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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (88,102 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Berendt Narrator: Jeff Woodman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2005 ISBN: 9780739334546
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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: A Savannah Story is a sublime and seductive listening experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city is a modern classic.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Elegant and wicked…. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil 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
  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mab | 2/19/2014

    " I enjoyed this book. The first half more than the second half. I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second. In the first half of the book you are getting to know the characters, which i must say is very interesting and hilarious at times. There is such a broad range of character types that I think without this, I wouldn't have given 4 stars. The second half of the book I felt kinda dragged on and on. I found myself struggling to finish it when I have flown much faster early on. But in general I'd recommend this book to everyone. It has something for everyone and anything based on a true story is worth reading, most of the time. =) I am looking forward to now finally watching the movie. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stacie Peck | 1/24/2014

    " I can't believe I have not read this book until now. It turned out to be one of my favorites! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maggie | 1/21/2014

    " This book was a bit slow at times, but it was overall a really funny, witty and entertaining read. I've recommended it to several people - some loved it, some hated it, but everyone I recommended it to laughed out loud at least once while reading it. Berendt introduces us to some truly colorful and unforgettable characters, and I got a real kick out of getting to know them through his writing. Apparently this book quadrupled the tourism industry in Savannah, and once you read it, you will understand why. The way he describes the characters, landscapes and houses make you feel that you're actually with/in them yourself, and make you want to see them for yourself. Highly recommended! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Demi Abromaits | 1/16/2014

    " I whipped through this book and enjoyed it thoroughly. Berendt has written a piece which does justice to the charm of Savannah-its history, architecture, present culture, and occupants are all presented with the unique dignity Savannah seems to foster. I was, as I can only imagine Berendt to have been, thoroughly charmed by the colorful characters present throughout. Yet I did feel a little let down in their development--many favorable figures appeared without really impacting the central actions of the Williams case (Chablis, Odom, and the man with the imaginary dog to name a few). By the end of the book I had lost interest in the crime and court proceedings and was far more entranced by the colorful characters. Though I appreciated this work greatly, I personally feel there was a lot left unsaid. Perhaps this literary tour of Savannah was too brief a visit, but Berendt has convinced me to one day see witness its charms first hand. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Crystal | 1/15/2014

    " Classic read for me. If you are from Georgia you will enjoy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Claudia Alvarez | 1/10/2014

    " I thought this was a great story and I based on true stories. Some good laughs and some things that you can't believe happened in real life. I recommend. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Barbara Atlas | 1/8/2014

    " Didn't care enough about Savannah, mansions, antiques, or a murder to listen to 13 disks. Life is too short. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 AKbooks | 1/1/2014

    " It's not exactly what the title and cover suggest. Less intrigue and more portrait of a town and its more colorful characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lost in Stereo Lola4TMRW | 12/19/2013

    " The most disappointing thing I've read in a while. Every thing that we could have inferred was spelled out for us. This book left no room for us to imagine how things happened. Really saddening. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Carol | 12/11/2013

    " Could not get into this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebeccahodge | 12/5/2013

    " Fabulous. I laughed out loud. Very well written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy Conard | 11/15/2013

    " Even met The Lady Chablis at one point in time!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diane Fish | 11/15/2013

    " It's a well written account of one man's research into an actual event. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Moira Calleja | 10/21/2013

    " Loved this book. The characters are eccentric but real. The setting is beautifully captured, a real treat for lovers of the Deep South. Kevin Spacey in the movie is that rare event where the movie IS as good as the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karla Marie | 7/6/2013

    " So good! I don't usually like non-fiction, but this was definitely a crazy story. Now I want to take a trip to Savannah! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane O'shaughnessy | 6/30/2013

    " One of the few times the masses got it right. A good story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim07076 | 6/11/2013

    " The characters make this book, I really would have liked to hang out with Joe Odom, although it probably would have put a dent in my bank account. Now I'm interested in visiting Savannah, I've never been there. Great book to read before traveling to Savannah. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 3/23/2013

    " One of my favorite "true crime" stories, and a fairly good movie, too. And I love Savannah! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Penelope F | 1/22/2013

