A Book A Day: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Image source: Goodreads

This is my first audiobook. Once upon a time I had a 50-minute commute and to preserve my sanity and keep a nasty road rage habit in check I started listening to this book about a man who was put on trial for murder four times in Savannah, Georgia.

Ostensibly a true-crime book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, in Berendt’s hands, reads like a larger-than-life novel. Indeed, after the book’s publication and subsequent film adaptation (spoiler: the movie pales in comparison to the book), tourists flocked to Savannah to experience all the places Berendt mentions. The statue on the cover of the book was moved from a local cemetery to a museum because of concerns about damage. 

My husband and I went to Savannah for our 10-year-wedding anniversary a few years ago; we’d been newlyweds when I first listened to the book and miracle of miracles, Mr. Offal, Resister of All Things Literary, read it in time for our trip. You can visit the house where the murder occurred and tour the historic district, where most of the action takes place. We even toured the cemetery where the statue originally was and let me tell you, the South really does it right when it comes to cemeteries, in my opinion. (The actual Garden of Good and Evil is in South Carolina.)

One odd thing: Savannah, a walkable city, is made up of squares, and the names of the squares do not match up with streets or statutes in the squares. My husband and I were all, “How did city planners not lose their jobs over this?”

Also, if you’re ever there, try and visit the birthplace of Flannery O’Connor if you can. It was a spur-of-the-moment stop for us (it’s a private residence with limited visiting hours) and the tour guide was so fantastic (enthusiastic, knowledgeable, fun) it became one of my favorite places. 

A Book A Day: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

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