In Fact or Fiction I recommend a fiction and nonfiction book on the same topic. This month let’s go to the sand dunes and salt ponds of that perfect beach read setting, Cape Cod. You can choose a laugh out loud novel of a wronged woman seeking revenge, a much darker true crime story of a gruesome serial killer or both! Either way, you’ll go beyond the beach read and discover a more complex picture of the Cape.
Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins
Lillie Silva loves her life. Well, who wouldn’t? She has the best job in the world as a certified nurse midwife. She lives in a charming house on Cape Cod with her therapist husband Brad. She’s also a proud mama about to see her only child off to college in Montana.
Her idyllic life implodes when Brad, who seemingly can only speak in therapeutic platitudes, announces he needs to find his “joy.” This means dumping Lillie and marrying a very young, very beautiful widow who just moved to the Cape.
Now the fun begins! Revenge may be sweet, but it sure stinks terribly. Lillie taps into her joy by the inventive use of dairy, pee, skunks and shrimp. Of course, the insufferable Brad deserves every stenchy whiff. But Lillie comes to realize his new wife Melissa (the former Missy Jo Crump of West Virginia) may be someone worth knowing after all.
Kristan Higgins just gets better and better. Out of the Clear Blue Sky is a thoroughly entertaining novel about a resilient woman.
Helltown by Casey Sherman
There’s plenty of sand dunes and salty air in Casey Sherman’s Helltown. But this stomach-turning true crime account reveals a much seamier side of charming Cape Cod. In the late 1960s Provincetown, on the very tip of Cape Cod, was an enclave for hippies, drug users, artists and writers (among the latter, both Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut feature heavily in this book). Selling drugs and stealing hearts was carpenter, snitch and babysitter Tony Costa.
Charmed by his eloquent conversation, philosophical musings, and ready supply of drugs, young women flocked to the handsome handyman, only to discover Tony wasn’t who he seemed. Yes, Tony had a very dark side, an evil alter ego he named Cory. Cory hunted, Cory killed, Cory dismembered women and buried them in an old Puritan cemetery. True crime purists may object to the “elements of fiction” and the odd inclusion of Mailer and Vonnegut, but overall Helltown delivers a gripping account of horrific crimes.