Clint Eastwood directed this adaptation of John Berendt's non-fiction best-seller about a Savannah, Georgia, murder case. When this film was released, Berendt's book had been on best-seller lists for four years. As the film begins, New York journalist John Kelso (John Cusack), alter ego of author Berendt, arrives in Savannah to do a brief Town and Country article on the annual Christmas party given by sophisticated, urbane antique dealer Jim Williams (Kevin Spacey), who restored many mansions in Savannah, including the famed Mercer House where he lives. After the party, Williams kills his rude, violent lover Billy Hanson (Jude Law), explaining it as a necessary act of self-defense. Kelso decides to stay in Savannah to cover the trial, encountering a variety of colorful locals, eccentric and otherwise, including black transvestite nightclub performer Lady Chablis (appearing as herself), financially challenged bon vivant Joe Odom (Paul Hipp), vocalist Mandy Nichols (Alison Eastwood), voodoo priestess Minerva (Irma P. Hall), and Williams's deceptively powerful defense attorney Sonny Seiler (Australian actor Jack Thompson with a very convincing Southern accent). Kelso develops a romantic interest in Mandy while tracking the events that led up to the killing.