Cover Image: Helltown

Helltown

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Member Reviews

I’ve not read a true crime book in a very long time. Helltown and the events it describes were unknown to me, which made it hard not to Google search those captured in this narrative. The writing style was fantastic and something different than I anticipated with a true crime novel. I felt like the author held my hand while he described and narrated the horrible events (which helped someone who does not enjoy graphic details of murder.) I would definitely recommend.
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Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks for this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

This book was a captivating look inside the mind of serial killer Antone "Tony" Costa. He was a popular drug dealer  nicknamed "Sire" by his hippie drug disciples, and a vicious serial killer who lived in Provincetown, MA. He was smart, charming, good looking, and very well-spoken gentleman who had a dangerous alter ego named "Cory." 

Tony was charged with the murders of Patricia Walsh and Mary Anne Wysocki, two young women from Providence, RI who came to Helltown for a getaway. He is also suspected of killing Sydney Monzon, Susan Perry, and Christine Gallant. One of Tony's favorite books was "Manual of Taxidermy for Amateurs." His killings were brutal and used that manual as a guide while dismembering his victims' bodies. 

Going into this book, I thought it was going to be just about the serial killer, Tony Costa, but this book had other elements to it, such as a snapshot into the lives of famous writers, Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer. Both Vonnegut and Mailer were living in Provincetown when Tony Costa was arrested for murder and ultimately became fascinated by his brutal acts. This book also touched on a Kennedy cover-up, what life was like in the 1960s in regards to drugs, the war, and the hippie lifestyle.

I thought this book was really well researched by the author, and I loved the interesting look into Kurt Vonnegut's life and the meaning behind his book, Slaughterhouse Five. I felt there was a lot of gruesome details about the deceased victims of Tony Costa that could have been left out. 

If you're a true crime lover who wants to learn about a serial killer you have never heard of then, I would recommend this book to you. 

3.5 stars/5 stars --- rounded up to 4 stars for my posted reviews.
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Hell Town is the untold story of a serial killer on cape cod. By Casey Sherman. 

I went into this book having already known of Tony Costa, aka the Cape Cod Serial Killer, aka the Cape Cod Vampire, and his crimes in and around Truro, Massachusetts between 1968 & 1969. 

If you are like me, and like to research deeper into the lives and crimes of these monsters, and learn more about the victims of their crimes, I highly recommend that you read Hell Town. 

Thanks to @netgalley @sourcebookscasa @sourcebooks for the ARC. 

#truecrime #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #arc #serialkillerstories #capecodvampire #capecodserialkiller #caseyshermanwrites #truecrimestory #kindlepaperwhite #netgalley #sourcebooks
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Selling Pitch:
Do you want to read about a serial killer on Cape Cod? Do you prefer your true crime as a sensationalized story rather than a strict report of the facts? Can you tolerate rampant misogyny?

Pre-reading:
Local true crime? We love. 

Thick of it:
Immediately turned off by the structure of this. 

Was this written by a thesaurus? 

That name is an immediate red flag, c’mon.

Good outfit, ma’am. 

It’s almost giving passive voice with the like ridiculous exposé by thought. Like you just wouldn’t be thinking of all those facts in the moment. It almost reads like an eighth-grade paper, and I don’t know why, but it’s an eighth-grade paper. I’ve just pinpointed it; it’s all telling and no showing. 

I had to Google muntins. 

Is an Oldsmobile a real type of car? It just sounds so fake. Like who would want to name a new car old? Although I guess we all buy faux vintage tees. 

I should probably add Slaughterhouse Five to my classics to read list, but I never like them, and I always just suffer through them out of pure stubbornness. 

I don’t know if these insufferable analogies are something these old authors have said or if it’s something cringey that this author has added, but, either way, I hate it. 

The tense in this book makes no sense. It reads like it’s supposed to be from the perspective of the characters, but it’s an omniscient narrator to the point that we get exposés on their past and future at the same time and it’s just annoying. 

Feel like the word choice for this poor girl’s rape and murder was very poor. Don’t make it sexy or titillating. He raped and murdered her. It just feels disrespectful. 

It just sounds like he’s contaminating the crime scene lol. 

I really don’t like how they’ve chosen to describe the crimes against these women. It just feels like they’re trying to make it sexy, and there’s nothing sexy about it. 

Plot twist-women have never felt safe ever. 

It’s not that I hate male writers. I just hate their perspective 🙃

See but like zero tolerance on sex crimes would prevent so, so, so many of these killers. 