    " So so. It was a good story but not as entertaining as I had hoped. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shuvonne | 11/17/2012

    " I was always curious about this book, but honestly had no idea as to the subject matter. I was very pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it was, especially considering the fact that it's based on actual events. And like many others, reading it made me want to visit the city where it all occurred. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Dawn Zillich | 4/21/2012

    " Really wanted to read this book, to maybe like this book. But neither happened. Feel asleep reading it and was at risk of the same listening. Since I don't want to die at the wheel, and don't have a problem sleeping, I opted to bail on this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Krista | 2/9/2012

    " Oh my gosh, this book took me forever to get through. But it was well worth the read. Now I want to go to Savannah even more. One thing I really enjoyed is that while the book was a non fiction piece (loved the real people and their stories), it read like a suspenseful fiction mystery. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kelley Short | 11/26/2011

    " This was a boring read. The book talked mainly about a murder that happened in the Mercer House. It focused on the trials and mistrials of Jim Williams. I really wanted to like this book but, sadly, I would not recommend it to anybody. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 J.E. Raley | 11/9/2011

    " I was really hoping for more with this and I feel like it came up short. Maybe it's because I'm Southern and could already relate/understand the Savannah way of life or maybe it's because there was no real climax or surprises but I was disappointed. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 13mlane | 10/5/2011

    " I thought the book was a very slow action book that switched from place to place and from past to future. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adriana | 7/14/2011

    " Loved getting to know GA's showcase tourist town through the cast of quirky characters and scandals. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carrie | 5/30/2011

    " Read when we were living in Newnan, GA. We went to Savannah, GA for the 4th of July weekend, and I had just finished reading the book. It was neat to see some of the landmarks mentioned in the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kendra /Books Complete Me/Forbidden Reviews | 5/30/2011

    " I read this book a long time ago. I loved it. It is non fiction, but really reads like a novel, and the story itself is fascinating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebecca | 5/27/2011

    " He writes about his experiences in New Orleans, and I admit it, when I went there the first time I kept looking for the world he experienced, but you just can't do that over a weekend "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 curlygirly9 | 5/26/2011

    " The word "Savannah" is said so many times in this book, it is actually irritating. Great book though, but I think of it every time I hear something about Savannah, GA "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 5/22/2011

    " I loved this book, which made me long to go to Savannah. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Casey | 5/20/2011

    " This was exceptionally well-written, and I had to keep telling myself that although some of the characters were fictional (in a sense, since everyone involved were based on actual people), that this was based on actual events, and not a work of fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan | 5/17/2011

    " This book was a fast paced read. Must admit the story became far more interesting when I visited Savannah and followed the story around the city. Then it went from a 3 star to a 4 star rating. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle | 5/17/2011

    " The best true lit book in a while! My hometown rocked in scandal! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Summer | 5/16/2011

    " I like City of Falling Angels better. But this was a very interesting look at Savannah, Georgia. Interesting characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 5/16/2011

    " Very entertaining - the entire time I was reading it, I did not realize that it is non-fiction. The characters are very true to life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danielle | 5/13/2011

    " I read this book several years ago, gave away my copy, and over the years found myself referring to it so many times I had to go buy another copy. Great book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle | 5/13/2011

    " I really liked this non-fiction/fiction book. A true story that reads like a novel. Really makes me want to go to Savannah. "

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About the Author
Author John BerendtThe son of two writers, John Berendt grew up in Syracuse, New York. He earned a B.A. in English from Harvard University, where he worked on the staff of The Harvard Lampoon. After graduating in 1961, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in publishing. Berendt has written for David Frost and Dick Cavett, was editor of New York magazine from 1977 to 1979, and wrote a monthly column for Esquire from 1982 to 1994.
About the Narrator

Jeff Woodman originated the title role in Tennessee Williams’ The Notebook of Trigorin and won the S.F. Critics’ Circle Award for his performance in An Ideal Husband. In addition to numerous theater credits on and off Broadway, his television work includes Sex and the City, Law & Order, and Cosby. A six time Audie Award finalist (and a 2007 winner), he has received seventeen Earphones Awards and was named one of the Fifty Greatest Voices of the Century by AudioFile magazine.