this book has a lot of fans that makes some sense magazines are certainly very popular, and this is magazine writing at its most polished Berendt knows how to create an atmosphere he knows how to describe things in a style that is careful, subtle, and enfused with a deadpan but rather mischievious irony he can certainly describe the way a rich man s house looks so well that you could then describe it to someone else as if you ve been there characters are sketched with an expert s hand using a combination of physical details and the telltale mannerism or two objective but rather sympathetic the mystery at the heart of this novel is an absorbing one and the book s central figure the maybe a murderer felt like he was an iteration of the film JFK s Clay Shaw, as played in an unusually fancy style by Tommy Lee Jones which i liked, at first.so why only 2 stars well, it is polished magazine writing it does not transcend, it does not delve deep there is the slow but increasingly annoying realization that Berendt sees our anti hero as a kind of social peer, which for some reason really bothered me who knows, maybe i just automatically hate the rich parasitic Berendt writes about a whole gallery of characters, all characterized briefly but adroitly, and eventually i realized i was reading a classier version of a tourist eye s view of Southern grotesques, a drive by tour of weirdos how aggravating who knows, maybe i just automatically empathize with the weirdos and am annoyed by the normals and then there is the sad fact of THE LACK OF BLACK PEOPLE WHO COME ACROSS AS REAL PEOPLE yes, they are there several but for the most part they are part of the gallery of grotesquerie this novel takes place in a part of the country that has a huge black community and i found the lack of this demographic even ones who, i suppose, Berendt would consider non grotesque to be perplexing and troubling. BkC7 Delicious, shimmering prose Wonderful story Savannah really should give Mr Berendt a pension.Well now, I have to dim my searchlight to a streetlight Still think it s good but now, well, now I can t see past the one hit wonderness to the glories I once took for granted.Rating 3.75 of fiveThe Publisher Says 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 is a sublime and seductive reading experience Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.My Review Bored Manhattanite journalist realizes, back in the 1980s, that lunch at a trendy restaurant costs than air fare to a sexy Southern retreat those were the days and the resulting experience was lasting So John Berendt becomes a commuter to Savannah, Georgia, which is the American Bath for sheer physical prettiness, though quite a lot hotter.Being a good journalist, he meets everyone worth meeting, and being a gay man, meets the entire A list of gay life in this small city in record time Then he stumbles into an amazing story of murder and skulduggery among the social elite as the elite intersects with gay and gay for pay culture.Along the way he talks to every single interesting person in Savannah and builds a word picture of its typically Southern hierarchical social scene As The Lady Chablis, an African American drag queen would say, Flawless Not exactly flawless, but wonderful Southern characters abound, including the old root woman who introduces Yankee John to the world of the haints and spirits and loa that Southerners, even the Babdiss ones, are aware exists, even when they scream and rail about it as evil, wrong, badwell, they do that about sex too, and with as much effect.Cemetery dirt is a powerful ingredient in the sympathetic magic the old root women practice Where it comes from, that is whose grave it was, matters, as do many other factors, and Yankee John reports with wide eyed fascination on the entire experience of getting involved in the magical universe to help an accused murderer.The end of the story is, very sadly, the end of a single book career The City of Falling Angels notwithstanding, this is Mr B s one book Fortunately, it s a very good one Unfortunately, it s the only one And so I ding a half star off for literary incomplete pass But it s a helluva read This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Note, February 2014 I was just rereading this review, and FUNNY STORY, I moved to a small town Not so much a big city person as I had originally thoughtOriginal review, circa 2007 I love this book to the point where I don t even really know what to say about it, because nothing I can say about it will be good enough to explain just how incredible this book really is.After reading this book, I had to restrain myself from booking a flight to Savannah It makes you want to be there, it makes you want to know the people, it makes you want to pick up and find a place just like it so you can move there I am a city person through and through, but this book made me want to move to a small town The characters are so remarkable, so interesting that you can t believe they are real people This books makes you proud to be a human being as much as it makes you laugh at our ridiculousness.A NOTE ABOUT THE MOVIE don t see it before you read the book but if you have seen the movie and haven t read the book, please read the book because it s so much better while the movie essentially leaves no doubt about the actual account of the murder that it focuses around, the book does not and the book is also not nearly as centered around Jim Williams as the movie is. One of the best true crime book I have ever read Every inch of the story is