A horrible, horrible way to describe the wife. She’s 13. She’s a child. She didn’t relinquish anything, you ass. 

Disrespectful to Ptown. It’s a haven for a lot of people. 

See he’s going for titillation and horror by conflating a murderer’s sexual excitement over an autopsy with eating gooey egg yolks. It’s not respectful to the victims, and it’s going to be some masturbatory bullshit for the freaks still out there. 

It’s not a masterpiece. It’s just sad. I repeat, you ass. 

I think this book is so obsessed with men’s personal careers that it distracts from the crimes and actual victims. 

Oh, he only stabbed his wife, but we’ll allow him a career. God, I hate it here. 

Oh my god, is that where the show comes from? That’s gross. Stop trying to make harming women sexy. There’s nothing sexy about it. 

I don’t understand how this book is only half over. 

Love that her only description is feminist and yet she’s putting herself behind the political campaign of a man who stabs his wife. Doesn’t make sense. 

Protect your family from harm-dude, you’re the one causing them harm. I really hate this author’s speculation on all these awful dudes’ feelings because it’s just coming across as his own misogynistic views. 

He didn’t “have sex” with the girls. He raped them. The language in this book is so disappointing. 

That man did not actually say that, did he? How does he have any kind of career?

It’s giving Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 

I don’t know, infamous asshole white men writing together-not shocking. 

He’s an astrology girl now. 

Disrespectful victim descriptions continue.

To be fair to this book, I am learning lots, but I also could’ve learned it from anyone because I went in knowing nothing about the subject entirely. I do like the context placement of the current events and how it relates to where in the murder it is. I think that’s a smart thing that the book’s done, but I’m very frustrated by the disrespect it has for women. If you’re truly sympathetic to the victims, why aren’t you ragging on these men this whole book? Instead, it’s coming across as propaganda in favor of them. 

This book repeats itself a lot. 

The more quotes I read, the more I want Vonnegut to go fuck himself. 

You know I did say it was giving Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Hi, Manson. 

And his only reckoning is preachy and cheesy. Gr8. 

She’s a victim and she just wants to remain anonymous he says as he writes an extended scene about her. 

Do juries actually go on field trips like this? I thought everything took place in a courtroom, but I don’t really know anything about law. 

So I’ve not read Slaughterhouse Five. I didn’t know it had aliens. I thought it was about a fire station. But every time I read his alien planet name I think of the drugs temezapine and tramadol. 

I think one of my big issues with this book is that I don’t know enough about these people in real life to know if these are actual quotes or the author embellishing. 

In no way are those girls grateful that someone raped and murdered them. To even suggest such a thing is disgusting. 

Disrespectful description. And like that one’s definitely not a quote. That’s the author’s choice to describe it that way, and that’s gross. 

Poor kitty. 

Oh man, the flies on the Cape are brutal. 

OK so yeah it is heavily embellished. I’m reading the author’s note now. 

It’s not subtle Tarantino if I immediately pick up on it and have almost no reference for any other Tarantino bit. 

Now this book is extra annoying and feels extra presumptuous and very ego-stroking narcissism which is just so inappropriate for a book about dead girls. The case is being used once again for a man’s career. Like, don’t you find that gross? You spend the whole book talking about how these men use the case to make their careers, and then it’s exactly what you’re doing by writing this book and sensationalizing it. Is that not gross to you?

Wow, Vonnegut is a self-aggrandizing dick. And that’s not how the author took the letter, cool. He’s got way too much sympathy for this asshole. 

I don’t want this to be television. Actually, let me clarify. This case-great tv potential. An adapatiatipm true to the voice of this book? Toxic. 


Post-reading:
This is so hard to rate objectively. 

Let’s start with the good. I knew nothing about the case coming into this and have zero knowledge of history or classic authors, so learned so much. Love that. Love learning. Organizationally it’s well constructed when you’re attempting to join together so many different viewpoints and make it cohesive. With no prior knowledge about the case, it seems super far-fetched to be talking about some famous writers, and Manson and the space race, but they’re all weirdly related and eventually, it works. You just have to be patient and push through the feeling of ‘what the fuck does this have to do with anything.’ It’ll get there. 

