Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is atmospherically Deep South and Southern Gothic in tone, depicting a wide range of eccentric personalities (unique, yet characteristic of the region) in and around the city of Savannah, Georgia.
The story's catalyst is the killing of Danny Hansford, a local male prostitute (characterized as "a good time not yet had by all") by respected antiques dealer Jim Williams. This results in four murder trials, with the fourth ending in acquittal after the judge finally agreed to move the case away from the Savannah jury pool. The book characterizes the killing as "self-defense", the result of a lovers' quarrel between Hansford and Williams, and not murder, pre-meditated or otherwise by Williams. The death occurred in Williams' home, which was originally built by an ancestor of songwriter and Savannah native Johnny Mercer, West Point graduate and US Army and CSA Colonel Hugh Mercer (whose grandfather was Hugh Mercer of Pennsylvania, hero of the Battle of Trenton and adjutant to General George Washington of the Continental Army).
The book highlights many other notable Savannah residents, as well, including The Lady Chablis, a transsexual woman and local drag queen and entertainer. Chablis provides both a Greek chorus of sorts as well as a light-hearted contrast to the more serious action.