Cover Image: Helltown

Helltown

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Member Reviews

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This was just ok, unfortunately, it didn't capture my attention as much as I wanted, I ended up being a little bored.
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So, I loved the title and the cover and when I read the synopsis that this was a true crime book about a man and murders I had never heard of, I was so in!  I knew without a doubt I had to submit a request and I am so happy I did. This was a crazy story that I knew nothing about. Jam packed with knowledge, murder, and some cool little hippie vibe. Helltown, needs to be on every true crime lovers radar. I will now never forget Tony Costa. This whole book was just absolutely insane. Please do yourself a favor and request this book and then obsessively go down rabbit holes for all the details .
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This book contains two of my favorite subjects: serial killers and Cape Cod. I was intrigued when I first heard about this true crime story because somehow I had never heard of Tony Costa or the gruesome murders he committed. The way in which the sequence of events was told made me feel as if I was right there alongside Tony while he desecrated the bodies of those innocent women. It was insanely disturbing to say the least, and I questioned whether or not to finish the book. But the portions of the story I disliked reading the most were those that discussed local writers, Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer. I found it unnecessary to include them as they often segued into parts of their lives that had nothing to do with Tony Costa. 

Overall, I liked the idea of this true crime story and think it is one that not a lot of light has been shed on in recent years, but I didn’t fully enjoy how the book was written and at times it bored me to tears.

*Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for providing a copy of this book to review.*
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Propulsive and well written, this true crime book reads like a novel. A fascinating read - I knew nothing of Tony Costa before reading this and I consider myself something of a true crime junkie. Sherman has done a masterful job of describing Cape Cod in the 60s as well as being a chilling account of a brutal serial killer. Reminiscent of the works of Erik Larson, in that I could not put it down despite nonfiction normally taking me much longer to get through!
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✨Book Review✨

Another eARC and ALC courtesy of @netgally and @sourcebooksfire and @recordedbooks and I’m so grateful! Also, the author narrates the audiobook, always a bonus!

Helltown is the story of Tony Costa, serial killer on Cape Cod in the 1960s. Costa’s murders were before Charles Manson even made it onto the scene and, honestly, were much more gruesome. The details involving the murders in this book are hard to read or listen to, but the story of how he was eventually caught is so satisfying. To see that monster make it behind bars is 👏🙌.

The way Casey Sherman writes this book is much like a historical fiction novel being written about a true historical figure. Sherman wanted to write this story in a conversational and novel way, so it’s not written like the typical true crime story. The events that occur in this book are still very real and very 😱🫣😣.
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This wasn't quite what I expected...

Definitely didn't hate it, but didn't love it either. It was more gruesome than I was prepared for, more fictional...and I was thrown off by the "recreation" elements of this otherwise true crime novel as well. That said, the writing was smooth...it's evident Mr. Sherman is a talented author.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the advance copy.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for providing me with an ARC copy.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have mixed feelings about this book...

Helltown is about the 1960's serial killer of Cape Cod.
This is a true crime narrative that takes us back to the 60's, back to Provincetown, Massachusetts, back to a time Tony Costa, drug-soaked hippie culture and gruesome murders.

Gruesome is definitely a key word here.

I enjoy true crime, both reading about them and watching the stories. It's something that has caught my attention and became an interest over the years. (that sounds odd haha) Stories of disappearances, kidnappings, murders, true crimes that just add to my anxiety and worries yet I keep reading them. Maybe it's because of our own local stories but that's beside the point.

I had actually never heard the stories of Cape Cod or this serial killer and while interesting to read and discover more, I just had to step away from the book at times because it's a bit too graphic for me. I know sometimes the shock factor is there to catch the reader's attention but for me, I had to skip over a few parts. I did look up some details, I like to know more about the true crimes and see how well the story stays on track with facts.

I think if you really enjoy true crime, this would be a book for you. It was interesting but slightly more than what I like as far as gruesome details.... however.... the story, the crimes, the murders, they truly were gruesome so the author was simply telling things as they should be told.
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I am absolutely sad to say that this one was not for me. I tried multiple times to get into it, and it never hooked me. I love crime fiction, thrillers and true crime, but the Vonnegut story seemed like a distraction to me. I also became concerned about the book being pitched as nonfiction when I began to realize how much was ad-libbed. I am a journalist, and that part bothered me more than I thought it would. 
I really loved the cover and had high hopes of sharing a rave review of this one on my Bookstagram, but it ultimately wasn't for me.
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1.75

Reading this book was a rollercoaster. I was unsure of how I felt about it in the beginning, as the narrative jumps from Tony Costa, the killer, to authors Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut. But once I started looking at the book more as an exploration of the time period rather than a pure true crime I started to get invested. And then the book kept going. 

Ultimately, I think I understand what Sherman was trying to do, but the convoluted storytelling was unsuccessful in my mind and adding in all the extra details about the era and Mailer/Vonnegut just made the book feel too long and uneven. 

