Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • An enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city: “Elegant and wicked.... [This] 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
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 is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this true-crime book has become a modern classic.
Praise for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
“Forceful, clear, gripping, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is the best nonfiction novel since In Cold Blood and a lot more entertaining, since Berendt’s book has everything going for it—snobbism ruthless power, voodoo, local color, and a totally evil estheticism. I read it till dawn.”—Edmund White
“John Berendt has written a gorgeous and haunting blend of travel book and murder mystery. It is enchanting and disturbing and deeply atmospheric.”—Michael Herr
“John Berendt has the ability to make the truth read like an exciting novel. This book is original, funny, and bleak—and it beckons quite alluringly to armchair adventurers who are as curious about human nature as about the nature of certain places. I finished reading it convinced that Savannah, may be the greatest performance artist of our day.”—Ann Beattie
“All the old passions are on parade through New South Savannah in John Berendt’s wickedly funny new book.”—Richard Russo