Cover Image: Helltown


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Massive True Crime addict and I had never heard of this case! Which I love because that means I get to dive into a new crime and learn everything about it!
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An interesting read on a serial murder I wasn't aware of previously. I found the murders and people involved less of a star than the location and the procedures, but it wasn't bad. The addition of fictional elements made it seem a bit like one of those re-enactment TV shows. 

Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the copy to read and review.
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Well, this wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. I love reading about serial killers, suspense and thriller fiction and nonfiction. Helltown seems to be a cross between them. It reminds me of the way recreations are done on TV, and I did do some web searching to check on some of the facts. It covers more than the murders. It’s about the 1960s, Cape Cod, Provincetown, the drug culture, hippies…

I have been traveling to the Cape for more than twenty years and I love it. You know exactly where you are by your surroundings, a unique and beautiful place. So many familiar places, I couldn’t help but smile as we drove the roads, ate in the restaurants and…

Can definitely see how far we have advanced when it comes to investigating a murder and how many more tools we have at our disposal.

The police, Kudos to them. Once they established a murder had taken place, they worked together tying the knot around Costa’s neck.

Even though there were fictional elements thrown in, I loved the way it was written. Easy to read, flowing smoothly.

I think a lot of people may have trouble with the recreations and suppositions, and that is why I didn’t rate this higher. It is supposed to be true crime, but it was written like a fictional novel. It was more about the times and the Cape than only a serial killer.

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Helltown by Casey Sherman.
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Helltown is a must read. Although it is a gruesome story, it is fascinating how the mind of a serial killer works. Tony Costa murdered 2 girls in Provincetown Ma , but that is only the beginning. Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut are  also inProvincetown writing their new books and both are fascinated with Tony Costa and leading their own investigations. The author writes in a fluent and intriguing manor as he has in his other true crime stories. It is a book you can’t put down.!
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Helltown by Casey Sherman

In Helltown, readers learn about the horrific actions of Tony Costa in Provincetown, Massachusetts in the late 1960s. We also learn about two influential writers of the time who were living in the area and affected by Costa and his needless murders on several woman. The book ties it all up in the end with the trial of Costa and course of his jail sentence and all the numerous outliers who were affected by the murders and the trials in the small town.

While it was interesting read, it was extremely graphic when it came to the actual murders. Obviously this is a true crime novel, so I didn't expect it to shy away from the acts, it just caught me a bit by surprise at times. The inclusion of Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer felt very strange to me. This is the first book that I have read by Sherman, perhaps this is what he always does, but it felt like those moments were just filler on the book instead of crucial to the story. I liked how much research that he had performed to really get the true essence of Costa, and felt like I knew more about him and his motivations by the end of the book, but I just felt like maybe the inclusion of Mailer and Vonnegut were a bit over-sensationalized and unnecessary. Regardless, I did finish the book, albeit it took a while to get through some of the rather muddy information provided. 

I received a review copy from SOURCEBOOKS via NetGalley and I voluntarily provided an honest review. This does not affect the opinion of the book or the content of the review.
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I love true-crime, so was super excited to review a copy of this from netgalley to review.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed. Yes, the killings and story were gruesome and unreal to read about, but the story lacked in the way it was told.

A lot of the parts made little sense, like the author didn't actually know anything about what was going on. It felt insanely made up and fictionalized, when I love the deep nitty gritty aspects of a good true crime novel that leave you shivery in your shoes.

Could have been so much better, overall disappointed.
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This true crime story takes place in Provincetown, Massachusetts, locally known as Ptown. Tony Costa is an outgoing pleasant young man on the outside, but inner turmoil has turned him into a vicious killer. At the same time as young females are going missing., Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut are competing for writing rights and each follows the movements of Tony Costa.
I do love to read true crime, but I did find this book a slow read, as the author went into great detail of  both Mailer and Vonnegut and this took away from the main storyline, in my opinion.
I do thank the author, publisher and Netgalley for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Two words to describe this book, Holy Crap! I liked the time period and the two authors trying to get the stories for themselves. I love true crime and can’t believe I never heard this story before! Thank you for this great ARC.
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Casey Sherman has written a novel that combines historical facts along with a bit of fiction.
It involves three writers ( Vonnegut, Mailer, and Lawson) along with a serial killer, TonyCosta. All in there small town during the same time period.
The murders are gruesome and factual, the writers obsession is also true. Some dialogue is by necessity imagined.
Well written, although there were times I was unsure where the book was going. I won’t say it was enjoyable…far too gruesome for that, but I was compelled to keep reading. For that, I will say it is recommended. 
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this ARC
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This true crime story with fictionalized elements by Casey Sherman was challenging for me to finish. The main plot is the story of Tony Costa, who brutally murdered and dismembered at least four young women in Provincetown during the 1960s. Seemingly out-of-the-blue side stories about Vonnegut, Mailer, the Apollo 11 moon launch, Chappaquiddick, the Manson murders, and more create a disjointed structure. I supposed throughout that these stories are included to provide context and imply that Costa’s depravity resides in humans in various forms, but I was never clear about their exact connection to the main story. A scene at the end provided some clue, but I later learned from the author’s note that this part was fictional.

