top of page
The 'On the Hill' Series

The first book in the On the Hill Series. A must read for anyone interested in the long reach of the Mafia and why the mob never stops. Witnessing a la Costa nostra crime can be a death sentence from the devil himself. This adult novel is unputdownable until the shootout finish.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ This book is not a kid's book. It contains adult language — typical of Hill-speak and the Hill way of life.

Book two. In a daring and chilling story, Costello draws us into a sinister labyrinth of political intrigue and international terrorism, serving up an explosive cocktail of unrelenting action as one man is pushed to the edge. "Insomnia is so good," one reviewer wrote, "It will give you insomnia because you can't put it down."

Book three. A group of friends on the Hill bound by terrifying a mysterious synchronicity became humankind’s hope of survival in Costello's exhilarating, twist-filled novel. An Air Force Pilot and a NASA Scientist raced to unravel a global conspiracy and learn the truth about the space visitor. 

The excerpt below is typical of Costello's dialogue in Dead Kids Don't Speak. After witnessing a double  homicide, the four street-smart boys run and hide. From their hiding spot in the township garbage and refuge site, which they called the dump, they spot Porky Bananas, a mob hit man hot on their trail. Here's how they handled him.


Township Incinerator


     "He's coming up the dump road. See him? Isn't he the one that was following us on the tracks?" We moved to a barrier in the fort where we could look out over the burnt rubbish and appliances and down the dump road.

     "Oh, shit," I said, "yeah, that's him. That's Porky Bananas."

     "I thought you said the mysterious man was Porky?" Pete asked.

     "That's what Billy told me," I responded.

     "Jesus H. Christ," Gary said, "how the hell did he get here? Did he follow us?"

     "He must have," Mickey said. "Look closely at him. What's he holding?"

     We stared, not sure what to do. "I think it's a bottle," I said.

     "He's drunk," Gary observed. "Yeah, that's what it is, I think he's drunk."

     "Sure, looks that way," Pete said.

     "He's not just drunk," chided Mickey, "that mother is stone drunk."

     "I'll be goddamned," Gary said. "He can just about stand up." We watched him drain the bottle and throw it into a pile of trash.

     "Whoa," Mickey said, "he almost fell." Suddenly, Porky took two short steps forward and fell flat on his face. He was out cold. He lay there, motionless.

     "What do you think we should do?" Pete asked.

     "Let's go find out who he is," Gary said.

     "You're shitten me," Pete growled, "he'll shoot us. Maybe it's a trick."

      "Give me that hammer over there, Ronny," Gary said. "If you pussies want to stay here, fine. But I'm going to look him over, and if he gives me any shit, I'll nail him with the hammer."

     Among the four of us, Gary was by far the toughest. The thing was, I never saw him in a fight like I've seen other Hill kids, and I saw lots of fights. Gary was quiet tough, and nobody challenged him. He crawled out of the front opening of the fort, got in a crouch, and carefully slow-walked toward Porky, holding the hammer menacingly in his right hand. We followed him. I picked up a pipe near the appliances for insurance. We fell on our knees around him when we got down to Porky.

     "Pecker, what do you think," Mickey asked.

     "He either passed out from the whiskey, or he's dead," Gary replied. "Either way, he won't bother us."

     "I hope not," Pete said.

     "Let's try to roll him over on his back," Gary instructed. He was a big man. It took all of us to turn him over, and we didn't get it on the first try. We had to rock him. Gary spotted the gun in his chest holster. He reached in carefully, lifted it out, and stuck it in his pants. As Porky lay unconscious, we started a serious conversation.

     "Look," Mickey observed, "he's got white shit coming out of his mouth."

     "His breath stinks, too," Pete noted.

     "What about a wallet," I asked.

     "Damn," Gary said. "We should have thought of that when he was on his belly. Want to turn him over again?

     "I got a better idea," Mickey said, "let's pull his pants down."

     "Well?" Pete said, looking at his feet. "We better take off his shoes first." I got one, and Pete the other. We struggled with the laces but untied them and pulled his shoes off. 

     "His feet smell like my ass," Gary said. "All right, I'll undo his belt."

     After Gary unbuckled his belt, he pulled the zipper down, and he and Mickey slowly shimmied his pants down. Once they got them past the knees, it was easy. "Here's his wallet," Pete


     "Keep it," Gary insisted, "we'll look at it later. What about his shorts?"

     "His underpants?" Pete asked. "Have you lost your mind?"

     "We got his pants, wallet, and gun," Gary muttered almost to himself. "If we get his shorts, where's he gonna go? He's ours, then. We can go back to the Alamo and watch what he does."

     "We've got to roll him on his back again," I said.

