Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Author:John Berendt 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, suspensefu... more »l, 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: A Savannah Story is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city is certain to become a modern classic.« less
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Very different - a nonfiction work that reads like a novel, a travel guide, and a first-person account (The author is a character in the book and references his writing of the book within the story)
The book revolves around Savannah, Georgia and a murder trial that went on in the 1980s. The author spends a lot of time on the unique social dynamics of Savannah and the eccentric personalities that made up the city.
Good for it's unique approach and character portrayals. Fascinating if you are from or interested in Savannah. An average story (made more interesting by the fact that its true).
While this stunning work of non-fiction is undoubtedly well-written and interesting, after reading it, you almost feel physically and morally dirty after having consorted with the cast of characters in this book. It's a study in the underbelly of humanity, how Southerners appear polite, virtuous, and cleansed, but can say the nastiest things behind your back, hide the dirtiest secrets, and struggle with the dichotomy between how they want to appear to society and who they really are.
This was supposedly a true story of a murder that happened in Savannah in the 80s. A rich, homosexual, antique dealer is accused of killing young Danny Handsford, an employee of his. First of all, I had a real hard time believing this book is actually non-fiction. Secondly, if it was Fiction, it would be terrible. I DID like the information about Savannah and how it related to the rest of the south and the rest of the country for that matter. That was very interesting. I Thought the book tended to be slow in some parts. I thought there were parts of this book that had nothing at all to do with the actual story. Like the Alpha Ball. It was an interesting part of the book but I am sitting here wondering why the author felt the need to put it in. I am glad I read this, but I am also glad I am done.
Don't let the awful movie ruin this one for you - this is one of the best books I have read, and the movie was one of the worst movies I've seen. I am STILL holding a grudge against Spacey, Eastwood, and everyone else who had anything to do with that heinous movie. Enjoy the book!!
I'm not sure how to describe this book. I needed to read a true crime story for a reading challenge. This book tells about how the author moved to Savannah, enjoying the city while getting to know some of its colorful people. He comes to know Jim Williams, a rich antique dealer. One night Williams shoots and kills Danny Hansford, a volatile young man who worked for him. Jim claimed self-defense, but the evidence tells something different.
This did not read like a non-fiction book. The author introduces us to various unique individuals who lived in Savannah in the 1980's. There is a man who walks an invisible dog, a con artist who lives in empty mansions while the owner is away, a Voodoo Priestess, and a drag queen. Each person had their own little story told in an amusing fashion. The crime portion of the story doesn't happen until nearly the middle of the book; then the trial, appeal, and re-trials are woven throughout the rest of the story.
I visited Savannah last year and heard some of the stories in this book while touring the historic district and Bonaventure Cemetery. It's a beautiful city and the author does a great job of making you visualize the city with its stunning architecture and parks. I thought the true crime portion of the story was weak, maybe because it was spread out through the second half of the book. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Jeff Woodman whose narration was outstanding. Each character had a different unique voice. Overall, I'd give the book 3.5 Stars on a scale of 1-5; but the narration gets a 10.
Melissa S. reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on
An excellent book with interesting characters, a solid mystery, and a look behind the curtain that separates Savannah from the rest of the US. Written like a novel and one of the best mystery non-fiction books I've read in quite a while.