Sherman’s writing style is also puzzling. The staccato account sometimes reads like a sensational news story, sometimes like fiction, with some awkward grammatical constructions here and there, such as “Unlike the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Vonnegut would not remain on the sidelines….” Maybe the initial phrase is missing a preposition, but the author is literally comparing a convention to a person.  

The book is very well researched, but there are almost too many details. A whole chapter on Chappaquiddick included Mary Jo’s approximate weight and exact address and Kennedy’s exact initial statement, just too much unnecessary information.

And, finally, I found off putting the author’s clear interjection of his own feelings towards the characters in this grisly tale. His disdain for some of the attorneys, the landlady, Vonnegut and Mailer, and many others comes through clearly in the narration and seems a bit arrogant.

True crime diehards may find this thorough telling of a relatively unknown serial killer compelling, but it just wasn’t for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. My review is voluntary and reflects my honest opinion.
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3 1/2

Casey Sherman’s Helltown not only explores serial killer, Tony Costa, but weaves into the mix writers Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut who were living on Cape Cod at the time and write about the murders.

I found the involvement and lives of Mailer and Vonnegut to be almost as interesting as the true crime story but did think that the author sometimes reached a bit too far by adding in sections on Kennedy and Chappaquiddick (interesting information, but only peripherally related to the the topic) and the Charles Manson killing spree. As I neared the end of the book, I had the unfortunate observation that this is interesting stuff but it goes on and on.

Tony Costa was a drug dealer, thief, and sometime carpenter who killed small pets and other creatures before moving on to human beings. He was convicted of killing two women who were visiting Provincetown, MA from Rhode Island and was suspected in the deaths of three other women. That number is probably larger since he spent time in California and at least one California acquaintance of his was never seen again. The descriptions of what he did to the women was graphic and gruesome and I may have (I did, I did!) skipped over reading details.

In the present day, we are so used to all of the science that goes into police investigations that it’s fascinating to return to a time when cases weren’t solved by DNA testing and also a little frustrating. And also, what people said to each other and how they behaved would give the politically correct police aneurysms. People were not all sweetness and light as people who fondly look toward the past would have you believe. These things alone make for illuminating reading.

For the most part Helltown kept me interested but I had two gripes. The first–Sherman’s use of dialogue–annoyed me because of how stilted it sounded, not at all like real conversation. He obtained some from interviews, but it’s unclear as to whether he made some of it up or not. The second was including fiction. Perhaps Sherman was inspired by both Vonnegut and Mailer, who created fictions in their non-fiction, to include people/scenes birthed from his imagination but when I learned that certain scenes were fabricated, I was disappointed. The characters and scenes felt like part of the true narrative but they weren’t true. Did I wish I had known that there might be a helping of fiction in this true crime before I began reading? Probably. I think it would have lessened the disappointment I felt at the end. But at least now you’re warned.

All in all an interesting book about a serial killer and two brilliant but difficult writers.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Was not able to download before the book was archived. I requested the book from my library as this is something that is right up my true crime loving alley and I'm excited to read it. I have heard really good things about it and I cannot wait to be able to read it. Not much more I can say but need to fill the box with words as there is a 100 character requirement. I hope everyone is having a lovely day and that you decide to read this book. There. I hope this makes the 100 character count.

Welp it did not so now I need to write more words just words to get this done. I wish that I would have still been able to read it but I was not able to............have to give a 3 rating here since I didn't read it. Can't give it a 5 and don't want to give it a 1 so middle of the road it is. I will put the real score on Goodreads
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I'm debating whether or not to finish this book - I'm at 25% now, and losing interest. Much of the first quarter of this book is devoted to the rivalry between Mailer and Vonnegut, and what I learned is that Vonnegut once was a partner in a Saab dealership. This reads much like fiction, with the author making up thoughts and conversations of the killer and his followers. Thanks for the ARC, Netgalley and Sourcebooks, but this just isn't for me.
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My thanks to NetGalley for making this book available for me to read/review, and I can state my review is impartial and voluntary.

Helltown is a combination of journalistic reporting and narrative storytelling as explained by the author Casey Sherman.  It is based on the real life murders by Antone "Tony" Costa that happened in the late 1960s, most of them in the Cape Cod area.  But there were likely other victims of Costa whose cases and disappearances remain unsolved.