All that being said, I find a lot of the language chosen in this book to be careless and downright offensive when it comes to the victims. And it’s very editable and changeable language. It’s not quotes or assumed perspective from these warped men; it’s the author’s own little embellishments. Just so inappropriate and it completely turned me off from the book. It’s absolutely wild to me that you can spend so much of this book talking about how all these men were invested in the case for their own personal gain and career growth to the point that they didn’t care about the victims, and then go on to do exactly the same yourself. You specifically had a point in the book where you went out of your way to detail a victim that wanted to be anonymous and had the gall to presume her feelings on the matter. Additionally, some of the characters’ speculations are appalling. Characters should not wonder if girls were happy to be raped and killed because it meant they would go to heaven without consequence. It’s very presumptuous to essentially put these offensive words into these other men’s mouths under the guise of a true and factual story. That’s not what this is anymore. The structure of this book turned me off at the beginning just because I prefer my true crime to be more fact-based and report style than embellished into a narrative story. I also think it reads too much like propaganda for these shitty, shitty men. Then to go on and praise them in your author’s note? I feel sorry for your daughters that you know these men say such awful things about women and then you continue to sing their praises. That’s shit. Do better. 

I’m genuinely stuck between a two star and a three star for this book. Emotionally, I’m at a two star because it made me so angry. But the writing itself isn’t bad. The construction is good. The story does work. It’s a bit of a slog to read, but you do just learn so much. I’m not sure if I would feel that way if I had prior knowledge about this case. 

Actually, I just realized that the final murder detailed in this book is complete speculation. And this fucking man thought up a lesbian sex scene where she gets murdered even though there’s no evidence for it. That’s gross. Gross. 

My final thought on this book is that murder isn’t sexy, and men need to stop trying to make it sexy. 

To properly do this review I put on one of my favorite true crime podcasts that did an episode on the case. It’s already more detailed than the book and told in such a better way. This book has left out so many of his bad interactions with women. I’m so displeased. 

Who should read this:
True crime fans
New England natives

Do I want to reread this:
No.  

Similar books:
* American Predator by Maureen Callahan-true crime serial killer book
* True Crime Stories You Won’t Believe by Romeo Vitelli-true crime case summaries
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Even though I was a teen during this time - I missed this story.  All the other "incidents" I remember well.  This was a good story - a little long and very wordy - but if you stick through the first parts - it picks up.  

Very graphic and explicit in places - but a good read for the true crime or history buff.
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I enjoy true crime stories. I'd never heard of Tony Costa (he killed himself before I was born) but I found this story interesting. Dark and decidedly disturbing, it is a long chronicle of his murderous deeds and the people who ultimately profited from his story.
I found most of the chapters about Vonnegut and Mailer extraneous and pointless; they only really became relevant once Costa was on trial. Overall, I feel this book could have been better written and probably 250 pages shorter or as an hour long podcast episode and it would be a more palatable read/listen.
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Loved it. Not only is this a true crime book, but it does something I love in books - it describes what was going on in the world at the same time to round out and give a broader picture of the event. It also brings two of the most famous US authors in the last 50 years as they are involved in the coverage of the subject of the book as well as fascinating details into their lives and careers. I had no idea about this killer nor did I know much about these authors during this timeframe. Chefs kiss! Thanks to Sourcebooks for the copy of this well-researched, well-written interesting book.
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For the past several days,  due to fortunate happenstance (convergence of release dates), I have read a fictional "true crime" narrative, a Multigenerational family saga literary novel with Supernatural horror and empowered women, then a true crime Nonfiction of the 1960's (fondly may we remember) identifying the serial killer of the time who terrorized Provincetown, Massachusetts (and aren't there some important lessons in this). I've also strolled through Memory Lane, specifically counterculture,  police brutality,  the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention,  the dread assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy,  among many other events that laid foundation stones for America today. We also learn of the one-sided rivalry of authors Kurt Vonnegut and Literary Lion Norman Mailer. 
.
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I really enjoy reading true crime even if it’s a case I’m already familIar with. Growing up close to Cape Cod I was excited to read Helltown because I knew nothing about the so called “Cape Cod Vampire”. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy via NetGalley & Sourcebooks. While the facts of the case and the extensive chapters regarding the trial were well written and informative, I was not a fan of the author’s choice to fictionalize parts of the narrative. I would have rated the book higher had the author not included exhaustive chapters concerning social issues of the time that had. very little connection to Costa’s crimes, and anything to do with Mailer, Vonnegut and Lawson which I felt slowed the book down taking the story in an unnecessary direction. I also felt the author was too gory/brutal in the way he described the initial deaths of the women Costa killed but was more delicate with their descriptions during the trial chapters. Overall, when you remove the chapters concerning the three authors and the social issues, the story is strong, leaves nothing to imagination and no stone unturned. Based on the author’s note the book is being developed into a mini series and I think the author’s fictionalization will thrive in that format and I look forward to watching it.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for gifting me a digital ARC of this true crime book by Casey Sherman - 4 stars.

In the late 1960s, in Provincetown, MA, a killer is on the loose and women are disappearing.  Charismatic Tony Costa seems to allude suspicion but is eventually the leading suspect.  Tony has a group of followers, in young women who call him Sire and believe in witchcraft.  Add to this that authors Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut are living in Provincetown and are rivals, both somewhat obsessed with Tony's story.  

I love true crime (no matter what that may say about me!) and thought this book told the story of Tony Costa well.  But it definitely blurred the lines between fact and fiction.  Plus it was very long and I'm not sure how much the story of the famous authors really added to the narrative and may cause people to lose interest, especially in the beginning when everything is coming together.  But it kept me intrigued and wanting to read to the end, despite the very graphic descriptions of the crimes.
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2.5 stars rounded up. A long, well-researched, and gory overview of Cape Cod serial killer Tony Costa that loses its strength from excessive tangents that draw out the page count and take you out of the narrative.

I think this book will be the book-of-reference for serial killer Tony Costa, just as "Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders" serves that purpose for Charles Manson. I'm surprised that there hasn't been a deep dive on Costa to date, and this book certainly is well-researched, with the extensive page count to prove it. But there was much about this book that was not to my taste, including the completely unnecessary tangents on the Norman Mailer vs. Kurt Vonnegut rivalry, the extensive anecdotes setting the socio-cultural scene of Provincetown, counterculture movements, and crime in the 1970s, and the fabricated conversations between Costa and his victims. 

For those who enjoy disturbing nonfiction (myself included), the sections on Tony Costa and descriptions of his crimes might be compelling - they are certainly gruesome and graphic. If you'd like a toned-down overview of Costa, "The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer" was my first introduction to him and might be a good alternative. 

Thank you to Sourcebooks for the ARC via Netgalley.
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💭 ᴍʏ ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛꜱ:
This was 100% too long for me. I was very intrigued by Tony’s story and the details of the trial, which kept me invested. But I didn’t love the writers sub-story as it made the book incredibly long and I just didn’t find it interesting. I thought the story from Tony’s perspective was incredible done but the trial kinda repeated everything again. Overal I did believe it was interesting, just a bit too long and repetitive. Caution: it describes in very gruesome detail how all these murders were done. 
⭐️⭐️

🤓 ʀᴇᴀᴅ ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜ ʟɪᴋᴇ:
Historical Fiction
True Crime
Detailed crime scenes

ꜱʏɴᴏᴘꜱɪꜱ:
1969: 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘪𝘱𝘱𝘪𝘦 𝘴𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘷𝘪𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘵𝘰𝘸𝘯. 𝘛𝘰𝘯𝘺 𝘊𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘢 𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘪𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘭. 𝘛𝘰 𝘢 𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘱 𝘰𝘧 𝘴𝘮𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯, 𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘢𝘴 𝘚𝘪𝘳𝘦―𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳-𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘬𝘴 𝘦𝘭𝘰𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘶𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘰𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘤 𝘥𝘳𝘶𝘨𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘺. 𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘣𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘯 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘢 𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢 𝘵𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘳𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘬 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘮𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵. 𝘛𝘰𝘯𝘺 𝘊𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘢 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘥𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘰𝘯 𝘊𝘢𝘱𝘦 𝘊𝘰𝘥, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘯𝘰 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘤𝘳𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘴 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘩 𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘢𝘧𝘦.

𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘣𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘳, 𝘊𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘢'𝘴 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘭 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘮𝘢 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘴 𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘩𝘪𝘮 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘴𝘶𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘰𝘯. 𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘤𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘰𝘯 𝘩𝘪𝘮 𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘬𝘦𝘺 𝘴𝘶𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵. 𝘔𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘦, 𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘒𝘶𝘳𝘵 𝘝𝘰𝘯𝘯𝘦𝘨𝘶𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘕𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘔𝘢𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘭𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘴 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘪𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴―𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘣𝘰𝘵𝘩 𝘴𝘦𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘛𝘰𝘯𝘺 𝘊𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘢 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘳𝘶𝘨-𝘴𝘰𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘩𝘪𝘱𝘱𝘪𝘦 𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘶𝘣𝘫𝘦𝘤𝘵.
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It was an interesting book as it's a true crime but the author did a good job in describing the historical setting and the how famous writers talked about it.
It's not a book for faint of heart as it can be a bit too gruesome.
It was an interesting and gripping read.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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In the late 1960s, Providencetown, Massachusetts attracts hippies and maintains a rather tolerant attitude—until three young women disappear over the course of a year. The first, assumed to be a drifter, was thought to have traveled to California, but the others, in Providencetown for a winter weekend getaway, were looked for by their families who pressured the authorities to launch a search.

