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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil [Kindle Edition]

John Berendt
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

Read John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in Large Print.

* All Random House Large Print editions are published in a 16-point typeface

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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Description


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. (The New York Times Book Review)

The best non-fiction novel since IN COLD BLOOD and a lot more entertaining (Edmund White)

Enthralling (Robert Winder, Independent)

Berendt - and the reader - are in travel-writer heaven . . . This is a book which leaves you amused, spooked and introduced to a new piece of America (Mark Lawson, Independent on Sunday)

Perfect storytelling - wildly funny, occasionally alarming and utterly enthralling (Moira Shearer, Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

Four years on The New York Times bestseller list

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just doesn't get any better 7 Nov. 2007
By M.J.
Loved this book. I had no idea what it was about since I hadn't seen the movie and had avoided the hype years ago. Now, reading it for the first time, I'm amazed. I wasn't too excited at first--the first half of the book is just okay; entertaining but nothing that great, but the second half took off and just flew! This book got me reading more southern American literature and I came across a fantastic book called "Bark of the Dogwood" by J.T.McCrae which was actually just as good as "Midnight."

"Midnight" is probably the only book on the bestseller list I've read that deserved to be there. Jim Williams is an amazing character, and a real person, or was. We will never know the real truth of what happened (don't want to give away the plot), but even so, it makes for one heck of an entertaining read. Would also recommend the books "Prince of Tides" by Conroy and "Bark of the Dogwood" for two other southern books that don't pull any punches.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, Lurid, Vivid, and Thoughtful 23 May 2000
By H. Callaghan VINE VOICE
Apparently, this book has been so influential that it has significantly increased the tourist traffic through Savannah. After reading it, it is easy to understand why - even I found myself itching with the urge to visit the place at some point, if for no other reason than to see if half the stories told about it were true.
Part travelogue, part true-crime thriller - with copious supernatural elements also thrown into the mix - the book defies simple description, and the author uses precise, non-sensational, almost diffident language to describe a superabundance of eccentric, larger-than-life characters and bizarre and mannered social rituals.
The story has, as its loose focus, the relationship between local millionaire Jim Williams and his handyman/lover, Danny - a relationship that ends in Williams shooting the younger man dead. Was it murder, or self-defence? Berendt does not pretend to offer any answers, instead settling for telling the few facts that he can actually attest to (and, added to which, of course, is a good dollop of the entertaining hearsay of the Savannah-ites he meets), and leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions.
Trial and retrial follow on, and behind the courtroom scenes one senses a world of political manoeuvring, old enemies, and the genteel but ultra-conservative morality of the Old South.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ability to write naturally 17 Feb. 2010
Wonderful. The storyline could have been so dull, but it is John Berendt's writing ability that has captured the whole feeling of the people and the area. To be able to write naturally, as one thinks, is such a rare skill. Most people write with restriction - a mental block which inhibits the natural flow of clear thought. I must now get any of his other writings.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entrancing, intriguing, evocative and very good 24 Feb. 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wonderful, just wonderful. The best book I have read all year. Berendt weaves an evocative and insightful picture of Savannah into a gentle yet disturbing murder mystery with a twist. Each and every character - and there are lots of the them - is equisitely drawn and immediately engaging. Each espisode is enchanting and well worked into the slowly developing plot. The prose is by turns sparse and luxuriously, perfectly suiting the book itself. Read it or regret it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mesmerizing book 27 Mar. 2007
By Sonia
Meet one the most charming of all southern belles. Not a woman or a girl, but the city of Savannah, located on the Georgia coast, rich with history, ancient architecture, and with its own distinct way of life. In this non-fictional account of life in Savannah, Berendt introduces characters that are at once eccentric, charming, tragic, and entertaining, giving this book an exceptional fictional feel. He aptly describes life in the higher social circles, including prejudices, feuds, jealousies, as well as "how the other half lives", featuring not only the rich and privileged, but also voodoo priestesses, drag queen show girls and male hustlers.

The book centers around the death of Danny Hansford, a troubled and violent young man, at the hands of his employer, Jim Williams, who is a very successful and affluent antiques dealer. The Williams - Hansford affair takes up a large portion of the book.

Berendt's choice of characters makes this story rich, compelling and very entertaining, and the variety of events has kept me reading at a considerable pace, with always a laugh or two around the corner. The Williams trial is highly interesting and adds a bit of suspense to the book.

After reading this book I not only recommend that you read it, but it also has made me put Savannah on my list of places to visit at some point in my life.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Savannah 25 Aug. 2004
Anybody who did not grow up in the American south will be amused and charmed by the characters portrayed in this book. Anyone who grew up in the south will really understand the characters because they will almost assuredly know someone in their hometown that fits the same description. I was able to put different names on several of the people portrayed in this book and thus picture them with perfect clarity. No matter where one might live in the south, if you haven't been gobbled up by the so-called new south, you will feel like you have known these people for years.
The story is as intriguing as the characters in it and the reader will find themselves drawn more and more into the story. I finished the last one hundred and seventy-five pages in one sitting. I was so caught up in what was going on that I couldn't put the book down and ended up going to be around 2:30 in the morning. Berendt develops the characters so well that one really begins to care about what happens to them and what they do next. This is one amazing book.
When the movie came out I really didn't think I would like it and didn't see it until a few months ago. After seeing the movie I just had to read the book and I am glad I did. There are some differences in the movie and the book and while the movie is good, the book is better. In fact, I have seldom read a book that I liked as much as this one. John Berendt had a lot of good material to start with to be sure, but his wonderful style of writing makes the story entrancing. It is clear that Berendt considers many of these people his friends and that they feel the same way about him. That he cares deeply about both the people and the story comes through very clearly and is part of the reason the reader will also begin to care.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read.
A brilliant, absorbing book, precisely and concisely written.
Published 16 days ago by Mireille
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired by Savannah visit
I had only vaguely heard of this book and not heard of Savannah at all, as I am British, before my American wife suggested a trip there. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ryan Lovejoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. Loved the characters. Full of emotion, downright snobbery and intrigue. Hate that I've now finished it!
Published 2 months ago by aileen m mcfadden
5.0 out of 5 stars Definite recommendation - non-fiction that surpasses many fiction...
This was an excellent read. I read huge volumes of fiction and there are few non-fiction books that can establish the same engagement in narrative, this is one of those rare... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lily Lit
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm sure it's a great book but I got a bad version
I got a second hand copy, yellowed, musty and different cover ........ not what I thought I bought.
Published 4 months ago by Mr. Jonathan Dixon
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
excellent some of the novel was cut here and there but overall a great film
Published 5 months ago by MRS SHEILA NEILL
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I totally love the story. Movie is also good.
Published 5 months ago by wei you
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my favourite books - and soo much better than the film!
Published 6 months ago by C. Brooks
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Book
Fascinating Book especially as I am going to visit Savannah for a family wedding next year
Published 7 months ago by L. Ruby
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
great wee book. very interesting characters I was fished in from page one. would definitely recommend if you like a character driven book
Published 7 months ago by JanisScallon
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