Cover Image: Helltown

Helltown

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Member Reviews

Helltown is the first official true crime book I've read, and I'm glad I did. 
Thank you Sourcebooks and NetGalley for the digital review copy.
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If you are a fan of true crime and find the 1960’s of interest, this book is for you. Sherman creates a compelling story and crafts a tale that merges two key authors with a serial killer. 

The story of Tony Costa is brutal and his actions gut wrenching. The rivalry of Mailer and Vonnegut is fascinating and the intersection of the three was a book I couldn’t put down. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the author for an advance release copy in exchange for an honest review.
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A great deal of this book is about Kurt Vonnegut and Normal Mailer, two writers who apparently were obsessed with the Tony Costa case. Having background on them makes sense and add to the story. But, not this much. There are entire chapters dedicated to each man's life; their strengths and vices, their marital discord and struggling with finding their voices and their places in the world. That all belong in other books. It not only doesn't bolster this story, it detracts from it.

The book opens from Tony Costa's POV after he was imprisoned, and it was interesting and made me want to read more. It references the book he wrote, but we never get to see or read any of that book. That brief scene is all we get about him in prison, and there has to be a lot more to tell. How did this monster deal with being caged? How did he adapt to prison life, or given that he committed suicide, did he ever adapt?

The story that follows Costa and his victims is well done, and you find yourself on the edge of your seat, waiting for them to find the bodies and then figure out it is Costa. The political intrigue with the district attorney was also interesting and is definitely a part of the legal system that needs to be brought to light more.

Overall, I'm giving this book three stars because slogging through all of the unnecessary info on the two writers just took up too much time and was annoying. If 80% of that material was removed you would have a solid true crime story.
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**Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this title in exchange for a fair and honest review**

DNF @18%

I really wanted to get further with this book, I very rarely DNF but this was so dense and meticulously reserached that it felt like I was reading an academic paper. Maybe I didn't read the blurb properly when I requested it but I was expecting information about the investigation into the killer (perhaps that comes later), I wasn't expecting to wade through the thoughts of a serial killer during and after his crimes and to have chapters about 2 authors that felt completely unrelated to the plot.
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We travel back in time to the Age of Aquarius ♒. Hippies , drugs 💊, free love 💕, far out music 🎶 (Rolling Stones, Fifth Dimension, Beatles), ✌️ peace ☮️ and groovy times. Ah, the memories. 
During these happy times there was also evil lurking about. Serial killers ( Manson, Cape Cod Vampire, Zodiac Killer, Ted Bundy, Boston Strangler). 
Not many are aware of the Cape Cod Vampire, Tony Costa or the murders of Truor. 
The author takes us on a journey to learn more of Costa and how he butchered innocent women along with his side-kick Cory. His split personality and his obsession of necrophilia. The gruesome and gory details are not for the faint of heart.
Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. are dueling writers that lived near Costa. They give their perspective of Costa and how they got involved with the case.
 Thank you Netgalley and the author for a digital copy. Read and reviewed voluntarily and the opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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I read this book for free in exchange for my review. This book was about Tony Costa, the 60’s era Charles Manson. I had read a book about him previously and couldn’t wait to dive in to this one. This book follows Tony Costa and two writers who are trying to get to his story first. I would look up trigger warnings before diving into this. Tony Costa was by no means a gentle man 🥹!
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I judged a book by its cover and was blown away by the way Casey Sherman structured this book. This was everything I’ve ever wanted in a true crime novel! The author did an outstanding job researching the life of the gruesome serial killer, Tony Costa, and gave readers an inside look into the history of events that occurred in Cape Cod in the 1970’s. 

The author gave us a tour of Cape Cod and took us alongside Tony Costa, who was living the hippie lifestyle. He was charming, handsome, and women trusted him upon meeting him. He was an awful man with a sick mind that preyed on women and I’ll never stop thinking about what kind of person he was and what he did to those poor women. 

I had no idea who Tony Costa was upon reading this book and found myself completely obsessed with this novel. Now that I’ve finished reading, I want to go back and read it again but a little slower this time.
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Helltown takes the reader to Provincetown, Cape Cod Massachusetts in 1969. In the era of Charles Manson a charismatic young man, Tony Costa,  becomes the leader of a "cult" of women. Preaching about love, he is a serial killer.
 At that historical moment Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer are on the cape competing for the role of best author. 
Sherman takes us into the year and the pursuit of Costa. 
A spine tingling true crime story
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Whoa! What a ride. It was very fast-paced. The writing style kept me hooked and I didn't find myself losing any interest. I enjoyed getting to know each of the characters and how real the story felt. The author did a great job painting the setting, so it was easy for me to visualize the scene played out before me.  I recommend giving this one a chance!
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A very graphic but informative book. Very tragic to think of those young women losing their lives. It's sickening to this that someone could murder and dismember other people.
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A probing, engrossing study of a serial murder on Cape Cod, at approximately the same time as the events at Chappaquidiick and Ted Kennedy. The author does an impressive job of juggling different storylines, while keeping us involved in the twisted passions of the murderer and the hysteria his actions caused during one eventful year.. Recommended to true crime buffs.
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Fans of Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter will feel right at home with the new book Helltown. This true crime book is written in narrative form and follows serial killer Tony Costa,  who made his name as a violent killer. Hidden in plain side as an eloquent leader of the counter culture in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  People thought he was fantastic, as he handed out hallucinogenic drugs by the handful to locals.  At the same time, women began to disappear and Tony's charisma and good looks made many people overlook him as a possible suspect.  When he becomes a key suspect, local writers Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer both race to write about Costa and launch their own investigations.