Tony Costa—known as Sire to his acolytes and those who bought drugs from him—was not only articulate, he was a confidential informant. At first, no one could imagine him involved in violent crimes. But once the police discovered the mutilated bodies of the women and started tracking their movements, Costa became their prime suspect. 

𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘵𝘰𝘸𝘯 by Casey Sherman recounts the crimes themselves, investigation, and trial, as well as how both Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer, local writers, leveraged Costa’s crimes in a battle to establish their literary legacy. Sherman conducted extensive research, and he doesn’t flinch at including the difficult and gory details of the murders. 

Sherman also augmented the account with theoretical characters—particularly three female followers similar to Charles Masons’ family. This enhanced the readability but made it difficult to determine the line between fact and fiction in the book.

For quotes and Costa’s internal dialogue, Sherman relied on an unpublished manuscript Costa wrote in prison. Any autobiography is going to be biased, so I wish this had been presented with more caution. Additionally, Costa didn’t use contractions, and it made the conversations in the book very awkward.

I think most of the material on Vonnegut and Mailer was drawn from published sources, and I was surprised by the history between the authors, but I’m undecided as to whether it added to this particular book. 

For inspiration, Sherman cited 𝘖𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘜𝘱𝘰𝘯 𝘢 𝘛𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘏𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘺𝘸𝘰𝘰𝘥 by Quentin Tarantino, so if you like what the author calls fact told through fiction, check this out.
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I am a lover of true crime and used to watch the ID Channel every day. I started reading true crime novels and found I enjoy it more than watching TV.

Serial killers have always fascinated me. I know there are a lot I haven't heard of and Tony Costa is one I know little to nothing about.  If you enjoy true crime and serial killers you NEED this one.

It flows and reads like fiction. Really captivating and immersive writing. You get Tony's POV (which is freakish and mind-boggling) AND during this time Kurt Vonnegut was struggling with his writing career and we get to see into his world. We also get snippets into Norman Mailer's realm of craziness which is just wow LOL. I really enjoyed the differing POVs and how the vastly different worlds, collided. You'll have to read to see what I mean.

Tony Costa is one sick puppy and again shows just how "normal" someone may seem but on the inside?  A whole other twisted and mangled up world and sense of being. Whew....Horror books and movies  don't hold a candle to this type of evil. 

This may be a 400+ page book, but it definitely doesn't read like one. Go...grab...this! I sincerely appreciate Sourcebooks and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy. All opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.
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As chilling as one would expect for a true crime book, while also being readable & gripping, Helltown is a must-read for anyone looking for a shock.

HELLTOWN

MV rating: 7/10
• there are two storylines in this one following the Cape Cod killer, and simultaneously the race of two well known authors to secure the story. 
• I am a self-professed true crime junkie, and this books was like reading a favorite podcast. 
•Simultaneously informative and engaging, I think this might be the most digestible nonfiction crime book I’ve read - it’s gruesome, and definitely not for the faint of heart, but the borderline fictional way the book is written makes it more palatable IMO.
• This book is full of TW’s and gore that will turn stomachs - be warned in advance that this is not a thriller fiction book.
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I haven't read anything by Casey Sherman before, but being a true crime junkie, I had to give Helltown a chance. I was a big Ann Rule fan and have never really found another true crime author that can replace her...

That said, this was an interesting, well-written book. I do think it was overly gruesome, and that's coming from someone who devours books in this genre. That aspect and a little bit of a laggy sensation in parts is what kept this review from being a 5. 

If you are someone who likes to read true crime, you should give this a try. Personally I'll be looking forward to more by this author. 

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and author for an ARC at my request.
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I enjoy reading True Crime stories because they are intriguing, but this one was at times confusing to me. I feel that some of the story was fiction and other parts were true. The story was interesting but not sure if I like the way it was done.


I received a complimentary copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.
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Wow! What an absolutely great read this was! Once I started it, it was so hard to put down. This is my first book by this author, and I will definitely be reading more. Great story!!!
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A true crime novel set in the turbulent 1960s, Helltown by Casey Sherman kept me turning pages. The author painted a visceral picture of the chaos and horror that evolved in a small community during difficult and emotional times. Fear, violence, drugs, hippies, politics...  this novel has it all. A thoroughly disturbing read!
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