Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil ~~ John Berendt

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Genteel society ladies who compare notes on their husbands' suicides. A hilariously foul-mouthed black drag queen. A voodoo priestess who works her roots in the graveyard at midnight. A morose inventor who owns a bottle of poison powerful enough to kill everyone in town. A prominent antiques dealer who hangs a Nazi flag from his window to disrupt the shooting of a movie. And a redneck gigolo whose conquests describe him as a "walking streak of sex."

These are some of the real residents of Savannah, Georgia, a city whose eccentric mores are unerringly observed -- and whose dirty linen is gleefully aired -- in this utterly irresistible book. At once a true-crime murder story and a hugely entertaining and deliciously perverse travelogue, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is as bracing and intoxicating as half-a-dozen mint juleps.
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Time Period
  • Contemporary


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"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is really a novel about the city of Savannah its people and history.

"Esquire" writer, John Berendt is in Savannah to write a story about the extravagant holiday parties that Jim Williams has yearly.

Williams is one of those true characters of the area. He's an antique dealer who was influential in the restoration of Savannah's historical district. He lives in the ancestrial home of songwriter Johnny Mercer.

Williams is accused of murdering his companion, Danny Hansford, who is known for his drug dependency and explosions of temper.

Brendt lays out the scenario slowly, perhaps in sync with the pace of life in the city. We learn of the history of the city, some of the facts in the redevelopment and the mix of interesting people who inhabit the area.

It is also of note to see the society members who attend Williams' parties and are so nice to him, to be sure they get invited to the next bash. However, when he's accused of murder, their attitudes change and he's given the cold shoulder.

I enjoyed the book but felt it was a bit slow. I did feel that the author brought the city to life and told me about the lifestyle of some of the people, also a glimpse of what does go on in this garden of good and evil.
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