Cover Image: Helltown


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While marketed as a non-fiction, true crime novel, Helltown is actually a mix of truth and artistic liberty. Having read The Babysitter, I was aware of serial killer, Tony Costa, and his depraved crimes but this book provided a lot more information about who Costa was and what drove him to commit his heinous acts. The part of this book that I found distracting and unnecessary was the connection the author attempted to make between Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, and Costa. There was a lot of information about Mailer and Vonnegut’s pasts and their rivalry with each other in addition to their connections to the Costa case/trial. It was almost like a completely different book. The information about Costa was fascinating but I wish that the author had stuck to actual timelines and not adjusted things for the stories sake.
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Unfortunately, I DNF this one.  I tried to get into it but just couldn't get drawn into the story.  Maybe I will try again later.
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Helltown is a true crime story about serial killer Tony Costa who terrorized Cape Town in 1969. He was only convicted of 2 murders (and there were more) and sentenced to life in prison x2. 

This book was gruesome. It took me over a month to read this because I had to keep putting it down and walking away. I also didn’t like the way this book was presented. I’m a facts person, just give me the facts and give them to me straight. This felt like an “as seen on tv true crime shows” recreation with added dialogue and tangents. I much would’ve preferred the author present this book without the added flair.  This read like a fiction novel instead of a true crime novel and I didn’t love it like I thought I would.
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This book was interesting and very well-written. I would likely want to read more from this author and will recommend this to friends. I can see why this book is so highly regarded.
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I ended up listening to this one on audio and it was a tough one.  I didn't enjoy it too much and it was a bit graphic, but understandable given the subject matter.
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I was excited to read Helltown based on it being a story about a Cape Cod serial killer. However, this was one that took me a bit to get into and actually want to finish. I’m a fan of imagery and descriptive writing, but this one was just a bit too wordy. I felt like instead of the story being enhanced the book was just using more words than necessary to hit a word count quota. Sadly, it just distracted me so much I could only read this a few chapters at a time and it took me a while to finish. By the time I’d go back to read more, I’d at times had forgotten what was happening in the story. Not my favorite.
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Thank you NetGalley, Sourcebooks, and Casey Sherman for this arc in exchange for my honest review.

I absolutely love true crime and this was a story I didn't know much about so I was very excited to read this book! While I had a hard time finishing this one, it was a little wordy for me at times, I did learn a lot!
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A serial killer with charisma!

Casey Sherman writes about a Serial Killer on Cape Cod in Helltown: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer on Cape Cod. I am a fan of true crime stories. This is the first book written by this author that I've read. It's 1969, the height of the hippie era, and it's all about peace and love in Massachusetts. Well, not for all. Meet the twisted Tony Costa, he set his sights and terror on young women. It's interesting how writers, Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer are caught in a competition for the next best writing subject, and then, here comes Costa. This book was written very well. It was detailed and terrifying, especially because of the truths in the story, and it is not just about Costa, but his victims, and the men who want to tell the story. Costa became one of Massachusetts' infamous serial killers, and this author has definitely been able to narrate the story in a way that shows the depth of each person, and how lives are intertwined. Helltown: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer on Cape Cod is a definite recommendation by Amy's Bookshelf Reviews. I read this book to give my unbiased and honest review. I look forward to reading many more titles by this author. Amy's Bookshelf Reviews recommends that anyone who reads this book, to also write a review.
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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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