but then he was a serial killer.

I also liked how the author describes the late 1960s-1970s and I imagined the people from that time. But, the police and police job was really bad. I felt that they didn’t care about missing women and girls. Probably because there were a lot of hippies (they are just regular people nothing bad) and they have been running from home all the time and come back after, and because of that police didn’t take serious action about missing women’s.

This book is worth of your time. Because Liza was a child when she meets Tony and that’s fascinating.
You will find some mystery, especially at the end page-turner will blow your mind.

Thank you NetGalley and Simon&Schuster and Atria books for this ARC!

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Have you ever read something that gives you chills and makes you break out in goosebumps? Have you ever wanted to scream at a character “don’t get in that car, don’t take a ride from him, don’t trust him? Now what if that story was real life and not just fiction? Rodman’s story is full of moments like these where I couldn’t help but shudder and fear for all the women who cross paths with this psychopath. Poor little Liza and her sister couldn’t avoid the danger as their negligent, alcoholic mother often left them in the care of near strangers including one who turned out to be a serial killer.

Tony Costa was a handsome drifter, charming and well liked. He was also brutally killing women and burying their dismembered bodies in the forest. Liza and her sister loved spending time with Tony as he drove them around town and bought them popsicles. Of all the adults peripherally in Liza’s life, Tony was one of the kindest and most attentive. He never hurt the girls or threatened them in any way. I found it unbearably sad that this sick man was the best adult in Liza’s life. Sure, serial killers are terrifying but the real danger and threat in her world was actually her abusive mother. I spent the entire book fuming about her mother and how she was so cruel and self centered that even a violent killer was more loving.

When I read true crime what I want most is some closure. I want the bad guy to be caught and punished and I want to know that the bodies of the victims were found and returned to their families. “My Babysitter” has an excellent concluding section that details Tony’s arrest, incarceration, and sudden death. The part that I appreciated the most was a follow-up on all the potential victims and the research one to track down the “ones who got away.” It was such a relief to learn that Tony didn’t kill every woman he had access to and some of them lived out their lives never knowing the peril they had been in.

In the end. this is a fascinating tale about a little girl and her terrible childhood and her brush with a vicious serial killer. It is a tale of survival and overcoming all the odds. Tony Costa and his sordid crimes might be the draw to this book, but it is Liza’s strength and endurance that really shine through. A police officer told her she was lucky to be alive after her time with Costa and that is certainly true, but he wasn’t the only monster in her life. It is kind of a miracle that she turned out fine and was able to build a normal life.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and Atria Books for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.

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The Babysitter: My Summer with a Serial Killer
Liza Rodman & Jennifer Jordan

Genres: True Crime /Memoir

I really enjoy reading memoirs and true crime books, so I was excited for this book.😍
I enjoyed the structure of the book, how the authors blended the two storylines. At times I felt that I was reading a fictional story. At times I wished I was reading a made-up story. 😳

Both storylines were upsetting and unsettling for different reasons. In Liza's sections, you are reading about how abusive, and neglectful Liza's mother was while Liza was growing up. It was challenging to read some of the scenes with Liza and her mother. 😔
Liza's mom was so selfish that she left her two children with random people so she could go out and party. One of those people being Tony Costa.

Tony's sections were dark and disturbing. The authors covered his dependency on drugs, which then lead to his life falling apart and then to the gruesome murders that he later committed. It was an up-close look at someone coming undone.

I understand that the book is set in the 1960s, and homophobia was rampant at the time. However, there are comments/sentences in the book that are derogatory towards members of the LGBTQ+ community. They are offensive and unnecessary.

Some of the chapters in the book were too long. In my opinion, the extra information didn't add anything to the end result of the story. I would have enjoyed the book more if it was shorter.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was well researched, and I like how the quotes were added to the book seamlessly. My favourite part of the book was the epilogue. The authors did some extra digging and added some interesting information here. I believe that it added some closure.

If you are a fan of memoirs and true crime. I think you will like this book!

Thank you, @simonschusterca & @netgalley, for the gifted copy for an honest review.

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This was my very first true crime book and it won't be my last! Special thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book to read. This one was a very interesting blend of true crime and memoir.

