Cover Image: Helltown


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Member Reviews

Genre: True Crime
Format: Kindle eBook and Audiobook 
Date Published: 7/12/22
Author: Casey Sherman
Publisher: Sourcebooks & RB Media
Narrator: Casey Sherman
GR: 3.47

I requested a digital advanced readers copy from NetGalley and Sourcebooks & RB Media and providing my opinion voluntarily and unbiased.

Synopsis: Tony Costa is the leader of their counter-culture movement. 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, as the bodies are discovered, the police close in on him as the key suspect. Local writers Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer both set their sights on Tony Costa and the drug-soaked hippie culture that he embodies as their next promising subject, launching independent investigations that stoke the competitive fires between two of the greatest American writers. While a notorious serial killer, he was only convicted of 2 murders due to forensic evidence. 

My Thoughts: The way the author portrayed this novel was unique. Dialogue was created as if the characters actually said these things, which we do not know for sure, it did add artistic flare and was not received well by all readers. The two author narratives seemed tangent and unnecessary, I skipped over these parts. The author did do extensive research to write this book, so that felt authentic, realistic, and appreciated. The ways murders are investigated today is much different than they were investigated in the 60’s and 70’s, which is why there maybe less serial killers today, than in previous years. This was a work of fictional and non-fictional attributes, which makes for an impressive true crime novel. The telling of these murders was gruesome and did not leave much to the imagination. I love true crime books and was left a little disappointed by this one. I think the two authors mixed with fictional aspects just turned the novel in a different direction.
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In 1969 in Massachusetts the hippie culture is alive and well, and found within it all is Tony Costa, also known as Sire to the women that swoon over and take drugs with him. Hidden behind this hippie facade, however, is a dangerous man intent on murder. When women begin to disappear, some of whom are connected to Tony, the police begin to zero in on him as their suspicions about him begin to grow. Can police prove Costa is the killer before another woman falls victim to his murderous rage?

Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer desperately wish to make their marks on the literary world, and to do so before and more effectively than the other. Both believe that the Tony Costa case may be the ticket to that literary immortality as they begin their own, individual investigations into Costa. Little do they know their obsession with these murders may lead to some negative consequesnces for both men.

Helltown has a lot going on within the pages. The reader is taken on multiple journeys as they experience events in the lives of Tony Costa, Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer. While I appreciate the connections between these three men, I really would have been happier if there had been less time devoted to the two writers and more to the killer, his crimes, and his victims. The novel flowed well, even with the jumps between the major players, and was quite interesting. I felt that Sherman presented these crimes in a respectful, and not sensational, way.

If you are a fan of true crime, or one who wishes to know more about Vonnegut or Mailer, you should consider reading Helltown; it is enjoyable and informative.
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As a true crime fan, I often love the raw, real retelling of events. Helltown focuses on Tony Costa and the havoc he caused in Cape Cod. Unfortunately, I was not able to get through the entire book, but I appreciate having the opportunity to provide my review.
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This was a difficult one for me to review.  I like true crime books, but this was closer to creative non-fiction than an actual account and the fiction and embellishments are less great.  I understand it for dramatic effect, but I did feel that the plausibility was a bit pushed.
It was still an ok read, but just not what I was expecting.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in return for my honest opinion.
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This was a tough one to finish and review. Helltown tells the story of Tony Costa and his gruesome crimes against Christine Gallant, Sydney Monzon, Susan Perry, Patricia Walsh, and Mary Anne Wysocki.

Ultimately, I am not one for fictionalized storytelling in my true crime. I don’t watch true crime shows with re-enactments and I noticed the fictionalized tilt in Helltown right away. The author takes a certain amount of liberty with recreating plausible dialogue and actions between Costa and the victim(s) and that just isn’t for me.

Additionally, the introduction to events contemporary to the time was interesting and relevant but I had to drag myself through sections dedicated to the writers. At least 80% of the sections detailing the lives of Mailer and Vonnegut Jr. were extraneous and could have been left out. It dragged the pacing down significantly and left me irritable and setting the book down.