fascinating It reads like a novel I actually had to keep reminding myself that it was, in fact, a true crime book From the very first chapter I felt drawn in I immediately wanted to go to Savannah and see it for myself So often in true crime books the characters are a little flat Berendt was really able to make them come to life His writing made the whole city come to life His ability to infiltrate the seemly exclusive Savannah society and do such an awesome character study was amazing The personalities in the book are so bizarre and fantastic It is almost hard to believe that they all live in a small city together It had almost the same Southern society vibe to it as Time to Kill The focus was not so much on the crime but rather the mesh of characters are interwoven into the plot if I can call it that In to my re read pile it goes Just found out that it s a movie with Kevin Spacey Wonder if it s on Netflix A Sublime And Seductive Reading Experience Brilliantly Conceived And Masterfully Written, This Enormously Engaging Portrait Of A Most Beguiling Southern City Has Become A Modern ClassicShots Rang Out In Savannah S Grandest Mansion In The Misty, Early Morning Hours Of May , 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 CaseIt 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 I purchased this book while in Savannah for the first time I had been promised that the text would capture the spirit of this reclusive and beautiful city And it did, I have no complaints there Mr Brendt weaves this character driven travelogue into the true story of a sensational murder trial that dominated Savannah for nearly a decade That is a nice device as it allows the author to character hop so to speak, while being able to bring the text back to a central incident, the murder trial.This book is an excellent read if you are interested in the city of Savannah, or are fascinated by the small eccentricities that make every town unique Mr Brendt captures both nicely Although his writing is not spectacular, it is rather mundane and average, his fondness for Savannah and its denizens comes across the page and envelops the reader You find yourself liking these people despite their oddities, and in some cases, criminal behavior.My only gripe is that the book has substantial portions that are made up, and chronologically smashed together This by the author s own admission I wish he had not done that, as it detracts from the legitimacy of the story, and gives readers the out of thinking that some of the outrageous aspects of the text were made up Whether they were or not, I do not know.The text starts out slow, but builds nicely, and I was never bored When Mr Brendt introduces the characters of Joe Odum, and later on, Chablis the text gets a humorous lift Read the book, and then visit Savannah, you ll see what I mean. There was a lot of hype around this book a few years back, but in this case I think it is actually deserved For one, Berendt is a skilled writer who understands how to tease a compelling story out of the material he s working with And, oh, what material The true crime mystery at the center of the book whether the social climbing, closeted gay antiques dealer shot his lover in cold blood or self defense is interesting enough, but Berendt decorates that story with outrageous character portraits of Savannah s very oddball residents Whether he s discussing the quirky, old South rituals of the Married Women s Card Club or the disturbed local genius who may or may not be plotting to poison the town s water supply, Berendt kept me so engaged I relished every moment Be wary of the movie version of Midnight, though Good actors, bad adaptation If you like the book, however, you may want to watch it just to see the notorious drag queen play herself Sometimes, truth really is better than fiction. This was a decent book There was a lot of mood, of which I m a big fan The characters all had the potential to be very interesting, but unfortuately, they weren t developed That s not to say you don t spend a lot of time with them, or find out anything about them, it s just that you don t really give a damn The book is written by a magazine journalist who ends up living on and off in Savanah, GA for eight years to investigate and chronicle a murder and it s trials This book is or less one long magazine article, detailng the events, and lives, but never really giving you sympathy for any of the characters It does a fine job of keeping the mystery of whether Jim Williams really did the deed a secret, but in comparison to In Cold Blood by Truman Capote which I m reading currently this is not worth the effort. Ova knjiga je jedan od meni najdra ih prevoda, i ao mi je to film nije pomogao knjizi Naime, knjiga obiluje ivopisnim likovima, a Klint Istvud je u svom filmu samo na eo te likove, a nijednog nije u potpunosti prikazao Ono to je posebno interesantno u vezi s ovom knjigom jeste to da je ona potpuno promenila ivot u male Savane u D ord iji Gradi koji ne voli promene, koji ne voli savremene tekovine, odjednom se na ao pod najezdom turista koji su se tu sjatili posle itanja ove knjige Bila je veliki hit krajem pro log veka The writing was great, the story was led into in an interesting way, but the trial was trivial and so were many characters that were introduced in the first half of the book But, I liked reading about them anyway and, while the book came together well in the end, the whole thing wasn t cohesive That said, I feel like I should have good things to say about a book I enjoyed reading so much.