Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, May 12, 2010 - True Crime - 400 pages
166 Reviews
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • “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

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 enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
48
4 stars
82
3 stars
24
2 stars
10
1 star
2

Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - phoenixcomet - LibraryThing

John Berendt crafts an engaging novel surrounding the real world death of Danny Hansford at the hands of Jim Williams, a multi-millionaire antique dealers. More than a murder story, Midnight in the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TheDivineOomba - LibraryThing

I can see why this is a best seller - Its full of well written, quirky characters, a never ending murder trial, everything needed to grab the attention of a reader. Set in Savannah, Georgia, John ... Read full review

Contents

An Evening in Mercer House
3
Destination Unknown
24
The Sentimental Gentleman
37
Settling In
51
The Inventor
61
The Lady of Six Thousand Songs
77
The Grand Empress of Savannah
94
Sweet Georgia Browns
124
Trial
210
A Hole in the Floor
232
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
238
Lafayette Square We Are Here
254
Sonny
263
Notes on a Rerun
276
The Pod
291
Lunch
299

A Walking Streak of Sex
128
It Aint Braggin If YReally Done It
141
News Flash
166
PART
169
Gunplay
171
Checks and Balances
180
The Party of the Year
186
Civic Duty
202
Black Minuet
309
Talk of the Town
329
Another Story
341
Lucky Number
351
Glory
365
And the Angels Sing
370
Afterward
384
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

The son of two writers, John Berendt grew up in Syracuse, New York. He earned a B.A. in English from Harvard University, where he worked on the staff of The Harvard Lampoon. After graduating in 1961, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in publishing. Berendt has written for David Frost and Dick Cavett, was editor of New York magazine from 1977 to 1979, and wrote a monthly column for Esquire from 1982 to 1994.

Berendt first traveled to Savannah in the early 1980s, when he realized that he could fly there for a three-day weekend for the price of “a paillard of veal served on a bed of wilted radicchio” [p. 24] in one of New York’s trendier restaurants. Over the ensuing eight years his visits became more frequent and extended, until he was spending more time in Savannah than in New York.

Part of the appeal, Berendt says, lay in the city’s penchant for morbid gossip: “People in Savannah don’t say, ‘Before leaving the room, Mrs. Jones put on her coat.’ Instead, they say, 'Before leaving the room, Mrs. Jones put on the coat that her third husband gave her before he shot himself in the head.” (Entertainment Weekly, 3/11/94, p. 52)

Since the publication and unprecedented success of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Berendt has become a Savannah celebrity and was even presented with the key to the city. “I took it down to City Hall one night to see if it would work, but it didn't.” (Syracuse Post Standard, 4/5/1994)

Bibliographic information