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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2021 Marathon Mediaworks, Inc. and Jennifer Jordan. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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What listeners say about The Babysitter

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A True Crime Must Read

I'm a true crime book and podcast junkie and thought The Babysitter was very well researched. I liked how there were two narrators; one depicting Liza, and one that went over Tony's history throughout his life. The two storylines really kept my interest. This was one of the rare audible True Crime books that I could not miss a minute. There's no extra unneccessary fluff and the narrator's both have very pleasant voices. Use your credit on this, you will not regret it.

17 people found this helpful

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not what was promised

Okay. I have no issue with the story its a real story. But this isn't really a true crime. This is about her being abused by her mother and knowing the serial killer as a kid. thats it

14 people found this helpful

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Very little Serial Killer; Child Sexual Situations

I am returning this book.

I got about a third of the way through when suddenly we're hearing how the author convinced a young child to engage in sexual activity. Not only does the scene add ZERO to the subject matter, it is explicit and nearly made me throw up. The way it is described is an attempt to titilate the reader/listener when the subjects of the scene are children under 12. As a survivor myself, I am not going to subject myself to that kind of thing nor am I going to pay the author for the sickening experience.


That aside, anyone who is interested in a new perspective on the serial killer and his interactions with the author should look elsewhere. This book is far more 'personal memoir' (child sexual encounters and all) and very little insight on the killer. I knew when buying this to start with that there would be some stuff that was off topic. But when 95% of what I read had nothing to do with the killer? No.


Even the introduction to the story felt forced. The author wants us to believe that she made it into her 20s/30s without realizing that her babysitter was an active serial killer. Despite her mother telling her that that just wasn't true, claiming the killer was not her babysitter, and the author's claim that she did not remember much about him or that time period, she then goes on to offer some extremely explicit and vivid imagery of just those things... And more.


TL;DR: Explicit child sexual encounters, very little about the killer, a forced feeling throughout, an unreliable source (herself). Not worth the credit.


It really does feel like the author wanted to write 'her story' but thought there was nothing special about herself and so used her tenuous connection to this killer as a way to trick people (like me) into buying the book. Which is one of the things I love about Audible. I can return absolute trash like this book.

12 people found this helpful

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Good Narrator Histrionic Author

The author claims she was more afraid of her mother than a serial killer. Had she done her research, she would know that predators rely on charisma and likability to lure in their prey.

The author also writes about terrible abuse. She is completely unforgiving to the ex-wife of Tony Costa, her own mother and even her own little sister; all who endured horrific abuses.She chalks it up to "their choices" or excuses herself as an abuser by blaming her mother or her genetics. All the while, she recounts the times she was in danger of or almost abused and blames her mother (who, by the way, raised two daughters, single-handedly, in the '70s).

The author is inconsiderate of the challenges her own mother faced and, although she was treated unkindly, at times, the abuse she endured from her mother pales in comparison to the abuse she doled out to her own little sister... and I get the feeling she probably minimized this as much as she exaggerated her "traumatic upbringing".

in my opinion, the author is plagued by envy and jealousy of her mother, her sister and anyone who is a little prettier or has a little more than she does. it hurts my heart to listen to her slander her own mother the way she did in this book. I don't understand why anyone would try so hard to make their own mother look more deviant then a sadistic, rapist serial killer... all while pretty much ignoring the fact that her absent father is probably more responsible for her insecurities and proclivity to dangerous, toxic men than her mother.

Good lord this book is a cowardly attack on an 80-year-old woman who is solely responsible for all the good graces the author has received including being able to write this book. In addition, he wasn't her babysitter, she didn't spend Summers with him (more like a few encounters) the sum total of her experience with Tony Costa is a long list of what ifs. What if he had killed me!!?? What if I witessed something and blacked it out!!??
Here's one, what if you used your limited association with a serial killer as an opportunity to sell millions of copies of a book that is really a last-ditch effort to stick it to your octogenarian mother? Psssh. I'd tell you you should be ashamed of yourself but you'll probably write an entire novel about it.
Lastly, she wonders why her life was spared when the answer is clear. Hey Liza! You were spared because you had a mother who gave a s*** about you. You had a mother who always knew where you were and who you were with.

10 people found this helpful

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Heartbreaking and compelling

My heart hurts for Liza and the way she was raised. The research for the story is stellar. The way the writers weave the stories with the facts makes the story interesting and compelling. I am not a fan of mysteries nor do I enjoy real crime stories. I loved this book.

6 people found this helpful

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Made me tear up.

I'm sure it's a good read but I only made it 1/2 through the 6th chpt. My ex gf. and I have 2 sons 10 and 11 yrs. They talked about moving in w.me so much when they turn 13 she stopped visitation, now we're at war. I can't bare to hear of children being neglected when my son's that are my life are taken away b.c they love their father too much. I'm sorry the author went through that. I'd love to get my hands on a parent like that. Sorry all.

6 people found this helpful

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Interesting, Well-Told New True Crime!

A very unique take on the serial killer yarn. I found Liza's story heart-breaking, and all too familiar. I'd never read or heard about Antone 'Tony' Costa, and found his story very interesting as a fan of the genre.

All in all it was a solid nonfiction, well researched and well written. The only negative I'd say is that the author didn't provide a narrative for how the crimes played our and never offers a solid theory as to his motivation for committing the crimes. Not to say the topic isn't addressed, but it is kept to generalizations. I guess I was expecting more due to the comparisons to Anne Rules Stranger Beside Me, IMHO the quintessential serial killer bio. You shouldn't expect Anne Rule level details, otherwise you will be disappointed. Also, there clearly seemed to be parts where the author stretched to maintain the thread of connection between Liza and Tony's story lines.

Overall, I recommend this to all True Crime junkies like me. It's well told, and the unique connection between the author and the subject definitely makes it worth the time.

2 people found this helpful

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The Babysitter

What an amazing book!! Liza lived a nightmare, that she didn’t realize for years, and through a tortuous relationship with her mother. Beautifully written, narrated and executed! Well done. Buy this book, you won’t regret it!

2 people found this helpful

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GREAT audio book 👍

I personally loved listening to this book. great narration and very well written. I had to keep reminding myself that it was a non fiction story. I especially likes the 2 different story's from tony and Liza. thanks for the great book

1 person found this helpful

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Great one

Starts off slow but keep going. It’s well worth it. I finished this in 3 days.

1 person found this helpful