Recent Read: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

I finished my first book of 2015!

My most recent read is John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I remember seeing this book everywhere as a kid (I was under the age of 10 when it came out) and being fascinated by the cover.

From Goodreads page

From Goodreads page

The story beneath that cover is just as fascinating.

The book follows Berendt as he moves to Savannah and the characters he meets while living there. The characters become intertwined with the central story when one of them, Jim Williams, murders another.

Four criminal trials and numerous odd happenings later, the case is resolved.

While I enjoyed the writing and the way in which settings and people were described, I felt like some of the subplots in the book took away from the main story. Those characters are needed, to a small extent, to set up some of the information that is provided about the subplot. However, I got confused from time to time about who was who and what role they played.

For example, in the midst of chapters about the various proceedings in the murder case, there’s an entire chapter about a debutante ball. There’s no real bearing on the murder case and it feels a bit like it was just stuck in there at random.

I think Berendt’s book could have been made a little bit better by organizing the book more around the murder case. The way it reads, it feels like Berendt was writing a book about Savannah and the people he’d come across, but then the murder happened and his book changed and he never really changed his format.

I’d be curious to read something else by Berendt as his writing did fascinate me and the murder trial in the book captivated me.


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