Cover Image: Helltown

Helltown

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Member Reviews

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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Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. I found this book to be long-winded and full of irrelevant details. It also incorporates the stories of other tragedies as well as the lack of who the deceased really were. In my opinion, it sensationalized the murderer which was exactly what he hoped for. I found my mind wandering while reading which is something I’ve never done with a good book. Difficult to finish this as well as attempt to follow the multiple stories that really weren’t pertinent to the story. Maybe a different title would have allowed readers to decide if they wanted to read this book…I wouldn’t have if I would have known that is was only partially related to the actual story of the Costa murders.
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Helltown is a blend of real life events and ficticious elements. I was surprised I had never heard of Tony Costa, since I'm morbidly fascinated by heinous crimes. I was surprised how much Helltown focused on other major events and the rivalry between Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut. I honestly could have done with less of it, but overall enjoyed this read.
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I can’t remember the last time I didn’t finish a book. Even if I don’t care for it, I usually suck it up and make it to the end. I couldn’t do it with this one. I made it to 30% and decided to move on with life. The style of writing was chaotic, the description of some of the murders was so gory I just skipped it, and the beef between Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer seemed pointless. 

Thank you to #netgalley for this ARC, my apologies for not being able to finish it.
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I attempted this prior to the release date and found the lengthy discussion of Vonnegut and Mailer dull and dry,  and struggled to find any real point to it in relation to the serial killer. I assumed it would tie in later, but the prose was tedious and I didn't want to keep reading. After the publication date, I bought the audiobook so I could complete this feedback, and assuming it would be easier to get through on audio. I was wrong. The prose does not improve upon listening. It feels like the author is trying to do too much, adding in the nonsense with the two authors, digging into "hippie culture", and detailing the murders, and not succeeding at any of it. The book needs a narrower, tighter focus. I also question labeling a book nonfiction that contains so much internal dialogue and conversations between victims. Yes, having dialogue often makes a book flow better, but if you write what you "think" happened or "think" someone said and write it as if it were actual fact, not hearsay, then you've deviated from non-fiction.
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Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC. 

A journalist takes the reader with a moderately fictionalized account of the Cape Town murders on the East Coast in the 60s. 

Tony Costa, known as "Sire" by his tiny legion of followers (mostly girls) sells any drug her can get his hand on. He develops an alter-ego, pushed by his defense team as having started due to the sheer amount of drugs he was taking and caused by a pill prescription by a doctor, and his alter-ego murders and mutilates four women (that we know of). 

A grotesquely descriptive book that is all over the place, from the West Coast to the East Coast to Chicago, touching on Charles Manson, JFK and other Kennedys, Kurt Vonnegut and his military past and subsequent PTSD, Normal Mailer and his many, many women. NASA.
The author notes at the end that he took artistic liberties to fill in some of the gaps in the story, including a potentially unrelated (but disturbingly similar) murder of the lady in the dune that took place after Costa's arrest. 

See my full review on YouTube.
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Disclaimer, I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley, the author, and publisher for an honest r3view.

This is a DNF  @13%, which is surprising.  I love True Crime books, but this book kept telling what the dead were thinking and feeling., which felt like fiction .  I just want the facts.  There is no way of knowing what people were thinking and feeling without interviewing them (impossible since dead) or a journal etc.  Plus, I couldn't stand the constant dialoque about authors Kurt Vonnegut Jr and Norman Mailer.  Maybe if I would have finished I would have figured out why we kept hearing about them, but I just couldn't.

Side note, I skipped to the end to read the Author's Note, where he admits to taking  "fictional liberties.  This makes me wonder how this is a work of non-fiction then.

Thank you to NetGalley, publisher, and the author for the chance to read this book.
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I thoroughly really enjoyed Helltown and for any fan of true crime it really is well done. I didn't see the need for or like the consistent mentioning of Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut, jr. It felt forced, almost like the author was name dropping. Until they were writing about the crimes themselves, they were quite useless to the story.
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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for a review.

I was very intrigued by the description of this book which is why I didn't hesitate to request a copy to read.  I am a huge fan of true crime and thriller/mysteries and I also visit Cape Cod every year so I felt the story would offer some kind of familiarity.

