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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994)

by John Berendt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
13,398262359 (3.86)434
"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: 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."--Jacket.… (more)
Recently added byjtmartinstl, private library, ejmw, ArcherKel, astoshamarie, bachern, xenoglossy, jeffreyrs, JoeB1934, Amy.McKay
Legacy LibrariesThomas C. Dent
  1. 20
    The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Offering rich details of Savannah in the 1980s (Midnight in the Garden) and Chicago in the 1890s (Devil in the White City), these well-researched and dramatic recreations of terrible crimes are equally compelling, despite differences in time period and location.… (more)
  2. 00
    Run with the Horsemen by Ferrol Sams (libelulla1)
    libelulla1: Filled with quirky characters in a southern town.
  3. 00
    The Library Book by Susan Orlean (Othemts)
  4. 01
    The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale (libelulla1)
    libelulla1: Both are true crime told in narrative format and the crime in each is never fully explained, only speculated about.
  5. 12
    The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean (VictoriaPL)
  6. 01
    Murder in Mississippi by John Safran (Elcee)
  7. 13
    Without Reservation: The Making of America's Most Powerful Indian Tribe and Foxwoods, the World's Largest Casino by Jeff Benedict (jbvm)
    jbvm: This is another 'truth is stranger than fiction' work involving local politics and criminal investigation.
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» See also 434 mentions

English (259)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (262)
Showing 1-5 of 259 (next | show all)
If you are looking for a good murder mystery to sink your teeth into, then put this book down for another day. This book is more about the culture of Savannah then about the plot itself. If you would like to dive into the city, the people, and the history/culture then I would definitely recommend this book. I like stories that flow more than this story does, and I picked it up for the mystery more than the culture. I believe, had I picked up this book with a different mind-set I would have enjoyed it more. ( )
  ArcherKel | Aug 17, 2022 |
When I originally read this book way back when, I read no non-fiction at all. This was the one that changed that and made it possible for me to enjoy a story about real-life. ( )
  christyco125 | Jul 4, 2022 |
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 Garden of Good and Evil is a story of the isolated city and peoples that populate Savannah, Georgia in the 1980s. ( )
  phoenixcomet | Jun 22, 2022 |
I am from the South, born and raised. I am very familiar with Georgia, have spent alot of time there. I loved this book! I enjoyed experiencing the area through the eyes of someone else. The people you meet are delightful, the descriptions of the locale are spot on, and the true crime story is interesting. This book is an entertaining, and at times humorous, look into the town and residents of an idealistic Southern town with loads of personality. Loved every minute of it! ( )
  Jfranklin592262 | Apr 30, 2022 |
This book uses a celebrated murder trial as a vehicle to introduce the reader to Savannah, Georgia and some of it's more colourful inhabitants.[return][return]The fist half of the book is spent introducing us around the place, and helps set the scene for the second half of the book: the murder of Danny by his boss (lover?) Jim. [return][return]Such are things that I remember more about the town than I do about the trial (and the result). ( )
  nordie | Apr 18, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 259 (next | show all)
Elegant and wicked.... Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil 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.
added by GYKM | editThe New York Times Book Review
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Berendt, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carson, Carol DevineCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heald, AnthonyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original title
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People/Characters
Important places
Important events
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Epigraph
Dedication
For my parents
First words
He was tall, about fifty, with darkly handsome, almost sinister features: a neatly trimmed mustache, hair turning silver at the temples, and eyes so black they were like the tinted windows of a sleek limousine—he could see out, but you couldn't see in.
Quotations
These, then, were the images in my mental gazetteer of Savannah: rum-drinking pirates, strong-willed women, courtly manners, eccentric behaviour, gentle words, and lovely music. That and the beauty of the name itself: Savannah.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the book, not the film.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"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: 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."--Jacket.

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