The babysitter My summers with a serial killer

Liza Rodman

Large print - 2021

"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 and understanding adults in her Everyone thought he was just a "great guy." But there was one thing she didn't know; their babysitter was a serial killer. Some of his victims were buried-in pieces-right there, in his garden in the woods. 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 the chilling and unforgettable true story of a charming but brutal psychopath through the eyes of a young girl who once called him her friend."--

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True crime stories
Thorndike, Maine : Center Point Large Print 2021.
Center Point Large Print edition
Item Description
Regular print version previously published by: Atria Books.
Physical Description
470 pages (large print) : illustrations ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 463-468)
Main Author
Liza Rodman (author)
Other Authors
Jennifer Jordan, 1958- (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Spending her summers in Provincetown as a child, Rodman was lonely, living in the motels where her mother found work. After her divorce, her mom was intent on taking full advantage of the swinging sixties, often leaving her two daughters with anyone willing to babysit, including Cecilia, another motel worker, who was kind and gave big, warm hugs. Rodman was particularly enthralled with Cecilia's son Tony, who bought the girls Popsicles and let them tag along to the dump and to his marijuana "garden" in the woods. Little did they know that this was also where Tony buried the women he murdered. Half of the story is in Rodman's first-person recollections of Provincetown and Tony (she did not know he was a serial killer until she was an adult), while the other half recounts Tony's disastrous marriage, drug use, and psychological breakdowns. While some parts get a bit repetitive, and the sections on Tony could have benefited from more rigorous journalism, the intimate details and easy-to-read style will keep readers glued to the page.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

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. Agent: Jill Kneerim, Kneerim & Williams. (Mar.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

A true-crime "hybrid work of memoir and narrative nonfiction." With journalist Jordan, Rodman recalls her preteen summers on Cape Cod with a younger sister and a mother "so self-absorbed that she unwittingly left her children in the care of a psychopath." For a book about vulnerable children--a topic that usually tugs the heartstrings--the narrative is not as affecting as one would expect. One strand tells the story of Antone "Tony" Costa, a handyman "who just about everybody considered the friendly, even charming guy next door"--until he was convicted of the murders of Patricia Walsh and Mary Anne Wysocki and believed to have killed at least three other women. A second strand involves Rodman's painful relationship with her distracted mother, who worked as a tourist-season motel housekeeper and often let Costa take her daughters for drives--including to a forest where he had buried his victims--when the author was between the ages of 8 and 10. The two threads alternate in a briskly written text that isn't for the faint of heart: Costa committed gruesome dismemberments and other sadistic acts about which the adult Rodman has understandably had nightmares. Yet the story is curiously lacking in drama, in part because the book doesn't reveal the author to have been in serious danger of harm from Costa. In the absence of high suspense, the authors try to pump up the tension with pulpy clichés ("his blood went cold"), stilted dialogue ("That kid is trouble….Mark my words"), and a deceptive-appearances theme familiar to the genre. The most noteworthy material appears in an epilogue, where, after excellent detective work, Jordan and Rodman establish conclusively that Costa did not kill three women he was suspected of murdering--a payoff that for followers of the case may be worth the 300-page wait. A grisly but low-impact tale of horrific crimes and their impact on the author. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.