Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

He was tall, about fifty, with darkly handsome, almost sinister features: a neatly trimmed mustache, hair turning silver at the temples, and eyes so black they were like the tinted windows of a sleek limousine – he could see out, but you couldn’t see in.

No, this isn’t a romance. This is more my kind of non-fiction. A collection of strange characters with a criminal case on top as the whipped cream on a sticky chocolate cake. When truth is stranger than fiction.

New York journalist Berendt finds Savannah (Georgia), and slowly builds a life there. It’s a sheltered, contained community, floating on What Will The Neighbours Think (And Do). He meets plenty of diverse characters, and life seems to be delightful, weird and exciting, until something happens that can’t be swept underneath the carpet: a lethal shooting in one of the grand houses.

After that the story mixes High Society with the court of law, showing that being a known figure can work against you as much as it can for you. It dims the story a little, but from front to back it continues to feel more like a sultry novel than a true story.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story, John Berendt, Random House 1994

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