Open its covers and unleash a tale laced with voodoo, murder, snobbery and a hint of seduction. On the surface, Savannah seems to be a quiet, small town where everyone knows everyone, and their business, too.
But something went dreadfully wrong.
Now the small southeastern town is nationally known for its peculiarities and deception – all thanks to John Berendt’s national bestseller “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” With help from the friends he had made along the way, Berendt was able to capture and depict the people, places and the mysterious Mercer house murder.
Although the book seems to produce seemingly fictitious characters, scenarios and schemes, the novel is non-fiction. Its characters include Chablis, a drag queen who looks like a lady but has a mouth like a sailor; a voodoo priestess who helps Berendt talk to the dead; an inventor who isn’t taken seriously when he claims to have a vile so strong he could kill everyone in town; and a redneck gigolo who is believed to be the love interest of the antique dealer, Mr. Mercer. Berendt didn’t forget the stories he heard: Chablis at the debutante ball, trips to the graveyard and the dazzling parties at the Mercer mansion.
He stuck around long enough to find out everything in Savannah wasn’t what it seemed, and put out a story that truly does have something for everyone.
“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” depicts a real crime scene. How many books can do that? Not many. At least not many can be based on true events, people and places and still be mildly entertaining. “Midnight” goes beyond mildly entertaining, however; it is hard to put down. It was written in 1994 and remained on the bestseller’s list for four years. As Americans, we are more than willing to spend our time and money on some form of entertainment; and as far as this book goes, it is worth it. Berendt’s descriptions and imagery transported me to Savannah and its world of steamy mystery. Even though it was written over a decade ago, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” will entertain you with its immaculate attention to detail and capability to paint pictures in your head – if you let it. Just open it up and I promise when you’re through, you’ll be planning your very own trip to Savannah.