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Publisher's Summary

Genteel society ladies who compare notes on their husbands' suicides. A hilariously foul-mouthed black drag queen. A voodoo priestess who works her roots in the graveyard at midnight. A prominent antiques dealer who hangs a Nazi flag from his window to disrupt the shooting of a movie. And a redneck gigolo whose conquests describe him as a "walking streak of sex". These are some of the real residents of Savannah, Georgia, a city whose eccentric mores are unerringly observed, and whose dirty linen is gleefully aired, in this utterly irresistible audio. At once a true-crime murder story and a hugely entertaining and deliciously perverse travelogue, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is as bracing and intoxicating as half-a-dozen mint juleps.
©1994 by John Berendt (P)1995 by Random House Audio Publishing, Inc., All Rights Reserved Under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions, Reproduced by Arrangement with Random House Audio Publishing, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Uproarious...a rich, irresistible mix of snobbery, mayhem, sex, mind-boggling parochialism, and mildewed magnolias....A glorious vanity fair of human folly." (The Boston Globe)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

A little slow, but entertaining

The author did an excellent job of interweaving the storylines of the characters in the book. It is also a beautiful verbal picture of Savannah. I found parts of the story to be a little slow-paced, but not boring... it had the effect of being calming. It matched the slow-paced life in Savannah very well.

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kelly
  • FORT WORTH, TX, United States
  • 07-07-10

Awesome!! Can't believe this is non-fiction!!!

This is one of those books that hangs onto you even after the story is over. Berendt does an excellent job at capturing all the characters in this one! In fact after listening to about half of it I had to double check to make sure this was still non-fiction. Awesome narration! Woodman nails the Georgian accent and really individualizes the characters. I want to visit Savanah now!!

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Heidi
  • Napa, CA, United States
  • 07-11-10


I read this book when it came out in the 90's and loved it. Recently while planning a vacation to Savannah, I decided to listen to it again. I forgot how good it is, the characters, the humor, the stories, and side plots. What a wonderful combination to round out a nice thriller and mystery. Even if you read it 15 years ago, I recommend revisiting it. I consume at least 4 books a month, and rarely do I laugh out loud while listening to a book.

This is based on a true story, although the author was not there when Williams killed Hansford, but he does explain the circumstances of writing himself as the only fictional character (until he catches up with himself after the murder) in the interview that takes place after the book.

If you like humor and intrigue nicely wrapped up in a GREAT story, this is a wonderful book.

I highly recommend it!!!

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mon
  • San Francisco, Ca
  • 08-14-12

Loved, Loved, Loved this Audio

What made the experience of listening to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil the most enjoyable?

The real life characters are interesting, dysfunctional, charming and totally seductive. I can''t believe that this is non fiction. I was also so impressed by Jeff Woodman's performance. He is amazing and truly took this audio to a new level.

What does Jeff Woodman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I loved when Jeff Woodman played Chablis, the fun loving fierce drag queen. He brought her to life and I loved her character. She is fun, sassy, and foul mouthed.

Any additional comments?

This is worth the credit and more. I loved this book. I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a long time! I told my husband that I want to visit Savannah Georgia. If it is anything like this book - then I want to visit. I imagine a city that is architecturally stunning filled with plazas, big old trees, and interesting people (who like to drink :>). This book captured my imagination. Thank you John Berendt for writing a really great book!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Summer
  • Marietta, GA, United States
  • 05-20-09

You HAVE to hear this book....

I've seen the movie many times, and just got around to the usual, the book is SO much better, but the movie is still great.....Being a native Southern daughter, I'm usually unimpressed with other people's attempts to capture what life is really like in the South....this New Yorker did a great job....the performance is great on the audio as well.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

A friend recently asked me if I'd read this book. Of course I had! That is, when it was first published in 1995; when I added to my Bucket List a tour of Savannah with prerequisite martini in the Bonaventure Cemetery, alongside my intentions for tea on the highest sand dune in the North African Desert (from The Sheltering Sky). I remembered very well the spirit and spunk of the book, the debauchery, the snobbery, the scandal, the history, and according to Lady Chablis... 'Two tears in a bucket, motherf**k it'; I remember picturing that Mercer house during one of its high parties, tables spread with low-country deliciousness and magnolias, competing for room on the antique tables with the silver platters and chafing dishes owned by Jim Williams, but I'd forgotten the intimacy of the story -- the whispered in your ear type of telling that leaves you feeling like you were getting first hand the latest and most scandalous gossip. That was half the fun, the trivia and minutiae that gave each character such color that they almost jumped out of the book and told their own story.

I listened again this week, 22 yrs. after my first reading of the book and it felt completely new and fun, like catching up with old favorite acquaintances and all the new scuttlebutt. I didn't know that this is the story of an actual murder trial [see: James Arthur Williams and/or Brenda Dale Knox), known professionally as The Lady Chablis] because i never realized in 1995 that the book is categorized as *non-fiction,* though I surely should have. You just can't make up stuff this good! Not just a blast from the past, but a blast!

I decided that every community has it's characters and their legends -- those potboilers eschewed by the social pages and instead whispered directly ear to ear, we just don't have Berendt to write them out with such jazz and spice. This was an especially fun listen. The honeyed Southern accent(s) of the narrator make even Lady Chablis' raunchy stand-up routine sound like something Johnny Mercer himself might have penned a love song to. Woodman does an excellent of job of transporting you to the land of Spanish moss-covered oak trees, cobblestone courtyards, and the voodoo graveyard gardens of midnight.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Better than I thought it would be

To be honest, I bought this audiobook because it was wildly popular (aka. made into a pop Hollywood movie) and it was set in the Deep South. To my delight, this book kept me engaged for every chapter. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read, regardless of your state of origin, Southern or not!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Book

Wonderful story line. Just recently saw the movie for the first time and it made it even better. The cast of chacters was great all having an important role as oppose to one dominating over everyone else. Would highly recommend this for listening.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Beyond the movie, great book, perfect narrator

This book was perfectly read by Jeff Woodman, whose voice was reminiscent of the narrator/main character in the movie version (John Cusack). The movie started about 2/3 of the way into the story, was great to finally hear the whole TRUE story. Listened to this all the way on a driving trip to Michigan and the miles flew by, enjoyed every bit.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • fred
  • greensboro nc
  • 09-27-08

As smooth as Savannah

I enjoyed my visit to Savannah this summer and managed to revisit the city again through "The Book." Hearing the author's interview at the end was a happy surprise. I read "The Book" years ago and forgot about the engaging characters. You don't have to visit Savannah to enjoy "The Book" but it definitely helps bring the story even more to life.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful