Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

By John Berendt

  • Release Date: 1999-06-28
  • Genre: True Crime
Score: 4.5
From 872 Ratings


NATIONAL BESTSELLER • “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 enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.


  • Expected Better

    By Alabam
    Not what I was expecting. More a travel advertisement than a mystery/thriller novel.
  • The truth of the story

    By Judie76
    I enjoyed coming to know the characters through the author’s eyes. I,also , enjoyed the book much more than the movie as much was left out of the film’s version! What an interesting closed off city in the Deep South! Judy Hinton
  • Wonderful

    By JillWoGriffin
    This book had me so captivated.
  • Layered

    By winds of change or renewal
    I loved the characters of this book and their depth. The intrigue that is Savannah was also captured beautifully. Bravo.
  • History good. Not suspenseful.

    By meaghjk
    Read as an article in a paper so was not exactly that entertaining to read. History interesting. Not as exciting or suspenseful as I anticipated even though there was murder and voodoo.
  • Captivating and well written

    By julie callie
    Loved the book. Rich language and interesting, unique plot
  • Second time through...

    By Mauri in Paradise Valley
    I loved this book the first time I read it, and have loved it the second time! The way the story has been told keeps you reading through the night! Highly recommend!
  • Meandering, a must miss

    By jaynelson36
    There’s a good true crime/courtroom story here..... but it’s hidden amongst meandering, irrelevant stories. Rather than focus on the only interesting thing to happen during the author’s eight years in Savannah (the murder and trial) the book is a trying exercise in irrelevant character portrayals and social gatherings, none of which have any interest in the true crime story. I think this is what happen when a lifestyle writer takes a shot at courtroom drama. Miss. Skip this altogether, baffled as to the buzz and it’s years on the NYT Bestseller list. Maybe the movie is better....
  • Great Novel

    By Shalolo LoveYou
    It was such an amazing book. I love it and recommend it to anyone who likes mystery
  • Maybe I just don't get it...

    By EmilyGilmour
    This is a nice enough, tongue in cheek account of savannah and her special weird characters that is somewhat entertaining. But I really fail to see the great literary acclaim this book earned - it is in the end a disjointed, jumbled up book consisting of separate stories thrown together and held loosely together by the murder trial.