Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
Nonfiction books, even those covering a specific event in a specific setting, tend to be a little dull in their dry factualness. Nonfiction true crime has a tendency toward moralizing. Berendt’s story of a young man killed by his lover/employer in an isolated Georgia town avoids both. He carries the reader along with charming descriptions of the people of Savannah, who seem just like crazy characters in a Southern Gothic lit novel. But these are real people, and supposedly the stories he tells about them are real, as well, and I would get a sudden jolt when he’d slip a chilling fact in amongst the tale of some cheerful eccentricity, such as the town’s complacent acceptance of a jury letting a group of men go free because the victim they stomped to death was “just” a homosexual, or of Savannah’s extraordinarily high murder rate because the victims are mostly black, so it’s “a black problem”.
His storytelling is calculated to entertain, and he treats the town and its people with affection, but he does not refrain from telling the whole story and leaving the judgement up to the reader.
I read this book for the Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season challenge. This book was for Task the Third: The Holiday Party (Read a book where a celebration is a big part of the action), because the action in the book revolves around a series of parties and ceremonies, from the annual Christmas party given by the killer, to the never-ending house party given by the lawyer/conman, to the society ladies’ exclusive tea parties, to the midnight graveyard ceremonies conducted by the voodoo woman.