I also wasn't the biggest fan of this particular style of narrative nonfiction. Towards the beginning of the book, specifically in the Vonnegut portions, it was hard to tell if Sherman's information came from actual sources about Vonnegut's life or if he just took the "autobiographical" parts from Slaughterhouse-Five. And throughout the book Sherman "recreates" full on conversations and internal dialogue that may or may not have actually happened and in one particular instance recreates a scene that in his author's note he says is a theory "as plausible as any" but with no indication in text of it being a theory. For me, the kind of nonfiction that toes the line into fiction doesn't work.
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Fascinating! A nonfiction book that reads like fiction, and also involves some of the most famous names in literature in the MOST bizarre ways, this is a must read for anyone who is fascinated with serial killers and their motives. Highly recommend!
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Reader, if you like true crime books this one is enjoyable as it seemed to me well-written, paced, & researched. Any readers out there who are sensitive & like to avoid reading about gruesome murders & horrible things done to women you may want to stay away.

*I have seen reviews where others mention this book contains a lot of fiction, after reading the very beginning I understood that the author had to fill in as needed to create a voice for the dead which is what makes Helltown interesting to read instead of textbook style.
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This book is all over the place.  It starts by leading into some back ground but then intersperses a story about Vonnegut.  I was unfamiliar with the serial murders that took place in Provincetown (Helltown), Mass committed by Tony Costa in 1969. While this book is listed as True Crime that’s not entirely the case. It’s true crime containing a great deal of narrative fiction. The murders and the trial actually happened but much of the rest of it rings false. The dialogue is trite and a lot of the interactions, personal thoughts etc. are fabricated. This is full of stuffing. The filler includes Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, Chappaquiddick, Apollo 11, the Charles Manson murders, as well as speculation regarding the perpetrator of an unsolved murder. If you think this sounds convoluted, you would be correct.    I also found entire chapters on Kurt Vonnegut and Normal Mailer unnecessary and just made the book that much more frustrating. Half of this book is fictional and it shouldn't be especially since it is labeled as NON FICTION.  I was not impressed and disappointed in this book.
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This was such a good thriller! It kept me guessing and intrigued the whole time! The characters were likable and well developed. I would definitely recommend this to everyone!
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Helltown, the Untold Story of a Serial Killer on Cape Cod, by Casey Sherman is a true crime/partially fictionalized story of the serial killer, Antone (Tony) Costa, who terrorized Provincetown/Ptown/Hell Town from 1964 til his capture, and indictment in 1970. 

Antone Costa was a charismatic, almost godlike figure for the lost. He was well read, articulate, and engaging. He had a knack for drawing people together as a family unit. He also had a very dark side.

The “family” he brought together included hippies, drug addicts, misfits, and those seeking a father figure. His favorite author was Herman Hesse, and his favorite book, Steppenwolf. He fancied himself as “the wolf of the Steppes.” 

He was a drug addict and handed out drugs to his disciples, and family members like candy. He especially enjoyed LSD which he believed to heighten his senses. 

Costa had a large Marijuana patch in the Truro woods, which would prove to be a crucial part of his murderous plan. He was also a novice taxidermist, the impetus for the killings. 

Tony believed that his so-called “family” could surpass the Manson family in notoriety, and depravity. Get better goals, people!

Casey Sherman weaves a vivid narrative that takes the reader along on Tony’s wild killing spree, his capture, and the circus-like atmosphere of the trial. At the time several famous novelists were living in Ptown at the time of these murders, and the author allows the reader to see how this case relates to each of them.

The author also highlights other historical events that may have been connected to the case. The rest of the characters you meet in Hell Town are the officers, victims, and victims’ families. 

The fictionalized portion deals with self-speak, and the timeline of events that took place within the book. It does not detract from the true crime aspect of the story. 

The most startling portions of Hell Town are true. I am not easily made nauseous by true crime, but this was brutal. 

Casey Sherman’s writing style and description of the events are brilliant and nightmare-ish. 

I remember hearing of these murders when I was young. There was coverage of both Costa and Charles Manson in the local Newspaper/TV. I was mesmerized by these crimes. 

I became so invested in the story that I had a few nightmares. It was frightening, riveting, and exhausting to hear what people could do to each other. 

I love true crime novels, and gory tends to be the language of the genre. However, Hell Town takes the gore factor to a whole new level. 

If you are squeamish, this book is not for you. Otherwise, true crime buffs will thoroughly enjoy this well-written, in-depth look at “the wolf of the Steppes.
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Helltown was an interesting book. It was so far the best book I have read about Tony Costa. However I only gave it 3 stars because this was supposed to be a True Crime book, but there where too many fictional elements tossed in for my liking. At places the books felt a little scattered, Tony Costa was the main subject of the book but, in my opinion, Mailer, Vonnegut and even Manson got way more pages devoted to them then they should have. 
That being said it was an interesting book and if a TV show based on it comes out I will be watching.
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This was a strange book. It read like a mix of fiction and nonfiction with so many details in it that seemed wholly unnecessary for the progress of the book. I was initially intrigued by the Vonnegut/Mailer angle but then lost interest as I didn't see how it really pertained to anything. I had high hopes for this one but it definitely fell flat for me. Thanks so much for the opportunity to read it!
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I love true crime and serial killer reads. However, my biggest qualm with this is that it is written like fiction despite being non fiction. This was immediately off putting to me and if a person didnt know any better they’d think this is just another thriller novel
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I'm still not sure how to review this book just yet. 

More to come once I'm able to put into words my thoughts.  

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC
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This is not my typical genre but what a good read! I finally got my hands on a physical copy and I really enjoyed it!

Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc(though i missed downloading it) for an honest review!
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This is a great story of gruesome murders in Provincetown in the late seventies. I loved the use of characters, including Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., to tell the story of a horrific time in such a peaceful, idyllic place.
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