Liza Rodman shared her experience as a child growing up, living with her neglectful Mother. As a result of her Mother's neglect and abuse, she avoided her as much as possible and in turn, tried to spend as much time as possible and ended up idolizing Tony Costa, her babysitter. But Tony ended up being a serial killer. The details in this story are truly disturbing. Tony was clearly a troubled man, and Liza's Mother was horrible and I found myself hating her.

I loved the way this book blended the events of Tony's story with Liza's memoir. Though tough to read at times, it was well written.

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I had high expectations for this book and I felt that this book fell flat, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. It is probably the longest it has taken me to finish a book in awhile, I had to force myself to make time for it. However, I’m giving this book a 3-star based on many factors including content, how it was presented and overall flow.

Firstly, the content. I really did enjoy learning about Tony Costa. I thought his history, the murders and eventual trials and then death were very well researched. I appreciated the amount of research the authors did as well as solving some mysteries, which they added in the epilogue. The epilogue was probably one of the highlights of the book (other than the book finally ending). For me, the worst part was Liza’s history. Most of it was completely unnecessary and added absolutely nothing. She starts off talking about her early years, which is fine. Then more into her childhood and how she and her family interacted with Tony and his family. I feel like the book description presents that he was way more involved in her life than what actually occurred. Her feelings towards him and the activities they did painted a new side of him that probably isn’t focused on very often. Interesting for sure. The random follow ups of her childhood, moving around, her family life and her wondering what her favorite adult, Tony, was doing, unnecessary. Basically felt like random pages to fill the book.

I did enjoy how the content of the book was presented. The authors used facts, direct quotes and a storytelling-like presentation. It made the information more digestible and interesting. It was a great way to learn more about Tony and paint a picture about his life. I liked learning about him from court documents but also how he was with family, friends and even the victims.

At the beginning of the book, I like how the authors do a chapter of Liza’s early childhood, a chapter of Tony’s, chapter of hers etc. It was a nice flow. However, as Tony’s story started to become more developed and intense, the author would throw in an unnecessary chapter about herself. Or even before that, just random stories about her childhood that didn’t add much to anything. Especially when bodies were being found and police were getting closer, it would be interrupted with a page or two of nothing. Thankfully they were short so I could jump back in.

I do like the premise of this book. I like the way the authors helped to paint an (almost) complete picture of Tony Costa. I just felt there were a lot of filler pages that really slowed the book down. I think one of the best parts is the epilogue, I won’t give it away, but it was amazing what they were able to do.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of the book to review. This review is my own opinion.

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An interesting blend of true crime and memoir. Liza Rodman recounts her youth, growing up in 1960s Cape Cod, a time that should have been idyllic and carefree. Instead, she tells of family discord, parental neglect, and spending several summers with various babysitters, including a serial killer, Tony Costa, who was dubbed The Cape Cod Vampire.

Rodman, and writing partner Jennifer Jordan, provide a detailed, well-researched account of Costa’s youth and slow development into a cold-blooded serial killer. Using increasing amounts of drugs, devolving mentally at a rapid rate, and yet polite, articulate and intelligent, Costa had many people in Princetown convinced that he couldn’t possibly have committed the murders.

Rodman’s parallel narrative, her story of summers spent idolizing Costa and avoiding her mother’s wrath, is heartbreaking. In her epilogue, she tells of having her first child, and finally confronting her mother about her youth. And while the truths her mother gave her were harsh, they were the keys to giving Rodman peace and emotional freedom.

This book was disturbing and unsettling. The level of research added to the creepy feelings. And yet, the authors have been fair and judicious in the language they’ve used, ensuring that false accusations were not made. A compelling read that will stand well in the true crime, serial killer genre.

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This book describes life in Cape Cod in the 1960’s and the experience of the authors life during that time. Cape Cod was a tourist town that was filled with hippies and riddled with drugs. One of the citizens was a man named Tony Costa. Tony lived a very destabilized life in that he had trouble maintaining jobs and relationships. He was very involved in drugs and most likely suffered from various mental disorders that were not recognized in those days. Tony also happened to babysit the author when she was younger and she describes her experience with him as being positive.

When women start going missing and police are brought in to investigate they find out Tony might be a suspect in those crimes.

This read was both interesting and frustrating at times. I did overall enjoy the read and it was fascinating to get a glimpse of what life was like in the 60’s. The frustrating part of the book had to do with how the police handled investigating reports of missing women. The fact that they just assumed they would return made me angry. A number of lives could have been saved had the police reacted differently. It was also scary to think that the author might not even have been alive today due to her experience and interactions with Tony Costa. I think all true crime readers will enjoy this one and it’s worth reading and adding to your tbr list.