     So we rocked and turned him over.

     "All right, you take em' off," Mickey said.

     "Me take them off?" Gary shot back. "Why me?"

     "It was your idea," Pete said. Gary looked down at Porky's shorts. We all did, but no one was first to make a move, and no one said a word.

     "All right, you assholes," Mickey said, "here goes." Mickey grabbed Porky's shorts by the waistband, pulled them down to his knees, and slipped them off his feet.

     "Here," Mickey said, "put them with his pants."

     "Nobody look at his pecker," I said, "but if you do, he's got Thor beat by ten miles."

     "Told you Italians don't need to eat cherries," Pete said.

     "Shit," Gary said, "he ain't got me beat."

     "Fine, then," Pete shot back, "pull down your zipper, and let's compare."

     "We ain't got time for that shit," Gary rebuked, "are you nuts?" Pete laughed.

     "Want to take everything back to the Alamo and watch

     "Wait," Mickey said. "We're taking his shoes, socks, pants, and underpants. If he wakes up, he can wrap his shirt and jacket around to hide his pecker. So, we need to take everything."

     "What if he goes straight up that bank and finds us," Pete asked.

     "That's doubtful," Mickey said, "but if he does, we got his gun so what's he gonna do?"

     "All right," Gary said, "let's take the rest of his shit off." That part was easy. I wrapped everything in his suit jacket and curled it up into a ball, then tied the sleeves around it.

     "Wait," Pete instructed, "I got an idea. Where do you think the nearest payphone is?"

     We studied Pete. Slowly but surely, it sunk in.

     "You aren't as dumb as you look, you son of a bitch," Gary howled, a smile on his face.

     "You think we should call the cops?" Mickey asked.

     "Yeah," Pete answered, "they get him, and that's another one down."

wake up?" I asked.

     "Anybody know what time it is?" I asked.

     "How's that have anything to do with his?" Mickey asked.

     "The guy working the trash claw in the incinerator," I answered, "maybe he'll call the cops."

     "Who?" Gary asked. "George?"

     "You know him?" Mickey mumbled.

     "Shit yeah," Gary said, "that's George Ferraco. He lives on the Hill. He's a good man and said he would give me a reference if I applied for a township job. You assholes don't know half the guys I know."

     "That's because you blew half of them," Pete taunted.

     "No," Gary responded, "you're mistaking me for your mother."

     "Well, he must be a loony if he'll give you a goddamn recommendation," Pete guffawed, then pushed up his glasses.

     "Alright, enough of that shit," Mickey said, "we don't have time for it. He wakes up, and we're screwed. Gary, can we go 

up there, and you ask George if he'll call the cops?"

     "Sure," Gary answered, "and he won't rat us out to the cops, either." Suddenly, Porky grunted and then farted. White shit was pouring out the corners of his mouth again.

     "Jesus H. Christ," Gary said, "his breath stinks."

     "His breath?" Pete said, "did you smell the fart?"

     "Yeah," Mickey replied. "He's got Skippy beat."

     "Who the fuck are you?" Porky asked, blinking his eyes. "What the fuck's gonin' on here?"

     "Let's go," Gary said, "Ronny has his shoes. Pete, the wallet? And I got his gun."

     "Where we goin,?" Mickey shouted.

     "The incinerator," Gary declared, "follow me." He got up and ran up the dump road toward the incinerator. We followed him.

     "Hey, you mother fuckers," Porky yelled, "where you goin' with my pants. Come back here, you little pricks. I'll kill every one of you."

     "Tell it to the cops," Mickey yelled over his shoulder.

     We high-tailed it up the dump road. We could hear Porky yelling, calling us every Italian and American name he knew. He was sitting up on the dump naked as the day he was born.



When Dr. Sylvia Stanton's autistic child was kidnapped, she went looking for her. Thinking that Irish mob leader Cormac Coogan kidnapped her, Dr. Stanton went to the shot and a beer neighborhood called Fishtown. On a tip, she went to Leo's Ale House — where a black woman was not welcomed. 

Leo's Alehouse

Tacony — 1965

     Sylvia went past Leo's and turned around. She saw what Perky meant about being careful. It sat between a warehouse and two abandoned buildings. No residences were close to it, and it was close to Torresdale Avenue and I-95. The street and sidewalks were dirty, and trash and papers were scattered around.

At the end of the block, a couple of bums hung out, holding bottles of cheap wine.

     She pulled over outside the abandoned building, shut off the engine, and got out. Leo's had a solid wood door so she couldn't see inside.

She opened the door and stepped in and was hit with the raunchy stench of stale beer. As the door closed behind her and she tried to adjust her eyes to the darkened bar, she saw a man get up from a table and approach her.

