Being a huge fan of John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, to the point where I dragged my then-husband along on the walking tour of Savannah based on the book during our honeymoon, the promise of Marilyn Bardsley's
After Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
was too tempting to resist. Billed as a background and "true facts" version of Berendt's book, Bardsley's takes a journalistic approach to the events surrounding the four(!) murder trials of Jim Williams.
While the interviews with Williams' friends and associates were interesting, overall, the book felt like an overlong term paper. On at least one occasion, Bardsley breaks the fourth wall, noting that something will be discussed "in the next chapter" and self-inserting more than once, distracting from the story itself.
The title alone may be responsible for some of the lackluster feelings I had reading it; linking the book so closely with a book known for its remarkable characters, you go in expecting the same larger-than-life drama that Berendt's book had. Instead, you find yourself reading a very dry recitation of facts. Berendt may have oversold Jim Williams, but for someone who led such a colorful life, Bardsley undersells him to the point that the book would probably hold few readers' interest without the tie-in to Berendt's version of events.