In the end, if you don’t mind re-enactments and are even the least bit curious about Mailer and Vonnegut, then this may be your jam.

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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This book just didn't work for me. I didn't like the focus on people other than the serial killer or the uncomfortable inclusion of so many fictional and imagined elements. I won't be reviewing on social media platforms because I chose not to finish this book after reading half of it.
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I am a lover of true crime. I read thrillers, I love Dateline, I listen to true crime podcasts. So this book was seemingly right up my alley.

Helltown is a true crime novel about the infamous serial killer, Antone “Tony” Costa who plagued Cape Town in 1969. I thought the author did an immense amount of research and I always appreciate that. This was half non fiction/half fiction. The author took liberties with describing the dialogue and how the victims felt. I kind of wish the author would have picked a lane and either made it completely non fiction or completely fiction and "loosely based". It was just okay for me, a little bit too long.
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This was definitely a different side of the story that I didn't know about so it was interesting. It wasn't what I was expecting though.
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As a resident of Massachusetts and a summer resident of Cape Cod I was fascinated to find out more about the murders in the Cape. Mr. Sherman brought the young victims to life in this book. So often we read about the victims of crime, and while we may feel for them at the moment, we turn away quickly to get on with our own lives. This book made it impossible for me to do that. I could not walk away from the pain the families felt as the manner of their children’s death and subsequent mutilations was put before them during the trial of Antone Costa. As horrific as his crimes were, Sherman managed to present Costa as human, even though his actions were monstrous. 

Interspersed with the search for the missing young women, the author discusses the animosity between Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer, Ted Kennedy’s auto accident that killed Mary Jo Kopekne at Chappaquiddick and the moon landing. The history that occurred around the murders and trial of Costa created a fascinating contrast of life. Using a movie title as case and point “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” Life moves on, even as history is made.

But under the surface of ordinary life there is the extraordinary. Casey Sherman wrote about life and death in a remarkable construct. This book is a must read for the true crime aficionado as well as anyone interested in the mind of a serial killer.
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I really enjoyed this amazingly researched true crime book. 

I loved all of the people mentioned and how they all fit together within this crazy psycho's murders!

Casey Sherman really know what he is doing and it shows.
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Before Charles Manson, there was Tony Costa-the serial killer of Cape Cod

1969: The hippie scene is vibrant in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Long-haired teenagers roam the streets, strumming guitars and preaching about peace and love... and 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, up-and-coming 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, launching independent investigations that stoke the competitive fires between two of the greatest American writers.

Immersive, unflinching, and shocking, Helltown is a landmark true crime narrative that transports us back to the turbulent late 1960s, reveals the secrets of a notorious serial killer, and unspools the threads connecting Costa, Vonnegut, and Mailer in the seaside city that played host to horrors unlike any ever seen before.

I have been really into thrillers lately! I think I'll soon need to take a little break though! This one was a little gruesome at times, but I feel like with serial killer books thats going to happen. I had never heard of Costa but now I won't forget about him. I saw a lot of people DNF'd this book, I had thought about it in the beginning but just pushed through. 

Thanks to NetGalley for my arc!
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As a true crime junkie, I enjoyed the multiple POVs and the reading about the crimes, the behind the scene details you don't get a lot of when reading thrillers and mysteries. However, I didn't love some of the side plot. It made this a bit too wordy for me.
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This was a case I was entirely unfamiliar with, so it was eye opening to read. I think true crime fans will find a lot to like here.
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Helltown was a great fictionalized tale of events that occurred in the late 60's, early 70's. I was very impressed with Casey Sherman's juicy details, whether they were true or not, they all left chills down my spine. I took my time with this book because there are many triggering or upsetting sickening details from Tony Costa's murders and other events somewhat related to the timeline around Costa's sentencing.

Costa has an alter ego named Cory Devereaux, whom he puts the blame on for killing the girls instead of himself, while being under the influence of LSD and Dilaudid. Clearly this was all around the time medical diagnoses were not around yet to see exactly what mental illness Costa had. This book was a little tough to get through because of the taxidermy-like ways Costa treated his victims and I was so happy when the focus eventually turned to other cases happening around the same time or Vonnegut and Mailer's timelines, I am glad Sherman does provide this relief to the reader.