     "Sorry," he said, "we don't want any colored whores."

     "I'm not a whore," Sylvia said, "I'm a doctor."

     "Sure," he replied, "and I'm Bugs Bunny. Now get out." He was a low-class gruff, looking man, unshaven, dirty, and tough-looking. He stunk of cigar smoke and beer.

     "I'm here to see Rita."

     "I told you once. I'll not tell you again. We don't want no colored here, now get out before I throw you out." Sylvia's eyes had adjusted to the light. Several patrons were seated at five or so tables. Two men were at the bar. Everyone was watching Sylvia.

     She stepped aside and shouted, "I'm looking for Rita. I must speak to her, is Rita..." She didn't finish the sentence when the man grabbed her from behind. "Is Rita here? I need to speak to Rita," she hollered again.

     "Wait," a woman from the bar yelled. "Let her go."

     "We don't want no colored whores," the man holding her said.

     "Since when are you running things, Smoky?" the woman said. "Now, I said let her go unless you want Cormac over here pissed off." The man holding Sylvia released her but shoved her at the same time. Sylvia nearly lost her balance. She grabbed the frame of the door.

     "Darkie whore," he said.

     "Over here," Rita ordered.

Sylvia walked over to where Rita was standing. She had bright red hair, not dyed red but natural. She had a pretty face, was older than Sylvia, maybe in her fifties, was on the petite side, and had looked like a woman who's had a tough life. Sylvia sat down. Rita did, too.

     "Cormac said you'd be coming. Took you long enough. What did you say your name is?"

     "Sylvia. Cormac Coogan told you I was coming?"

     "Yeah, said you'd be here to treat the ladies. Once one gets somethin' it gets around pretty fast. Pretty soon, I've got half of my ladies on the shelf. If the ship crew or the longshoremen get it, they won't do business with me no more. Cormac didn't tell you that?"

     "Don't they use protection?" Sylvia asked.

"Cormac's their protection. Workin' for Cormac, they won't get beat up. Oh, wait. You mean that kind of protection. Oh, hell, no. The shipmen won't use rubbers, if that's what you mean. You'd have a better chance of them givin' you a thousand bucks," then Rita chuckled. "Protection, shit, now I know you're a doctor. Wasn't sure at first."

     "Why not?"

     "Cause you're colored. Didn't know they let colored women be doctors. Cormac told me you were colored, but it didn't sink in until now."

     "Did Cormac say anything to you about kidnapping a Negro child?"

     "Oh, no, listen. I've seen Cormac cut a man's eyes out, then slit his throat. But use a child in the business? He'd never do that. Was raised a Catholic on the streets of Dublin. He has his limits."

     "No, I didn't mean that. Have you or anyone seen him with a Negro kid?"

     "Whoa, what the hell are you gettin' at. Would Cormac take a colored child for his own? Have you lost your mind? If you weren't here to treat my ladies, I'd give you the back of my hand. Don't you go gettin' uppity and smartass. You're still a Negro, doctor, or not. And anyone of the people in here would beat the shit out of you if I asked them. Including the women."

     "No, I didn't mean that at all. Look, do you know why I'm here?"

     "To treat the ladies."

     "But do you know why I'm here?"

     "I figured you owed Cormac somethin.' But it's not my business to know why. Now, are you goin' to treat them or not?"

     "Yes, I want to treat them. But first, can I tell you something?"

     "Go ahead; I'm not goin' anywhere. But it better not be anymore about Cormac and a kid, or I'll bust your nose right here."

     "My husband is a doctor, too."

     "Weeooo, two colored doctors. What's this world comin' to?" Rita turned toward the bar and said, "Spuds, bring two whiskeys here."

     "Oh, no, thank you. I usually drink mixed drinks."

     "Well, honey, you're at Leo's now. You drink what we drink.

Go on, spill your guts. You got about five minutes, and it better be good, not down and dirty."

     "My husband..."

     "The doctor," Rita interrupted.

     "Yes, he was pulled over in West Philadelphia by two white cops and arrested for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. They put him in a cell at the holding center."

     "Colored doctor accused of resisting arrest? Now this'll be good. I gotta hear this one." Spuds put two drinks on the table.

     "He was alone in a cell when they put this Irish man in with him. He wanted my husband's seat and grabbed him, but my husband pushed him away, and he fell backward and hit his head. He died."

     "Wait," Rita said, with a bit of excitement in her voice, "I heard about that. I'll be dipped in shit. That was your husband that killed big Jim O'Sullivan?"

     Sylvia nodded.

     "I'll be goddamned. Spuds, bring the whole bottle. This woman's husband saved Cormac Coogan."

