The Babysitter by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan, 3.5 Stars

I love me some true crime. And I suppose that’s morbid, but I’ve always been fascinated by true crime since I was a child. And it never seemed strange to me until my husband joined the family for a vacation and he wondered why my entire family pretty much watched true crime 24-7. But really, isn’t it better to watch that then the news or political shows?

And so of course I’ve read pretty much every single Ann Rule book available. And when she died, I was sad of course for her family and friends, but more sad perhaps that there would be no more books. Because a good true crime book is hard to come by. They definitely read more like a news story than a novel, but finding a way to tell that story over the course of 300-400 pages and have it stay interesting, is a true challenge.

So I took a chance on an unknown book by a first-time author who had spent summers with a serial killer, unbeknownst to her, for pretty much her whole life. It’s a pretty interesting story!

From the Publisher:

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 life. 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.

My Review:

The Babysitter is just the true-crime tale that I needed in the dead of winter here in Chicago. Because it’s true crime (that checks a box), then it takes place on Cape Cod (dreamy) during the 1960’s (which lends such a nice nostalgic touch.) Liza, the co-author and who lived the story, is a young girl who’s mother is too busy partying and meeting men to really bother to parent. And what’s worse, she clearly favors Liza’s little sister and treats her more like a burden than a daughter.

Liza’s lack of attention or affection from her mother left her very needy. And so, when her mother would basically leave her or her sister with anyone who was nearby and could “watch” them while she was out gallivanting, Liza sought out affection from others. And in retrospect, she was INCREDIBLY lucky that nothing worse happened to her. I know that the 60’s and 70’s were a lax time, but that’s when child predators and serial killer ran rampant!

And of course, Liza did end up in the company of a serial killer. But one that was incredibly kind to her and her sister. He bought them ice cream, and drove them around in his truck on adventures. Of course, no one had any idea what he was up to in his spare time.

The Babysitter is a chilling tale that could have been so much worse. Still, it’s an interesting read and is told well by the authors. It makes me think a bit of six degrees of separation. Except this was one degree, and it look Liza nearly 30 years to discover how close she had been.

The Babysitter is a must-read for any true crime junkie. Special thanks to Atria books and Netgalley for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out March 2, 2021. Get your copy!


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