I really wanted to fall headfirst into Helltown and read all the way through, but it just didn't grab me the way books like I'll Be Gone in the Dark. Casey Sherman is a solid writer, but this book feels like fiction instead of true crime and that's just not my style. Still, folks who love the classic true crime narrative of the 70s and 80s will likely fall madly in love with this book.




Helltown is available July 12, 2022 from Sourcebooks.
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Before Manson, there was Costa - a sadistic serial killer on Cape Cod. In the times of drugs and hippies, Costa preyed on women and hacked them to pieces. This nonfiction novel is reminiscent of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood or Casey Cep's Furious Hours. I loved every second of it and couldn't put it down!
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I have an uncanny obsession with true crime so when I saw Helltown, I knew without a doubt I had to submit a request and I am so happy I did. 

This was a WILD story. Jam packed with knowledge, murder, and some cool little hippie vibe. Helltown, needs to be on every true crime lovers radar. 

I never heard of Tony Costa but holy crap, now I will never forget him. This whole book was just absolutely insane. Please do yourself a favor and request this book and then obsessively search google for every little detail . 

Five Stars
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A serial killer is on the loose a the end of the 1960's in the area of the Cape Cod bay, south of Boston. Young girls start to disappear but at it is at the time that even the most square youth might rapidly find their ways in the hippy community, it is difficult to discern the difference between a disappearance and a youthful search for freedom.  That is until corpses start to appear and the police is on the hunt for Tony Costa. 

  To be honest, I had to take a break from the book, as it is very gruesome and the horrendous murders are very vividly detailed. The way the story is brought is almost in a non-fiction way with very detailed surroundings, well crafted characters and vivid dialogue. I often reminded myself: how can this be non-fiction? How does the author know how these characters would have spoken? Held themselves? React in certain situations?  In combination with the gruesome content, I think my mind was even more comfortable reading this as non-fiction, unconsciously trying to push away the fact that all this has really happened. And I must say that this form of storytelling made a more compelling read than straight-out stating facts that you usually get from true crime. But I feel it is also more worrying, reading about true crime in a non-fiction way, it detaches the reader from a almost unbearable reality. 

  From the very start, the author draws in two authors - Vonnegut and Mailer - and finds lines towards Tony Costa and honestly, I feel these connections were superfluous. I understand why the author did this, but I thought it just dragged the whole story, to a point where I skipped the parts that were about the authors all together.  This is a very long book and I think it would have been better, shorter and more concise, without these references.

A sincere thanks to NetGalley, Sourcebooks and the author for an advance copy in exchange for an honest reveiw.
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Thank you Barnes and Noble and NetGallery for this ARC.of Helltown.The author combined three different elements into his nonfiction book of two well-known authors and a young serial killer all residing in Provincetown,RI during the 60’s.This book is well written and researched but the murders were described very graphically and grotesquely which was difficult for me to read without putting down frequently to get a fresh breath of air.I was quite interested in the two authors,Mailer and Vonnegut which I knew little about but knew of their names, books,and movies associated with them. I would highly recommend this book just based on info about those two well known authors.
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I have heard of Tony Costa, the Cape Cod serial killer, before. However, I was not aware that he was from my hometown and that he had many ties to Boston. A couple of tidbits of information I was not aware of until I read this book: Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer were also on Cape Cod during this time period and the fact that Provincetown was so involved in the drug scene and hippies  (growing up, Cape Cod was idyllic in my eyes), I enjoyed the research that went into the writing of this book. Not only did I learn something about my home city/state, the information from the police departments to the landladies added to the story. I highly recommend this book., but be forewarned, it can get pretty gruesome. (But I am guessing if you chose this book to read, you were expecting gruesome.)
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Free ARC from NETGALLEY

Almost killed the story, and it is a great one, with all the history in the first 90 pages but then we got in to "Terrible Tony" killing it on Cape Cod and it never slowed.

Good book, push through the early pages
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In the aftermath of the Vietnam war, with so many searching for peace, love and understanding, the stage was set for damaged narcissist Antone “Tony” Costa to play to peoples fears and desires to attain cult-like devotion. The evil so shallowly under the surface, as well as the simple “wrong place, wrong time” circumstances that allowed women who trusted or loved Tony to become victims and impacted those close to them, was chilling. The juxtaposed stories of Mailer and Vonnegut provided interesting perspective but for me, crowded the narrative and interrupted the cadence of the story. The witchcraft storyline also  had a similar effect. Though I lived through the 60’s, I was a child. The glimpses into pervasive misogyny in the obvious forms, physical abuse and more subtle marginalization of women, the female juror told to just keep looking pretty, was also disturbing.
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Quick Take:  The 1960’s was a crazy time for crime and Provincetown, Massachusetts is no exception.

Helltown by Casey Sherman combines multiple storylines all converging in Province Town Masschussetts, also known as “Helltown.”  The main storyline follows Tony Costa, a serial killer, who murdered many young women.  Woven into the story is a feud between Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer.  While these concurrent storylines may seem jarring at first, they are all tied together in the end by Provincetown.

On the outside, Tony Costa appeared to be a mild-mannered, local handy man and low-level drug dealer.  On the inside, Tony Costa’s alter ego Cody — was looking for his next victim.  Costa could only get off if a woman were harmed or dead, this is what drove him to murder young women.  Unfortunately, this was the 1960’s, a time when young women ran away and disappeared with regularity.  So, when several young women were reported missing the local police didn’t take it very seriously.  It wasn’t until the body of a young woman was discovered in the woods that police began to investigate.  

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys true crime.  The book was well-written and kept my attention, especially on the parts about Tony Costa.  I think this book would benefit from a Forward/Introduction written by the author explaining his vision for the book.  Without a unifying vision and foreknowledge of the pieces, the beginning of the book feels disjointed.

Rating: 4/5
Genre: True Crime
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