Although this was a true crime story, there were moments that were fictionalized.  I was confused when starting the book when it was focused heavily on these two dueling authors.  I also wasn't a fan of the overly graphic details of the murders.
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I usually like true crime, and the premise of this novel really intrigued me. I have never heard of these murders so I thought it would be a good read since I had no background information to go off of to spoil the story. However, this title fell flat for me. The story was very slow paced and I felt like I was trudging through massive amounts of facts just to get to the interesting parts of this story. I also felt like the author was focusing on too many people at once throughout this novel. I also had a problem with the fact that aspects of this story were completely fictionalized, as explained by the author himself. It just hit the mark for me overall.
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I love true crime and this story was interesting to me, as I hadn't heard much about Tony Costa. 
I'm torn on rating this book.  Much of it was good.  The inclusion of Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut, while interesting, distracted me from the actual story.  The author did use some fictional elements (admittedly - it's in the author's note) regarding conversations that may or may not have happened.

It is clear the author did a lot of research.  The base story of Tony Costa was compelling and I found him a bit out there and fascinating.  Like many other serial killers, he knew how to turn on the charm and win people over!  I had never heard much about this case and it was interesting.

I would definitely try out this author again.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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A well told true crime novel set in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Tony Costa is a charismatic figure, a head of counter culture, and able to charm all the younger women who come into his path. What follows is a twisting tale of a serial killer who becomes known as the most dangerous man of Cape Cod.

Very well researched, and told in an engrossing manner - Helltown by Casey Sherman was a win for me.
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In the late 1960’s, Cape Cod was plagued by a serial killer. Young women go missing, their bodies turning up months later proving they were killed in incredibly gruesome manners. Local writers, Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer, become obsessed with the case and the man at the center of the investigation, Tony Costa. This book takes you inside the mind of a killer while also being told from the perspectives of all of the key players.

This book ended up being a lot different than what I expected. I felt like I was reading a documentary dramatization. At times, it was a little cheesy. The first few chapters were mildly confusing and it took me a while to get invested. However, all of the storylines started coming together and the pace picked up. It was really gripping story telling and kept me turning page after page late into the night! This really mixes thriller and non-fiction genres, which may be aggravating for some readers. Still, the author does a great job of noting references and explaining the thought process behind the novel in the author’s note. This really helped me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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Special thanks to SOURCEbooks and Netgalley for the ARC of this book.

This book is about serial killer Tony Costa, who I'm surprised I've never heard of, possibly because it was in the 60's before my time...still the murders ocur in Provincetown and was part of the 60's drug culture.

If I'm reading true crime, not my usual genre, but I've been seeing this book all over. It started out a bit slow and as I started reading it I realized a lot seemed fictionalized and slow and than Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut were in it too. It was hard to keep my interest hanging in there because a lot focused on Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut so I think the blurb misled me a bit. 

Still, it wasn't terrible and I think it's better recommend for true crime lovers. because I've been seeing this book all over the place. But like I said, for me, not my kind of book.
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This book was intense - I had never heard of these murders before and the way the story unfolding was definitely a trip. The writing was well done and I could easily become immersed in the story. A very well done true crime story - and living in New England made it all the more real as I’ve been to some of the locations mentioned.
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This is the best book, I read this summer. And I read a lot. This is one book you won’t put down. Tony Costa a serial killer, with an altered ego. Killing girls and mutilating their bodies. Happens in the sixties, being such memories of the.war in Vietnam, Charles Manson and his followers. Great book if you like this genre.
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Are you looking for a great true crime book?  This is the story of a serial killer in the late '60's.  During the time of Kurt Vonnegut, and in the area he lives, Vonnegut is pulled into the mystery of girls that have gone missing.  As the bodies being to pile up, the police are faced with a mystery that they don't know how to solve.
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I received a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

I normally enjoy the true crime genre, but had a very difficult time getting into this one. The pacing felt extremely slow and most of the time I didn't know if I was reading a book that was intended to be historical fiction or biography and whether it was meant to be about Tony Costa, Kurt Vonnegut, or Norman Mailer. Any one of these people would have made for an interesting topic, but a book that continuously shifts gears and shuffles between all three was difficult for me to keep my head in.
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I am usually a huge fan of True Crime but wasn’t a fan of the way this was written. I felt that it was a little to fictionalized and the start was a little slow.
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The story of Antone Costa’s victims is tragic, but unfortunately they were not the main focus of the book.  I felt that too much focus was placed on Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut and their feud rather than on the killer or his victims. That said, I found the story interesting and well written and it has haunted my mind for days after finishing it.
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