Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Hardcover)
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A modern classic of true crime, set in a most beguiling Southern city—now in a 30th anniversary edition with a new afterword by the author
“Elegant and wicked . . . 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. In this sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative, John 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 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 drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young people 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.
Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a sublime and seductive reading experience.
About the Author
John Berendt was born in New York in 1939 and graduated from Harvard University in 1961. While at Harvard, he was on the editorial board of the Harvard Lampoon. From 1961 to 1969, he was an associate editor at Esquire and later wrote for David Frost and Dick Cavett. Berendt served as editor of New York magazine from 1977 to 1979 and wrote a monthly column for Esquire from 1982 to 1994. Berendt is the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and The City of Falling Angels, a #1 New York Times bestseller.
“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