Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

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Book Rating (147)

Narrator Rating (27)

Written By: John Berendt

Narrated By: Anthony Heald

Date: November 2005

Duration: 3 hours 10 minutes


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 reading experience.  Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city is certain to become a modern classic.


  • Richard S

    Having just recently returned from our first trip to Savannah, this selection seemed the obvious choice for a first audiobooks pick. My introduction to the story was from the movie. While its was great fun to revisit the places we've now seen first hand, it was astounding to learn how much of the books' continuity failed to transition to the film. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a wonderful 'read' and a beautiful introduction to a truly enchanting place.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Devyn Phillip

    Book was excellent! I did not enjoy the loud screeching sound. However I believe these loud tones were inserted at the end of every disc intentionally to notify the listener that they need to insert the next disc and they just weren't edited out when it got converted to digital. Does not ruin the experience as I just learned to skip forward to get past it faster.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • carol sienkiewicz

    Very good book. Narrator talks too fast though. There are times every so often when squealing occurs. Will try another book before making a final decision.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Jonathan Hurst

    I found the book to be fascinating and well written. Congrats to the author and the Savannah.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Susan Williams

    Very good book and the narrator was excellent. Only strange thing was some 1 minute gaps of silence followed by that sound when there's an emergency on your radio, weird!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Rachel Salazar

    A must read for any southerner or transplant Yankee

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Daniel Wainwright

    A pleasant story. Very interesting characters. The narrator did a nice job. I was somewhat let down by the ending. The book left me wanting more. But, overall, I really enjoyed the description of Savannah and the people their.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Daparoye

    I really enjoyed this book. I was kept wondering throughout the story, "What else can possibly happen?" The author knows Savannah. The reader did an amazing job and I look forward to hearing more of him.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

    Good story, easy to listen to. Entertaining. Nice accent and voice changes.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Matthew Williams

    The book itself was fine, but the particular audio download I received had multiple gaps of silence and high pitched static squealing.

  • Cynthia C.

    The BIG PROBLEM I had was with the quality of the recording. Unlike the other 50+ audio books I’ve listened to...about every fourth chapter a loud shrieking alarm would screech through my earbuds. I’d rip the buds out as quickly as possible but it was darn painful. My ears are still ringing and sore. I’ve listened to other books since then and no problems. JUST this recording. Too bad...because the book was great!

  • India H.

    I love this book, but I love the audiobook even more. The narration was very entertaining.

  • Amanda S

    Has always been a favorite book of mine, however this audio book recording has some serious flaws. There are odd gaps of silence in the middle of paragraphs, sometimes followed by very LOUD and long beep tone. Completely obnoxious.

  • Trax

    This abridged version of the book seemed to leave out so many important aspects of the story. It really did not make any sense.

  • Angela Lewis

    Riveting... I have listened over and over again...

  • Anonymous

    This book is one of my all time favorite true stories. I find is so compelling I could read it over and over and never get tired of it. It leaves such a mysterious air over the characters and Savannah, GA.

  • DF

    This is a fine work of nonfiction. The exotic atmosphere of Savannah, the huge personality of the accused murderer, the underworld of gay culture, antiques dealing, and voodoo make it feel more like a fictional world than a real one. I felt cheated that this version is an abridgment, though not a bad one.

  • Texas History Fan

    My wife and I recently visited Savannah. We enjoyed the city so much and heard all about this book. Naturally I had to listen to it soon thereafter and what an amazing surprise. This book is fun, weird, and gives the listener a true feel for Savannah and the area. If you've never visited the city, you will after listening to this book. Loved it!!

  • Damon Ellis

    I thought this story was rather dull and uneventful. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen, but it never did. It is a court room drama, w/very little drama, but lots of tangents and random pointless characters that aren't central to the plot.

  • Anonymous

    Good story and well narrated but I feel like I missed something in the abridged version.

  • Anonymous

    Great narrator, great story, but I've decided I just don't like abridged books. I'm sure there was a lot more POW to this story than what came through. I went and bought the hardcover book to read so I could fill in the blanks. It's an intriguing mystery -- abridged version didn't do the story justice in my opinion.

  • Colleen

    I recommend this book to learn a little bit about Savannah culture. As was stated by other listeners, I felt like it shouldn't just end. I wanted to hear more.

  • Shane Nixon

    This narrator is the best male narrator I've heard through SAB so far. His dialects, even the female ones are SUPERB! The one for the female "witch doctor" is BEYOND WONDERFUL. I think the story would be better UNABRIDGED, but after a slow start it was compelling. Good characters, good setting, wonderful story line. Didn't know it was true until the end. The author notes at the end I could do without. He sounds like a pompous jerk, but he writes a good story here. Did I mention the narrator was more than worth the price of admission? Well, I'd read this one again JUST to listen to this guy. The story by itself, in this abridgement, would be no better for me than a 2 or three. The narrator is worth (at least) one star BY HIMSELF.

  • dlct

    This book is great fun, interesting, full of great characters and with a facsinating story to share. I loved it and only wished it was longer. I had no idea, until the very end when the author is interviewed, that this was based on a true story and very little had been altered in the telling. That makes it all the more amazing to me. If you have any writing aspirations at all, the interview with Berendt is valuable because he details some of his troubles in getting the book published -- his first agent thought the book was too geographically specific. I found Berendt to be fascinating and his interview would be worth the rentall even if the story wasn't great -- but it is. A great listen! Makes me want to visit Savannah!!

  • Anonymous

    This is my first time with this book, and I loved it! Great listen - had me wishing I had the unabridged version...

  • Orville Amazor

    Good story and good job by the narrator, but I just can't see how they might think just 3 hours could do justice for this book! Heck, the movie was about that long!! The Lady Chablis is simply an interesting aside in this way-too-shortened version; an injustice to be sure. If you're unfamiliar with the story, this reading might jump around a bit and leave you wondering (and wanting more!). Otherwise, its an okay refresher of a fascinating tale.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

by John Berendt

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt
This title is due for release on November 22, 2005.

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