This chilling true story and “harrowing account of the evil that can lurk around the edges of girlhood” (Carolyn Murnick, author of The Hot One)—reminiscent of Ann Rule’s classic The Stranger Beside Me—follows a little girl longing for love who finds friendship with her charismatic babysitter, unaware that he is a vicious serial killer.
Growing up on Cape Cod in the 1960s, Liza Rodman was a lonely little girl. During the summers, while her mother worked days in a local motel and danced most nights in the Provincetown bars, her babysitter—the kind, handsome handyman at the motel where her mother worked—took her and her sister on adventures in his truck. He bought them popsicles and together, they visited his “secret garden” in the Truro woods. To Liza, he was one of the few kind, understanding, and safe adults in her life.
But there was one thing she didn’t know; their babysitter was a serial killer.
Though Tony Costa’s gruesome case made screaming headlines in 1969 and beyond, Liza never made the connection between her friendly babysitter and the infamous killer of numerous women, including four in Massachusetts, until decades later.
Haunted by nightmares and horrified by what she learned, Liza became obsessed with the case. Now, she and cowriter Jennifer Jordan reveal “a suspenseful portrayal of murderous madness in tandem with a child’s growing loneliness, neglect, and despair, a narrative collision that will haunt” (Sarah Weinman, author of The Real Lolita) you long after you finish it.
Rodman debuts with an engrossing memoir that focuses on her relationship with serial killer Tony Costa (aka the Cape Cod Cannibal). As children in the late 1960s, Rodman and her little sister spent summers in Provincetown, Mass., where her mother worked at a motel. A promiscuous alcoholic, the mother would fob her two children off on any willing adult so she could bar hop. One of them was handyman Tony, whom Rodman remembers as a kind man who would take Rodman and her sister along with him on errands he was doing around the Cape. In 1969, the police arrested Costa; he was convicted of two murders and sentenced to life in prison, where he killed himself in 1974. Only in 2005, when Rodman confronted her mother about what happened to Costa, did she learn to her shock that he was a drug-addled pervert and serial killer who dismembered his female victims and buried them in the woods. The authors smoothly blend Rodman's affecting account of her childhood with thorough research into Costa's crimes. This tragic tale of a dysfunctional family and a psychopath is a page-turner.
Well written, intertwining the two lives was very effective, like two stories in one.
Great read and a page turner!
Really enjoyed this book. The alternating stories of Tony (the serial killer) and Liza (his young friend and fan) are told in a deeply captivating weave. I loved being immersed in the visuals and bohemian vibe of 60s Provincetown—and the desolation of Cape Cod winters