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

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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About the Book
  • Published:
    Dec-1995 (Hardcover)
    Jun-1999 (Paperback)
  • Formats:
    Print / eBook / Audio
  • Pages:
  • Purchase:
Time Period
  • Contemporary


What Readers Are Saying
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This is a book about Savannah, Georgia - its people, history, scenery, and its idiosyncrasies. I've always been fascinated with the cities in the deep south, especially Savannah, so that is why I read this book. Berendt does a great job of depicting Savannah the way I'm sure that they want to be depicted. He lived off and on in the city for eight years while he was writing his book. There is everything here for readers to enjoy - a murder in a big mansion in the city, and the ensuing legal battles from that, society balls and socializing, and even a voodoo queen. There is even a very lovable, piano playing con artist who winds his way into the hearts of the citizens of Savannah, in spite of his blatantly illegal dealings. We get an intimate look at the people who live in Savannah, and their lives. We are even entertained by a black drag queen by the name of Chablis, who, I think, is by far the strongest character in the book. I can tell by Berendt's writing that he loves the city and its people. He has used a loving hand to write every chapter in this charming book. I thoroughly enjoyed the virtual trip to this quaint city and would like to visit someday.
"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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