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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 (85 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.

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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

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3663 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (12 May 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,506 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 49 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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21 of 22 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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7 of 7 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth is stranger than fiction 7 Dec. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I recently re-read this book after a number of years. It was as gripping as I remember. It can't be described as a novel because it isn't fiction, and would be condemned if ridiculous if it was. Instead it's the story of a real-life local murder told through the eyes of a young journalist who happened been living in Savannah (the town in which the event took place) at the time. He arrived for a short visit and ended up staying for eight years. The Savannah he beautifully and painstakingly describes is a self-contained world of old houses, old money, manners, decorum and an unassailable pecking order, were an awful lot can be overlooked just as long as it takes place behind closed doors and doesn't threaten to upset the social order. With each chapter we meet another of the townsfolk. In many ways the chapters are self-contained, introducing the reader to a new character, and sharing with us with their life story. In this way we meet the town's good, great, potential poisoners, drag queens, an habitually bankrupt attorney, voodoo practitioners, sex sirens and a man who walks an imaginary dog. As the author puts it: `In sealed off Savannah, its people flourished like hothouse plants tended by an indulgent gardener.' It's worth reading just for this.
The book is written as though it takes place in real time and therefore it takes a while (just under half the book) for the murder to happen, but when it does, it takes centre stage, for a while at least.
The accused, a self-made, opinionated man, isn't particularly popular in the town, but that doesn't stop his party's from being the must go event of the social calendar (even after he's charged with murder), and an obsequious police officer from dousing the victim's blood from the carpet of the accused so it doesn't stain.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A great book especially after having been to the house
Published 11 days ago by Christopher J Tillson
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good story, especially as we have recently visited Savannah.
Published 1 month ago by lesley m
3.0 out of 5 stars A chore to read.
I bought this following a recommendation and a visit to the area in the book. Found it a chore to read and didn't complete it.
Published 1 month ago by C. Livingston
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
What a good read, I'll be sorry when it ends, the characters are strong, will read it again in a few years.
Published 3 months ago by J. Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
What a strange, mesmerising true story. Full of the most extraordinary characters. Superbly written. Witty, quirky and fascinating.
Published 5 months ago by Grace
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 months ago by Jim Clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good read
Published 5 months ago by Mrs EFM Shivas
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read.
A brilliant, absorbing book, precisely and concisely written.
Published 5 months 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 6 months 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 8 months ago by aileen m mcfadden
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