     "I'll drink to that, colored or not." a man two tables away yelled.

     "Hun, you better pick up that glass, these people want to toast you, and if you refuse, it'll piss them off."

     Sylvia picked up her glass of Jim Beam. "I've never had straight whiskey before, but I guess I could. What does it taste like?" She put the glass to her lips and took a rather large gulp.

     "That's it, Hun, drink up. Go on, babe, take another sip," Rita gushed, then she laughed.


In The Visitor, the alien from space came to Earth to reunite with his brother, held captive at Area 51, the CIA's hiding place in the Nevada desert. From the nearby Shoshone reservation, the captive alien, Badar, is removed from captivity by Shoshone riders and put on a train to reunite with his brother hidden in the refuse dump on the Hill.

Moapa River Paiute Reservation

Southern Nevada

9:16 PM — 1965

     Joe Maresco laid on the train horn as freight train Union Pacific 4929 left Las Vegas at 8:48 PM with 38 cars bound for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

     At Pittsburgh, eight cars would be separated and attached to another engine that would take the pulp onto York, Pennsylvania, and into the storage buildings of a large paper company in Spring Grove. Just before 4929 rolled into Pittsburgh, it would stop at the rail yard in McMurray, Pennsylvania, where it would get a quick maintenance check just before reaching its final destination.

     Shortly out of Vegas, 4929 followed the tracks north over Interstate 15 and slowly picked up speed as it made its way toward Moapa, Nevada, the gateway to the desert. After rolling through Crystal, a small town with two traffic lights, 4929 cut through the east end of the Moapa River Paiute Reservation.

     Maresco was 4929's chief engineer, and Harry Turner was the conductor.

"Harry," Maresco cried, "we'll keep 'er speed down until we get through the reservation. Then, once we cross the Muddy River, we'll open 'er back up."

     "Roger that, Joe," Turned hollered.

     The Paiutes have been fighting Union Pacific for several years to stop their trains from moving too fast through their reservation, disturbing their livestock, and creating dust storms that clog up their water system.

     If they wanted, the Paiutes could cause problems for Union Pacific. Therefore, the railway company moved their trains slowly through Paiute territory, staying under 20 miles per hour. They also refrained from using the horn unless they had to.

     "Easy as she goes," trainman Paul Simpson yelled as the big diesel engine entered Paiute territory and roared along the southeast edge of the reservation.

      "Joe, you see that light up ahead?"

     "Yeah, I see it," Maresco yelled back. "Looks like a fire."

     "On the tracks?"

     "Damn, if it don't look it," Maresco cried. "Let's cut 'er speed.

Bring 'er on down slowly."

      "We're down to 10 and dropping speed."

     "It's right on the tracks, Joe," Turner yelled.

     "Cut 'er back. We're not runnin' through this until we see what the hell it is."

     "Crawling at 5," Simpson hollered,.

"We're going to stop just in front of it. What's your take on it, Harry?"

     "Damn Indian kids, probably," Turner replied.

     "Take er' down," Maresco cried.

With steam billowing from beneath the diesel engine, the 4929 slowly pulled up to a large fire burning steadily on the tracks. Slowly, 4929 came to a halt.

     "Whoever started it left enough tree limbs to make us stop," Turner complained. "It shouldn't delay us too long."

     "We need a few trainmen to come and look at this," Maresco ordered.

Turner reached up and grabbed the handheld speaker above him.

     "We need a look-see up here in front of the engine," he barked into the handheld. "Trainmen 38 and 39 front and center. Bring the fire extinguishers with you." Turner then hit the horn.

     Unbeknownst to the train crew, three-quarters of the way back on the 4929, five Shoshone ponies — a crossbreed of the horse  Christopher Columbus brought to the Caribbean — galloped alongside the cars in the dark desert night.

      On the lead pony was Shoshone Chief Mooragootch, followed by four other ponies — including a thoroughbred carrying the alien Badar. When the 4929 stopped, the Shoshone pulled up alongside a boxcar with stacked-up pulp rolls. Mooragootch knew the train had to stop before the boxcar's door handle was released, and they could open it. When the train did stop,

Mooragootch hopped off his pony and climbed up into the car. He pushed the bar and opened the door slightly, just enough for Badar to squeeze in the boxcar.

     The three other Shoshone warriors dismounted and helped Badar off his horse and up to the boxcar, where Mooragootch helped pull him inside.         The Shoshones closed the door, pulled down the handle, and quickly rode off. When the train crew put out the fire and cleared the tracks, the alien Badar and Mooragotch were in the boxcar and off to Pittsburgh on their way to the Hill.

bottom of page