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ISBN: 9780099521013
Shots rang out in the grandest mansion in Savannah, Georgia in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defence? 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 non-fiction. Berendt skilfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of America’s Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a compelling murder case. It is a spell-binding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman’s Card Club; Chablis, the gorgeous black drag queen; the hapless recluse with a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman and child in Savannah; the young redneck gigolo; the ageing and profane Southern belle; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; Jim Williams, the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; 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. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil has become a modern classic. Since its publication in 1994, it has broken the record for the longest time spent on the New York Times hardback bestseller list, has been translated into twenty-four languages and made into a major film directed by Clint Eastwood.