Cover Image: Helltown


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Helltown is a solid true crime novel about the Cape Code serial killer Tony Costa. This is my first time reading a true crime novel from Casey Sherman, but I now know it won't be my last. I enjoyed the way Sherman presented the case. Highly recommended!

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This tale of the Cape Code serial killer Tony Costa was in several ways a pretty interesting read, especially with its surprising connection to Kurt Vonnegut (and also Norman Mailer, but I was genuinely unfamiliar with him until I came across this very book). Also, considering all that I have absorbed through the culture consciousness relating to similar figures like Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer, I was genuinely surprised to realize that I had never heard of Costa or his crimes, especially as a New Englander.

However, this also proved to be a bit of a challenging read as well. I am not a true crime kind of person beyond a few documentaries that I've watched alongside my partner, and so "Helltown" was very much new territory that I curiously ventured into. Little did I realize just how much more intensely graphic the descriptions of the murders were going to be compared to what I've experienced watching streaming shows about unsolved crimes on Netflix or Hulu. The amped level of grisly detail related to all the crimes almost immediately proved to not be my cup of tea.

I had some issues with the writing - namely the dialogue that Sherman wrote between various figures as part of recreated conversations. Frankly I found them to be quite wooden, and at times almost distractingly so.

So while there was intriguing general subject matter, this book definitely didn't convert me into a fan of the genre - if "Helltown" has done anything, it's mostly confirmed that true crime still isn't for me, and this will be a personal one-off foray for now. However, I think it's safe to assume that for fans of this kind of stuff, you'll probably be quite pleased with what you'll find here.

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In 1969, Tony Costa murders four young women on Cape Cod, at the same time Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer are in their literary prime. This book follows Costa's crimes, the police investigation, and the court case that followed. I was surprised I hadn't heard of this serial killer before. If you like true crime, you'll definitely like Helltown. However, you might not like it if you're squeamish since it does cover Costa's murders.

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Great book. Definately kept me on edge the whole time I read . I've never read anything by this author but I will definitely be reading all their books after reading HellTown

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Excellent. Great and very fresh coverage of the infamous murders on Cape Cod in the 60s. Very well written. Better than the old Damore book, which came out what, 40 years ago? Ties together Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut and the murderer, who I choose not to promote with a name. All of them were more or less present at the same time, all carrying out their work. I have spent time in this area, starting just 6 or 7 years after the murders. To read about locations I know is gripping, terrorizing in particular, because the place is outwardly so idyllic. I have relatives who lived there for a time and knew the killer's wife casually.
Also a serious look into psychotropic drug abuse. Could it have contributed to the killings? It was available, to be had for nothing, almost.
This book keeps you involved, Had to skip dinner. Great read. Some names aren't familiar, were they changed? Other names are missing. Hmmm.

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Helltown by Casey Sherman is the true story of Tony Costa, the Cape Cod serial killer. I sometimes find true crime books hard to get through, especially when they read more like a news article or a textbook than a novel, however being from the Cape Cod area I was excited to read this one. The beginning of the book has a lot of backstory about Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer, and just small short mentions about what Costa was up to. Once the three stories overlap, the Vonnegut and Mailer sections make sense. I really started to get invested once the book shifted to be more about Costa and his attempts at evading and deceiving police. While I did overall enjoy this book, my only real complaint was the dialogue - much of it was stilted and hard to read as actual conversations.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of Helltown for my honest review.

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I was not familiar with this crime but found the mind of this killer was frightening. I was distracted by the side stories of 2 authors but midway it was revealed how they fit into the story although I don’t think it added much. This authors ‘s descriptions of the conversations between the killers personalities was important and helpful in understanding the inner turmoil this guy was going through. 1969 was a strange time to be alive, sex, drugs and alcohol were were rampant and I’m sure caused part of the issues surrounding this case. A very interesting case that got lost by the Charles Manson massacre

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I don’t do true crime. I hate gore, blood, murder, etc. I’m clearly a lover, not a fighter… so when I saw the cover of this on Netgalley, I said to myself, “Let me request this and see what it’s about.” LUCKY ME because they were like, “Yasssss, Queen, here you go!”

And so, I downloaded the book… and was bored for like the first 3-5 Chapters. I couldn’t really figure out why we were talking about Kurt Vonnegut or some guy named Norman Mailer. I was clearly bored because I wanted it to live up to my typical romance novels but I had to remind myself this was true crime not romance… so I kept going and did this book take me on an emotional rollercoaster and then everything started to click and tie together 😳 I stayed up super late the first night because I couldn’t put it down and read EVERY chance I had the 2nd day to finish it up. Talk about being SHOOK! I loved it! I knew nothing about Tony Costa until now and I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a chance on this because it was well worth the read!

It has angst - romance - sadness - family - travel - murders - a trial - taxidermy - and a lot of suspense.

“I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

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