Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Books | True Crime / Murder / General
THE LANDMARK NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city: “Elegant and wicked.... [This] might be the first true-crime book that makes the reader want to book a bed and breakfast for an extended weekend at the scene of the crime." —The New York Times Book Review • 30th Anniversary Edition with a New Afterword by the Author.Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this true-crime book has become a modern classic.
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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"Overall a positive read, but it took me a long time to get though. Characters were interesting and the imagery was vivid but I found the plot slow. Enjoyed it mostly because I recently visited Savannah and loved the city - reading the book assuaged my nostalgia, making me feel like I was still there. "
"Boring, slow read. I made it to the end, but should have just DNF as it wasn’t worth it. "
": I found myself a little disappointed reading this book. It was well written but I didn’t feel it was really the true crime genre. To me, this felt more like a memoir about a man’s love for Savannah and fascination with the people he encountered there with some intrigue thrown in here and there. The cast of characters are interesting and engaging but I felt I knew more about the Lady Chablis at the end than I did about the actual crime. Savannah is still very much an old southern town. Even in the 1980s, tradition is observed with reverence and strictly adhered to. It should come as no shock that the shots that rang out from the study of one James Williams would cause quite the stir at all levels of Savannah society. One of their most prominent and influential citizens is now on trial for murder. "