Monday, January 4, 2016

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

This was a rare book that I chose to read just for fun, not for school or book club or any other reason. Reading just because I wanted to read. What a fun idea! This one had been highly recommended to me, so I picked it up. I finished it in one week, which is a record for me recently. Of course it was a week of vacation, with two long train rides, but still, I finished it quickly.

Broken into two sections, this non-fiction book tells the story of the people of Savannah, Georgia and a murder that happened there in the 1980's. In the first section you meet many of the characters in the book through interviews they each held with the author when he first visited there from his home in New York City. But after he was there for a short time, one of the men he met there murdered a man and claimed it was self defense. The rest of the book tells the story of his trials and the effects his trouble had on others in the city (how can we have a Christmas party if Jim is in prison???).

I saw the movie adaptation of this book years ago and didn't like it, so I was hesitant to read the book. But after hearing that the movie was nothing like the book I decided to give it a try. I was drawn in immediately. The characters really come alive for you. They are all so incredible you often forget you are reading non-fiction (although the author does admit to a few artistic liberties). Then when the murder happens the story unfolds in a really compelling way. I couldn't get enough of it and couldn't wait to find out what would happen to Jim. It is a great mystery and told incredibly well.

So I highly recommend this book for a fascinating people study, but be prepared. You will probably want to take a trip to Savannah when you are done to see these people for yourself!


  1. This book is sitting on my book shelf, and I've always wondered if it was a good read. I think I will try it next. Thanks for the great review.

    1. I wish I had known that before I bought my digital copy! I think you'll love it. Then we can go to Savannah together.

  2. Hi Sue,
    I read this book in 2002 in preparation for travelling to Georgia. I looked at it in a different manner than you- I was interested more in the geographic aspect of Savannah. I loved that city and was so fortunate to find a bus tour based on the book- visiting all the locations mentioned (including the cemetery pictured on the cover). I hope you get to travel to Savannah!
    Happy New Year

  3. Haven't read it, but love Savannah. I support the idea of you and Ruth taking a trip there. :)