Eternal 'Midnight' for Berendt

02/08/1999 AT 12:00 AM EST

Writer John Berendt didn't need another key to the city -- he already has two. So, instead, Savannah threw a party to help the author (and PEOPLE Daily subscriber!) celebrate the publication of the paperback edition of his bestseller, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." "Thank you . . . not for putting Savannah on the map, but for telling the people of the world about the beauty of Savannah," Mayor Floyd Adams Jr. told Berendt at this week's celebration. The book is based on the murder trials of Jim Williams, a wealthy Savannah antiques dealer accused of killing his young male lover in 1981. Williams, who was eventually acquitted, died in 1990. "Midnight" spent 216 weeks on The New York Times hardcover bestseller list and was turned into a (disappointing) 1997 movie directed by Clint Eastwood.

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