Overall, great work and loved the pictures included with the articles or events around the victims involved. I was hooked from the fourth chapter, where I realized people are not what they seem and the lesson is be careful who you trust. Please read this with caution.

Huge thanks to Casey Sherman, NetGalley and the Sourcebooks publishing team for my Advanced Digital AND Physical Reader Copy, you guys are the best!
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Tony Costa´s murders are told in a way that seems a fiction story base on a true crime instead of being a non-fiction. I prefer non-fiction be more factual.
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Nothing will suck me in faster than true crime. And this hit the spot! I'm not even kidding. Even those who aren't fans will find this fast paced and so fascinating.
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Thank you to netgalley for providing an e-galley for review. Helltown is the true crime story of Tony Costa, a serial killer who would have been more famous if other events of the 1960's did not over shadow his atrocious crimes. Set against Cape Cod, Casey Sherman does an excellent job of setting time and place of the 1960's and connecting the counter culture, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut and the disturbing crime spree of Tony Costa. This was an excellent book.
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This book was an interesting read but I honestly had trouble keeping everything straight in my mind because the author went off on different tangents. It lead to this reader being frustrated. I am also not a fan of adding fictionalized scenarios in a non-fiction true crime book (though the author was very upfront about using this literary device). I ended up giving this 3-stars on Goodreads. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book.
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Review HellTown by Casey Sherman
Post to NetGalley
Publisher SourceBooks

First let me say, I am a fan of true crime. I really like them. I don't know why. Maybe I feel li is it is a sort of honor to the victums so they will be remembered for the good and innocent (mostly) people they were. Jist like us and there but by the grace of God we we haven’t shared such a fate. I also find the criminal mind fascinating study to learn how we might prevent the same happening to others. I guess I am a bit of a Pollyana in that regard.

Next I would like to say. This is not a mystery novel. This is a true crime story and the story is all too real. You need to havea space in your mind that can read about the horrific murders, then shelve it away. Remember the victums and their families but take the horror to the back of your mind. I know it is not easy but I have learned to do that It is more like an impersonal rather than personal approach to this type of book.

I think this book is brilliant. I had always pictured Cape Cod as an almost ideal place (thanks Patti Page) and honestly I never heard of Tony Costa and his crimes. The book only covers four murders but they are quite violent and you wonder what could have made him do it in the first place. Personally I think Codta hates women. He obviously didn’t care about his mother or his wife. The drugs he took also played a part in his anger and caused a split in his personality and odd to me he had a living person as his alter ego.
You would think that would be enough to tell of this story but there’s more. This was the late 1960s and nearly every community had their share of Jesus Freak cults and hippie community. The author mentions that Costa went to California and may have spent some time with Charles Manson and his ”family” To me it would make sense because Costa’s group was so similar but with different motives. Manson’s was to start a race war. Costa wanted revenge against women.
At the time of the Costa murder author Kurt Vonnegut Jr and Norman Mailer lived on Cape Cod. Both had sagging careers and decided to gain attention by writing magazine articles or books about the Costa murders. Then there is the local district attorney who wanted to make a name for himself in the political arena and exaggerated the murders that hampered the investigation. Oh yes, there was also Senator Ted Kenedy and Chappaquiddick. Lits of events happening in late 1969. We also get to read about the trial and guess what ladies? There was only one woman on the jury.

There are a lot of things going on here that is why it is one reason It’s true crime and history. I hope people will be able to get past the idea of gruesome murders and read it.
Thank you to author Casey Stein, SourceBooks publishers and NetGalley for giving me a free copy of Hell Town and my observations and final review are my own
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"Helltown" by Casey Sherman is, the story Cape Cod's serial killer Tony Costa. 

I would give "Helltown" by Casey Sherman because, 1; while this is, a true crime novel it seemed more fictional than true crime 2; while I liked the idea of learning more about this serial killer not everything seemed accurate.
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