Last night we had our book club and we discussed John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Mixed reviews about the book but all were glad to have read it.
This is a reportage of a murder that occured in 1981 in the southern US city of Savannah. While the details of the investigation and the four trials that followed are dealt with in the second half of the book, it was the first half that elicited most interest from my book club. In fact we all agreed that we did really care either way whether Jim Williams, the accused was guilty or not. What fascinated us the most were three things: the characters described in part one and their eccentricities, the social fabric of the city (as mirrored in the characters) and the architecture of the city.
While the murder-mystery is in the foreground it is Berendt's background characters that often eclipse the main plot with their stories of bizarre, criminal, perverse and sad behaviours. A conman who searches out empty mansions in which to live and conduct daily tours and parties, a disillusioned inventor who claims to have a vial of poison to kill the entire city, a voodoo priestess, a drag queen who looks so convincingly feminine she is able to blackmail her white lover's parents into giving her "abortion" money.
I really enjoyed the book and if you like a book which has many layers then I highly recommend it.
Have a happy day.
Images: amazon.com, igougo.com