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  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

  • Written by: John Berendt
  • Narrated by: Jeff Woodman
  • Length: 15 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (70 ratings)

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Written by: John Berendt
Narrated by: Jeff Woodman
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Publisher's Summary

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • An enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city: “Elegant and wicked.... [This] might be the first true-crime book that makes the reader want to book a bed and breakfast for an extended weekend at the scene of the crime." —The New York Times Book Review

Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative flows like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.

It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a sublime and seductive listening experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this true-crime book has become a modern classic.

©1994 by John Berendt (P)1995 by Random House Audio Publishing, Inc., All Rights Reserved Under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions, Reproduced by Arrangement with Random House Audio Publishing, Inc.

What the critics say

“John Berendt has written a gorgeous and haunting blend of travel book and murder mystery. It is enchanting and disturbing and deeply atmospheric.” —Michael Herr

“Forceful, clear, gripping, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is the best nonfiction novel since In Cold Blood and a lot more entertaining, since Berendt’s book has everything going for it—snobbism ruthless power, voodoo, local color, and a totally evil estheticism. I read it till dawn.” —Edmund White

“John Berendt has the ability to make the truth read like an exciting novel. This book is original, funny, and bleak—and it beckons quite alluringly to armchair adventurers who are as curious about human nature as about the nature of certain places. I finished reading it convinced that Savannah, may be the greatest performance artist of our day.” —Ann Beattie

Featured Article: 20 Best True Crime Audiobooks for Your Inner Detective

There is nothing more thrilling than the unfolding tale of a true crime story. Whether an unsolved mystery, a deep dive into a criminal mastermind, or a look at an infamous serial killer, true crime is gripping, captivating, and engrossing. The best true crime audiobooks will have you on the edge of your seat, anxious for more. Add to that an emphatic and powerful narrator, and you simply won't be able to stop listening. Here are the 20 best true crime audiobooks to satisfy your inner detective.

What listeners say about Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great narration

Jeff Woodman does an excellent job of narrating not only the story but giving each character a distinctive voice.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

just ok

The first half introduces odd characters. The second half focuses on trial... not always linking the two. it was entertaining enough but not a favorite.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A classic for a reason

I’ve been aware of this book (and movie) for years but never read it, and now I understand the hype - it is phenomenal. When it finished, I literally said out loud “wow, what a story!” The real-life characters of Savannah captured my heart, and I will definitely visit them again with repeat listens. Such an entertaining book, definitely worth a read!

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

I got this book based on so many positive reviews. Indeed, the performance is sensational! But I had trouble with the book itself. The first half felt more like a parade of Savannah’s peculiar characters with not much story linking them together.
Eventually, it became enjoyable enough, especially when taking into account that it is based on a true story.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Narration

Even better than the book read many years ago. Jeff Woodman’s narration with one great voice after another for every character takes us even more into Savannah and the story itself, which Berendt already does brilliantly. If you loved the book you’ll enjoy even more this audio version.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great book

Love the book didn't love the ending. It's a true story so what are you going to do though?

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Critics Are Right. Engrossing Book.

Other than an interesting murder and trial involving a couple of duplicitous town residents (pretending to be honorable), nothing much happens in this novel. Rather, it introduces readers to some of the seedy and eccentric denizens of Savannah, Georgia. From a 'Literature' standpoint, the book *should be* weak: characters are real-life people (typically boring imo), the setting is on it's surface unspectacular, and there is minimal plot. Fortunately for readers, it turns out quite strong: descriptions are almost palpable, John Berendt's prose relating the story (pacing and language) is mesmerizing, and the individuals uncovered are undeniably atypical (they are, in fact, downright kooky). A somewhat ugly underbelly is exposed to a classicly genteel/charming tourist community laden with affectation and fraudulent socialites. This is an amazing, almost hypnotic book.

Jeff Woodman does a brilliant job bringing the city's 'characters' to life. His pacing and timbre are exemplary and chosen voices are memorable.. his impression of a flamboyant drag queen is incredible, for example. It is easy to go over-the-top with Southern accents, but Woodman holds back a little - portraying them realistically and flawlessly.

This unusual novel is captivating. I found it when browsing for a good 'True Crime' novel - and it has a few of those elements - but it's much more.. I'm legitimately not sure how I would categorize this book. Regardless of where it "fits", it's worthy of 5 stars. Don't hesitate to spend the Credit.

TO THE PRODUCERS: The length of "Dead Air" spaces between chapters is almost painful. I nearly shut off the recording a couple of times - wondering if the download had failed. Please shorten these.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Engaging

Take a story. Someone else's. Then make it your own by inserting yourself.

I felt as though I were getting a ringside seat throughout the entire journey.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

looonng

interesting story but I found it dragged in places. if you get preoccupied listening, don't worry. its easy to get into it minutes later without missing anything. great narrator.

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