Cover Image: Helltown


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Thanks to Sourcebooks for sharing this ARC. Although I usually enjoy true crime stories, I didn’t find this book engaging. I’m not sure if I could pinpoint why but by the 1/2 point, I no longer cared to read any more about Tony Castro. So I did not finish.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC of, Helltown, by Casey Sherman.  This is such a sad and twisted story.  People are crazy, the murders in this book are gruesome.  I did not care for the swearing in the book though.
Was this review helpful?
I want to start with UGH!  disgusting, without any conscience this Costa was.

Its odd because I thought that writing this story in fiction form would not work, but I was okay with it.

Author throws us right away into the action and the pace keeps going until the end.

This book/guy makes Mason look like a choir boy.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you netgalley. I loved this book. Kept me interested from the jump. It’s something different from what I normally read, but I love a good crime story.
Was this review helpful?
Trigger warnings for all the gruesome discussion in this book. However, it was very interesting. I had never heard of Tony Costa before but I definitely will remember him after this book.
Was this review helpful?
Holy. Shit.

I don't usually like true crime but decided to give this book a try because the description was interesting. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed at all. Tony Costa was a gruesome killer and the murders that were explained in graphic detail made me put down the book at certain times but overall it was a totally gripping read! 

Would definitely recommend to any true crime fan and anyone looking to get into the genre! Can't wait to read more from Casey Sherman.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4/5 stars.
Was this review helpful?
DNF I am always interested in true crime and this sounded like an interesting case, but I found that the book was more dedicated to Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer. It isn't that I don't find the authors interesting, I'm a huge Vonnegut fan, and I know that they were supposed to all tie in to each other at the end, but I found myslef disappointed in the little the book seemed to focus on Tony Costa. The book also was written in kind of a disjointed way. I get where the author was going with this, but it was too little of what the subject of the book should be, and way too much of something else entirely.
Was this review helpful?
DNF. I rarely stop a book without finishing, but the clunky writing style combined with the heavy focus on Vonnegut/Mailer made this book impossible to continue.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely love true crime stories. Give me all the shows, podcasts and books! And this one is exactly what I was hoping for. 

I have never heard of Tony Costa and WOW I hope they talk about him more. This story was addicting! I loved the writing 

Definitely recommend to all fans of true crime. And the cover is amazing!!!
Was this review helpful?
Provincetown has been on my vacation wishlist for some time but I had never heard of this particular serial killer. Helltown started out well. I was getting a vibe reminiscent of Steven King’s 11/22/63 and liked it. At first I was intrigued by the mention of a few other characters from Costa’s time. The supporting characters began flying out of the woodwork in no time. Not only a dual personality for Costa but Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Senator Kennedy, Gore Vidal and even Charles Manson. I got the feeling the author knew the Costa story was weak and needed fleshing out with other characters and storylines. 

An author’s note later explains his method but it just didn’t work for me and left me feeling deceived. 

Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I often gravitate to Historical Fiction, in my writing as well as in my reading and infotainment choices.

This book contains the aftermath and graphic gore of a killer's rage, a recounting of a monster living and hunting amongst the residents of Provincetown Massachusettes. in the late 1960s.

I appreciate this author's effort to pull in relevant atmospheric details, high-profile people, and big events of the time.

There are some extremely disturbing descriptions in this book I wish were not a stark reflection of real events and that I could shake loose from my memory. A ghastly horror I wish no community would ever have to face.

I'd like to thank NetGalley for an advanced copy of Helltown for my unbiased evaluation. 3 stars

Expected release date: July 12, 2022
Was this review helpful?
Dnf @ 8% 

This book was incredibly graphic and I couldn’t read about it. I also didn’t care at all about the chapters with the writers. I’m sure it would have connected but it felt out of place.
Was this review helpful?
Helltown by Casey Sherman is a superb read with a well-drawn plot and vivid characters. A read well worth the time.
Was this review helpful?
This book just wasn't for me. As a lover of truce crime, this book felt far too fictionalized. The author took a lot of liberties when it came to speculating how the killer and victims felt. Therefore, this read much more like fiction than non-fiction. What I enjoy about true crime are the facts and details and less the feelings, so this did not work for me. 

