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Extended Audio Sample Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Audiobook, by John Berendt Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (88,294 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Berendt Narrator: Anthony Heald Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2005 ISBN: 9780739334539
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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.

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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

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stuart | 2/19/2014

    " This isn't a novel, per se. It reads more like a book-length New Yorker article. New characters are introduced up to the very end. Not a page turner in every sense. An alternate, less misleading title could be "Profiles of Interesting People in Savannah." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jill | 2/10/2014

    " I started listening to this book on CD with my mom because of an upcoming trip to Savannah (the setting for the book), and got sucked in immediately - something that rarely happens to me when listening to an audio version. About a quarter way through I started reading the book so that I could get through it faster! The most amazing thing about Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is that it's a true story; the long list of wildly eccentric characters is enjoyable enough, but to know that they're actually real beings makes the story that much better. Berendt effectively mixes a fascinating historical account of Savannah with the goings-on - and most notably, the murder case of Jim Williams and Danny Hansford - of the city's high society. The book is at times uproariously funny and always a page-turner. I'm looking all the more forward to visiting Savannah now that I've got such a colorful picture of it painted in my head. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marta | 1/28/2014

    " Absolutely riveting story about the magnificent Savannah! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle | 1/26/2014

    " One of my all time favorites. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debbie | 1/23/2014

    " I loved this book. I read it right after my trip to Savannah while everything was fresh in my mind. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessah | 1/22/2014

    " My mom recommended I read this book before our upcoming trip to Savannah. I didn't know anything about the book going in, except that they'd made it into a movie. What I loved about this book was the description of the people and culture of Savannah, and how the city itself was just as big a character as all the eccentric people described. The story was great, but got a little slow - repetitive, even, for obvious reasons (to those who know the story). I'm very glad I read this before my trip - better, I think, than a touristy guide book of the city! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bookreaderljh | 1/17/2014

    " Made sure to read this book now as I'm off to visit Savannah in a couple of weeks and this story definitely was as much about the character of the city itself as it was about the characters who inhabit it. I actually preferred Part One which concentrated on the different people the author comes across rather than Part Two which delves into the murder mystery/drama. I really loved these characters and how they were described - detached, journalistic - but it let the actual people shine through. I felt like a fly on the wall and really loved watching these people being "real". The murder/courtroom drama was a sidelight and the main thing it showed was how dysfunctional our court system could be at times - and not wild about the voodoo sidebar throughout that story. Favorite momemt - when the author describes the black debutante ball and the crossdresser who crashes it. Can't wait to see the city and now I have some background of its recent past. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeni Hill | 1/17/2014

    " This book has so many aspects to it -murder, cross-dressing, occult -just to name a few. It's funny, it's sad and yes, it is also non-fiction as it is the tale of a murder in the south! Just an excellent piece of writing, for sure! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rachel Hicks | 1/6/2014

    " Hard to get through! Just watch the movie with Kevin spacey lol "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marit | 12/22/2013

    " Love the story. Love Savannah. Loved the movie, too, for that matter! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dannielle | 12/20/2013

    " One of my all time favorites. The southern characters are fabulous and Savannah is a character all herself. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert | 12/10/2013

    " Simply...One of my favorite books I've ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 12/6/2013

    " Good story.wish that I had read it before I visited Savannah!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mollyevansel | 8/23/2013

    " The characters were great, but I needed a little more plot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marina Aimer | 6/13/2013

    " I have listened to Midnight in the Garden, on tape years ago, and more recently on my iPad, twice! It is just that good. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Colleen Mc | 6/1/2013

    " This was like reading a history textbook. Very drab. Took forever for the story to get moving. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lindsay Hagans | 5/22/2013

    " SUCH a good book. Almost more like a series of interconnected vignettes, but still a cohesive novel. It really makes you want to visit Savannah, GA. Well-written and incredibly entertaining. Great, unforgettable characters. Highly, highly recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike Metcalf | 3/16/2013

    " If you ever plan to visit Savannah or any of the coastal colonial cities for vacation, this is the book to start your preparation. It is such a perfect story and constructed so well by e author that it is hard to believe it is not fiction "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cathy | 12/31/2012

    " second time I read this. very good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren | 11/4/2012

    " Hugely entertaining. Just the right pace, quirkiness, atmosphere, length for that type of book. REALLY REALLY made me want to plan a long weekend in Savannah! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William Tatsch | 10/17/2012

    " The book is way too long for the plot. Several characters are included just because they are "oddities," but they have not relation to the plot of the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cecelia Tencza | 10/8/2012

    " If you understand the idiosyncrasies of life in the South the humor will please you. Thrown in also is the mystery of a brutal murder. Loved the book but still unsure which topic it was more about. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 midnightblooms | 9/10/2012

    " Southern gothic, funny, creepy, odd characters. A good read. I don't own it, but I wouldn't mind reading it again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Justine | 5/29/2012

    " Great book. Interesting characters & it's non fiction. John Berendt pulled me into the story from the first page. It's our book club selection. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Moira Calleja | 3/29/2012

    " 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charlotte Lyn | 2/11/2012

    " It was good. Did not like one chapter due to the character it was about. Fun to read while living near savannah "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jodi | 11/16/2011

    " There were many colorful characters in this book....I was surprised to learn that it is non-fiction. "

  • 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. "

  • 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. "

  • 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. "

  • 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alyssa | 5/11/2011

    " Excellent, read like fiction.. A real life murder mystery.- "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Virginia | 5/9/2011

    " Very good and interesting non-fiction. Makes me want to visit Savannah. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kimberly | 5/5/2011

    " I absolutely loved this book. OMG I read it back in the 90s. And the cover of this book has always kept me spellbound for some reason. I read this book in 2 days. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sbennett | 5/5/2011

    " Loved this book. It is one I may read again. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laura | 5/4/2011

    " Horrible. It felt like it was written for fourth graders. It was so bad, about halfway through I ditched it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michelle | 5/3/2011

    " I don't hate this book, but it just didn't hold my interest. Thus I have decided to pass it up for a better book. "

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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

Anthony Heald, an Audie Award–winning narrator, has earned Tony nominations and an Obie Award for his theater work; appeared in television’s Law & Order, The X-Files, Miami Vice, and Boston Public; and starred as Dr. Frederick Chilton in the 1991 Oscar-winning film The Silence of the Lambs. He lives in Ashland, Oregon, with his family.