The novel is highly engaging and keeps the reader in suspense.  It is also very graphic, with gruesome details of the murders of several victims, detective findings, interviews and autopsy reports.  As such, some readers will find this book disturbing.

The book focuses on the adult life of Tony Costa, a deranged psychopath that is in to all kinds of drugs, the occult, taxidermy, sexual perversions, and delusions.  How much of this was influenced by the drugs, pot, hash and LSD that Costa is constantly consuming and how much was his pure evil is left to the reader.

Costa is eventually connected to at least four grisly murders (all young women) and the case draws interest and fear from the Provincetown/Cape Cod residents.   Two of the more famous residents are Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer, both writers who take an interest in the case and hope to parley the events in to their writings--either as books or in Vonnegut's case an essay in Life magazine.  The back and forth of these two authors is an interesting sidebar to the main storyline, but also a bit distracting in my view.  

Add to this the fact that the storyline centers on the events in 1968-69, which were months of constant change and revolution.  I lived through all of this as growing up in the 1960s but for those who were not there here's a few pivotal events that were happening while these murders were taking place:  The Vietnam War, assassinations of MLK and RFK (1968), Apollo 11 mission to the moon (1969), the Charles Manson murders, and the Ted Kennedy/Chappaquiddick event that resulted in the death of Mark Jo Kopechne.  All of these events are discussed in Helltown.  

In short there is a lot going on in this book and I give it a 4-Star review.  If you like true crime and historical fiction this is a good fit.  For me it was a bit ambitious and at times drifted a bit (especially all the details on Vonnegut/Mailer).  But it was still  a very interesting and compelling read,  Thanks again for the opportunity to read and review..
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I love anything true crime, and was very excited to read this one. Though I did enjoy it, it was a little hard to read and didn’t quite grab me like I had hoped.
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I'm a really big true crime enthusiast, and Helltown doesn't disappoint. Wonderfully written, using both primary source citation and tantalizing storytelling, I would recommend this book to any true crime reader. It took me quite a while to tie the beginning parts of the story about Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer into the story of the murders. I still think those pieces are unresolved and a little unnecessary. The story was great without them and flowed better. My compliments to the author for a well researched case that was presented in an intriguing way.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for providing me with a digital copy for review. The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of the author or publisher.
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HellTown: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer on Cape Cod by Casey Sherman

Published: July 12, 2022
Pages: 509
Genre: True Crime Non-Fiction 
KKECReads Rating: 3/5
I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily. 

Casey Sherman is a New York Times Bestselling Author of 13 books, including The Finest Hours, Boston Strong, Animal & Hunting Whitey. Casey Sherman is also the author of 12, Search for the Strangler, Animal, Bad Blood, Black Irish, Black Dragon, Above & Beyond, and The Ice Bucket Challenge. Casey Sherman is a graduate of Barnstable High School (Cape Cod), Fryeburg Academy (Fryeburg, Me.), and Boston University.

“And our search is only beginning.”

Tony Costa is the cause of nightmares in his hometown, still to this day. His actions and the spectacle he caused have left a dark mark. Yet, many may not know what Tony Costa did. This is his story.

This was written in a fictionalized style yet based on facts. While certain elements may have been rearranged to serve the storytelling, the contents of this novel are accurate. 

There was a lot to unpack in this book. This was like three books thrown into one with how the narrative jumped around. It reminded me of In Cold Blood, which I did not enjoy.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but this was different from any other true crime novel I have read. The fictionalized method of telling the story was interesting but left much room for interpretation and opinion. 

The thing I enjoy about true crime is the facts. I enjoy following the evidence and getting the play-by-play of what happened. This was more sensationalized than that.

Tony Costa was a monster, who committed atrocities against women. I do wish the story had focused more on him, and less on the fire between Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut. 

There were times throughout this novel I wasn’t sure what I was reading. The writing was good, and the facts and research were there. But this isn’t a novel I will recommend.
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Thank you for the book Helltown in exchange for my honest review. 

With the gripping title, the creepy cover and the terrorizing synopsis, I thought this book would shake me to my core. However, I found myself less than enthused as I read this book. It may have been the way the author wrote the book, but Helltown felt like a textbook from high school. The premise is catching but the content just wasn’t there for me.
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This book was slightly different from what I was expecting, but enjoyed it nonetheless.  I thought it would solely be about the serial killer of Cape Cod. but there was a lot of other background information about the 60s, Cape Cod, etc. At first I found the chapters about Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut rather random (and boring compared to a serial killer). I did understand why the author included them but wish they were shorter. 

There were times, especially with the inner dialogue that made me question the. nonfiction validity but found it made the retelling interesting. Overall, if you like true crime then this a great. easy read. 

TW: violence, abuse, drug use, rape, murder
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I love true crime but for some reason I could not get in to this book. The writing and story were fine it just did not grab me.
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