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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Author: John Berendt
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, suspensefu...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780679429227
ISBN-10: 0679429220
Publication Date: 1/13/1994
Pages: 400
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 622 ratings
Publisher: Random House
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on + 105 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Very different - a nonfiction work that reads like a novel, a travel guide, and a first-person account (The author is a character in the book and references his writing of the book within the story)

The book revolves around Savannah, Georgia and a murder trial that went on in the 1980s. The author spends a lot of time on the unique social dynamics of Savannah and the eccentric personalities that made up the city.

Good for it's unique approach and character portrayals. Fascinating if you are from or interested in Savannah. An average story (made more interesting by the fact that its true).

3 stars out of 5
reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
While this stunning work of non-fiction is undoubtedly well-written and interesting, after reading it, you almost feel physically and morally dirty after having consorted with the cast of characters in this book. It's a study in the underbelly of humanity, how Southerners appear polite, virtuous, and cleansed, but can say the nastiest things behind your back, hide the dirtiest secrets, and struggle with the dichotomy between how they want to appear to society and who they really are.
reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on + 94 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This was supposedly a true story of a murder that happened in Savannah in the 80s. A rich, homosexual, antique dealer is accused of killing young Danny Handsford, an employee of his. First of all, I had a real hard time believing this book is actually non-fiction. Secondly, if it was Fiction, it would be terrible. I DID like the information about Savannah and how it related to the rest of the south and the rest of the country for that matter. That was very interesting. I Thought the book tended to be slow in some parts. I thought there were parts of this book that had nothing at all to do with the actual story. Like the Alpha Ball. It was an interesting part of the book but I am sitting here wondering why the author felt the need to put it in. I am glad I read this, but I am also glad I am done.
reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Don't let the awful movie ruin this one for you - this is one of the best books I have read, and the movie was one of the worst movies I've seen. I am STILL holding a grudge against Spacey, Eastwood, and everyone else who had anything to do with that heinous movie. Enjoy the book!!
reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on
Helpful Score: 1
An enchanting novel that is part mystery and part travel book.
If you missed reading it, now is the opportunity to enjoy a book that was on the NY Times bestseller list for over three years!
Read All 113 Book Reviews of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"

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reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on + 93 more book reviews
Awesome story. Knowing that it is based on fact makes it even better. I lived in Savannah for a few years, and it is exactly the way Berendt said it was!
robinmy avatar reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on + 2028 more book reviews
I'm not sure how to describe this book. I needed to read a true crime story for a reading challenge. This book tells about how the author moved to Savannah, enjoying the city while getting to know some of its colorful people. He comes to know Jim Williams, a rich antique dealer. One night Williams shoots and kills Danny Hansford, a volatile young man who worked for him. Jim claimed self-defense, but the evidence tells something different.

This did not read like a non-fiction book. The author introduces us to various unique individuals who lived in Savannah in the 1980's. There is a man who walks an invisible dog, a con artist who lives in empty mansions while the owner is away, a Voodoo Priestess, and a drag queen. Each person had their own little story told in an amusing fashion. The crime portion of the story doesn't happen until nearly the middle of the book; then the trial, appeal, and re-trials are woven throughout the rest of the story.

I visited Savannah last year and heard some of the stories in this book while touring the historic district and Bonaventure Cemetery. It's a beautiful city and the author does a great job of making you visualize the city with its stunning architecture and parks. I thought the true crime portion of the story was weak, maybe because it was spread out through the second half of the book. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Jeff Woodman whose narration was outstanding. Each character had a different unique voice. Overall, I'd give the book 3.5 Stars on a scale of 1-5; but the narration gets a 10.
reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on
An excellent book with interesting characters, a solid mystery, and a look behind the curtain that separates Savannah from the rest of the US. Written like a novel and one of the best mystery non-fiction books I've read in quite a while.
candilou1970 avatar reviewed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on
Very good read!!!! Watched the movie after reading. Very interesting. He's buried very close to my parents.

Book Wiki

Original Publication Date (YYYY-MM-DD)
Jim Williams (Primary Character)
Danny Handsford (Primary Character)
Chablis (Major Character)
Jim Odom (Major Character)
Minerva (Major Character)