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I absolutely loved that this was a combination of a memoir and a crime investigation! I have never read anything like this before and found it completely fascinating and compelling. It felt like I was in an episode of Mindhunter and that’s such a captiviating show!

It was haunting and chilling learning the horrific details behind the murders but I found myself cringing just as much reading Liza’s recollection of her unsettling and traumatic childhood.

I also throughly enjoyed the gripping writing style choice of swapping between Liza’s recollection of her summers in Provincetown and then the dangerous and cunning Serial Killer babysitter in Tony Costa.

Overall, I appreciated how well researched it was! My only criticism is that it is a little more of a slow burn than I’m used to, but it was intriguing nonetheless

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This is will surely be a huge true crime/non-fiction hit in 2021. I really enjoyed it, though I was completely creeped out and disgusted by the end. We switch between Liza and Tonys view, giving a glimpse into a childs memories of the time surrounding these events and the serial killer himself - his view is pieced together by the author who have done extensive research. This kept the story captivating and moved at the plot at a decent pace for a non-fiction book. I thought her childhood insight added a unique part to the true crime/non fiction book.

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2.5 ⭐

I rounded it down to 2.5 ⭐ because this book is quite long for the story it has to tell. A lot of filler that doesn't add much to the story. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.

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Chilling. Horrifying. Almost Unbelievable. Terrifying

I cannot imagine how the author must have felt when she learned that the man who babysat her and her sister when they were young was actually a notorious serial killer. YIKES!!!

Now, as an adult, Liza is obsessed with learning all the details she was unaware of as a child. It is little wonder she was plagued by nightmares for years.

The point of view makes this true crime tale unlike any other and readers will be unable to put the book down.

Not only does this book delve into the crimes and Liza's tie to them - including a trip to what turned out later to be his personal secret graveyard, it also explores how a child neglected by her family needed someone to pay attention to her. It also highlights just how different life was in the 1960s and how innocent people were back then.

A five out of five star rating is well deserved. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Releasing on March 2nd, 2021 THE BABYSITTER can be pre-ordered now.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

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I have started to really love true crime and I thought this was a great example of the genre. It read like a novel and was totally gripping right until the end. I loved the personal aspect of Liza, and it was interesting to see the different sides of Tony. I would love to see this as a Netflix special!

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This book is about a girl named Liza Rodman who was a lonely little girl. During the summer her mother would bring Liza and her younger sister to spend their summers in Cape cod. Cape cod really became their home and a safe place for them. Liza didn't have an easy childhood her parent's divorce very early on and her mom was very hard on her and her sister. Her mom was a teacher during the winter and during the summer she would work at the local motel in Cap cod. She would go out dancing almost every night and she loved it.

She would leave Liza and her sister with pretty much anyone. One of their regular babysitters was the handyman at the hotel who was named Tony. To Liza, he was one of the few kind and understanding adults in her life. Everyone thought he was just a “great guy.” But Liza didn't know Tony very well because he was not nice at all. He was a serial killer. But Liza never made the connection till she was an adult. Though Tony Costa’s gruesome case made screaming headlines in 1969 and beyond. Will Liza ever figure it out. How many people did Tony kill? Why didn't he kill Liza and her sister? Why did Tony kill? Did Tony ever get caught?

My review:
OMG you guys! This book was so good and interesting it was part memoir part crime investigation. It was very creepy and strange. I really like the true story aspect of it. It was very well written the author did an awesome job. There are so many details to everything, it really made me get into the book and forget everything else. You can really imagine the characters very well with all the details given. The story has a little bit of everything crime/drugs/sex/family abuse. It is a VERY dark and gory story. I couldn't stop reading. I just needed more and more of it. I really think that Liza and her sister should have been taken out of the care of their mother. Liza is a very strong person. She really did everything to keep her sister and herself safe.

I totally recommend this to true crime fans. Fans of True Crime will not be disappointed or regretful.

Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my review.

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Impressed with the structure and approach of this true crime book. Happy to feature it in my current Lives Lived memoir/biography themed roundup for Zoomer magazine’s Books section. See link for full feature article and text.

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