Frankly, I also did not care about the dueling authors that were so heavily focused on. I could have lived without any of their narratives. 

Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks for allowing me to review this advanced reader's copy.
Was this review helpful?
I really tried with this one because Costa's victims deserve to have their stories told. But the alternating chapters with Vonnegut/Mailer were not necessary in my opinion, though then I suppose the book would have been much shorter. I skimmed those chapters because I did not find them interesting or valuable to the real story. I also find it difficult to believe massive re-created conversations and don't believe they belong in a non-fiction text unless the original conversation was recorded word-for-word. A few lines of dialogue, sure. But long conversation? Nope. The book is marketed as non-fiction, then it should BE non-fiction. I was incredibly disappointed in this book, it was a jumbled mess, and I could not finish it despite several attempts.
Was this review helpful?
Tony Costa was a serial killer who achieved notoriety for committing serial murders in and around the Massachusetts town of Truro in 1969 during the time of the murders by Manson's The Family. Costa's crimes gained international attention when district attorney Edmund Dinis claimed "The hearts of each girl had been removed from the bodies and were not in the graves…Each body was cut into as many parts as there are joints." Dinis also claimed that there were teeth marks found on the bodies. These claims produced a stream of national and international media outlets into local Provincetown, Massachusetts. Dinis' role is detailed here as well as his prosecution of the Chappaquiddick incident involving Senator Ted Kennedy. Dinis brings in Chappaquiddick. Linda Kasabian's New England roots helps bring in The Manson Family and this is just some of the ornamentation on the tale. Rival writers Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. both wrote about this case. Mailer used it as a germ for Tough Guys Don't Dance and Vonnegut's reportage is anthologized in Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons. We get much more so that effectively biographies of both authors are interwoven in the book of over five hundred pages. The author also brings in imagined dialog between the killer and his alter ego. I started getting suspicious about this trio of witchy followers "Sadie, Thumper, and Strawberry Blonde". With a forthcoming account of the fictionalization here that I would rather have read in an Introduction, an Author’s Note in the backmatter admits that

Helltown is a work of fact told with elements of fiction storytelling. ...Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. were both obsessed with this case, although I recreated their dialogue and reimagined some scenarios with Costa’s so-called disciples. I have used my skills and decades of experience as a journalist and true crime writer to enter an area that Mailer had once mastered —new journalism. I was also inspired to break free from the shackles of strict reportage by the great thriller novelist James Patterson...

New Journalism is a style of news writing and journalism, developed in the 1960s and 1970s, that uses literary techniques unconventional at the time. It is characterized by a subjective perspective, a literary style reminiscent of long-form non-fiction using extensive imagery, reporters interpolate subjective language within facts and is exemplified by Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, Terry Southern, Gay Talese, and others. Personally, I don't think Sherman makes the grade. Indeed others do creative nonfiction true crime better from the killer's perspective IMHO, such as Ryan Green.

Ignoring the embellishments and focusing on the detailing of the crimes, this is I am sure the best and most detailed account one can find and based on thorough research:

...I also gained access to Costa’s unpublished manuscript, “Resurrection,” in which he described the murders as they happened while blaming them on his alter ego.

I did my own research (Google) and found this article which is a nice outline of the crimes as state trooper Edgar "Tom" Gunnery recalls participating in the investigation.
Was this review helpful?
A riveting portrayal of a true crime committed in the 1960s in Cape Cod.  The story combines facts of the murders and current happening of the times to immerse the reader - you are actually there.  If you are  a fan of true crime then this is the book for you.
Was this review helpful?
DNF - abandoned at 20%

Although I appreciated the Cape Cod history of the late 1960s and all the cultural references of the time, I just couldn’t get past the brutality of this serial killer. I particularly enjoyed the rivalry between Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut. But the chapters about Joe Costa and his murder sprees actually made me rather sick to my stomach. I decided to stop reading at 20% because it just wasn’t worth torturing myself anymore.
Was this review helpful?
This book was great, the characters were well developed.  The plot was interesting. Highly recommend it.
Was this review helpful?
Very interesting book. Love the history of Tony Costa and the look into the mind of a serial killer and psychopath. 4 stars because at times the book fell flat and failed to hold my attention, but at other times it was exciting and riveting. Overall, I really enjoyed this book
Was this review helpful?