I’ll admit I first picked up this book because of the title. I hadn’t heard of the author, or the film for that matter which the cover informed me was ‘now a major motion picture’. The title however, is awesome. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - how could I resist! I’ve actually read this book about 15 times over the years, but it's one I keep coming back to time and again. John Berendt paints vivid picture of life in America’s south, where some of the less politically correct traditions are still too ingrained to simply polish away. His depiction of stately ‘old-world charm’ clashes delightfully with the characters. I love the way Berendt draws you in until you almost feel as though you’re standing just behind the narrator, eavesdropping on the town’s little secrets.
The story follows a New York author who has come to Savannah to write, but is soon captivated by the town’s many eccentric characters and their stories. As he settles into the town he is drawn in by the people, and their compulsive need to share their stories with him. Based loosely on actual events, the story really picks up speed when a young hustler is killed, and the murder is pinned on one of the town’s leading socialites. The story is captivating, and somewhat refreshingly leaves you to draw your own conclusions as to what took place on that fateful night. I won’t say more because, well you know, spoilers, but this is a great book to accompany a sneaky summer gin & tonic. You may also find yourself with an overwhelming desire to visit Savannah and see the picturesque buildings and gardens for yourself, but I know you would be hoping all the while to unearth the grimy, dark secrets that wait just beneath it's respectable veneer. I would be too.