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Midnight in the garden of good and evil : a…
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Midnight in the garden of good and evil : a Savannah story (original 1994; edition 1994)

by John Berendt

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,762257363 (3.86)431
"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)
Member:Stratfordpublic
Title:Midnight in the garden of good and evil : a Savannah story
Authors:John Berendt
Info:New York : Random House, c1994.
Collections:Your library
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Work Information

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (1994)

  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 431 mentions

English (254)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (257)
Showing 1-5 of 254 (next | show all)
Beguiled by Savannah.
A reread in a lovely new edition from the Folio Society, it is one of those “travel books” that create or capture a place and a time, somewhere you wish you could visit, but know that it no longer exists, if it ever would have done for you, as you need a guide like John Berendt to show you around.
In the first half of the book Berendt introduces us to 1980’s Savannah with characters from varied levels of society, graciously with Jim Williams, an antique dealer who owns the beautiful Mercer House, entertainingly with Mrs Fawcett, a genteel preservationist trying to save historic Savannah: “One thing we did do,” she said. “We got the bachelors interested”, and then The Lady Chablis, a transgender woman who is a larger than life personality.
The story then transitions to a murder trial, with Jim Williams accused of shooting his “gigolo”, Danny Hansford. Again, there are larger than life characters with added voodoo.
This is lurid storytelling, but Berendt writes easy flowing prose which makes it a joy to read if you go with the flow. I really enjoyed this book for a second time, when I had feared I wouldn’t. So, just go for the ride.

Note. This doesn’t detract from the book in my opinion, as I read it as a work of entertainment, but although it is based upon facts, Berendt has manipulated them to create a fantastic story. Accept that it is entertainment, not non-fiction. ( )
  CarltonC | Sep 3, 2021 |
Very dated and the narrator places himself strangely.
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
There was so much exposition in the beginning in order for us to get to know the characters, that it was nearly halfway before the conflict began to be discussed. I understand why the author chose to do it this way, however, waiting that long made the book drag on a little too long. I enjoyed hearing about the crazy characters in Savannah, but I wish we could have learned about them a little more naturally within the context of the plot versus in the almost vignette style of the first half of the book. ( )
  courty4189 | Mar 24, 2021 |
The true story of the murder that shocked Savannah society and inspired Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster film. This book dives deeper into the infamous slaying of Danny Hansford and the multiple murder trials of his lover, Jim Williams, filling in knowledge gaps with photos, exclusive new interviews, and crucial testimony that recreates the courtroom battle over the future of a self-made aristocrat.

I'm just not a fan of true crime. ( )
  Gmomaj | Mar 24, 2021 |
Not quite as good as all the reviews lead me to believe but still an entertaining read. There are some wonderful characters that appear to be works of pure ficton, they are so outrageous. John Berendt seems to have a knack for drawing out many intimate secrets from his 'subjects'. And Savannah also seems to become a character in itself so vivid are the descriptions. My issue with the book is that it takes so long for the 'crime' to be committed and I was becoming a bit bored with all the character sketches. ( )
  Patsmith139 | Mar 15, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 254 (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
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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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Canonical LCC

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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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