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A Kiss Before Dying

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  5,667 Ratings  ·  546 Reviews
A modern classic, this novel set anew standard in the art of mystery and suspense in its exploration of the criminal mind
A Kiss Before Dying not only debuted the talent of best-selling novelist Ira Levin to rave reviews and an Edgar Award, it also set a new standard in the art of psychological suspense. It tells the shocking tale of a young man who will stop at nothing—not
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Pegasus Books (first published 1953)
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I have loved Ira Levin ever since I watched a movie in 1982 -Deathtrap- based on his 1978 play. It is a must see for mystery lovers, and A KISS BEFORE DYING- Levin's first novel -written in 1953- is a must read!

The story starts out like many stories do...

Poor boy

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Rich girl

 photo 543e29b3-1245-43b7-8c63-c27587629afd_zps72cbeba1.jpg

Poor boy and rich girl start dating

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Rich girl gets pregnant

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...and this is where things get a little interesting-

Poor boy- is actually a psychopath- only dating rich girl so he could marry her for her money. Now that his pla
Oh. My. Goodness. A KISS BEFORE DYING is Excellent!

I like Levin. I like his easy-to-read style of writing. I like the suspenseful way he plotted the route of the evildoer, and I like that he kept me guessing.

I have to be careful here as I do not want to give anything away, but will say MURDER is the name of the game, and the story is set in the year's between 1949-1951 when tips were a quarter and young women were naive and gullible.

Forbidden to attend the same college as her older sister Ellen,

If A Kiss Before Dying were to come out tomorrow, I might use words like "predictable" to describe certain aspects of it. However, Ira Levin published this (his first novel) in 1954, which gives it the sort of satisfying, but olden-timey thrill I remember getting from watching the likes of Double Indemnity and Wait Until Dark in my grandparents' home as a kid.

There's something different about witnessing 50s characters unwittingly fall prey to the machinations of a seemingly swell guy. After
Feb 08, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gold-digging sociopaths, rich girls with single sisters
If at first you don't succeed, get rid of the bitch and move on to the next sister.

A Kiss Before Dying is a taut little thriller about a sociopath who conceives an ingenuous plan to seduce the daughter of a wealthy copper baron. Except she goes and gets pregnant before his plan can come to fruition. Since Daddy is the moralistic disinheriting type, he figures a kid before they are properly married and he's had time to work his charms and soften the old man up will just ruin everything. When he c
Nandakishore Varma
May 22, 2016 Nandakishore Varma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
This book is an underrated gem, buried under the more famous The Boys from Brazil and Rosemary's Baby. But of the three, I found this to be the most suspenseful. The mystery is very well hidden; yet it's not a whodunit. The big revelation comes in the middle of the book: from then onwards, pure suspense carries it through.

Challenge for Indian readers: identify the Bollywood blockbuster based on this novel.

Read it!
Ivonne Rovira
Mar 18, 2014 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adrenaline junkies
Recommended to Ivonne by: Delee
Thank you, thank you, thank you to my friend Delee, who recommended this humdinger of a novel. Ira Levin, best known for his terrifying Rosemary's Baby, wrote A Kiss Before Dying as his first novel. The novel won the 1954 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and readers will marvel that this suspense-filled thrill ride of a book could possibly have been written by a first-time novelist, one just 24 years old.

Levin packs surprise after surprise into this novel, a book that will leave you exhausted w

Everything begins like a fairy tale , except for that , here prince charming is ambitious though as poor as a church mouse and princess is a daughter of a millionaire. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances she has to be killed . I don’t reveal anything at this moment – you can read it on the blurb.

Despite this , career and money , are still at fortune hunter's hands , because as luck would have it , on the horizon appears the sister of the murdered girl . But , by a strange twist of fat
Joanne Sheppard
Apr 09, 2012 Joanne Sheppard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title 'A Kiss Before Dying' conjures up, for me, an image of a 1950s pulp thriller with a fabulous, stylish cover featuring a woman who looks like the hourglassy one from Mad Men and a man in a fedora concealing a gun. And indeed, that's pretty much exactly what A Kiss Before Dying is, on the face of it - it's a crime novel published in 1953 about a handsome psychopath who preys upon a series of rich young women in a bid to secure a stake in their father's fortune.

And yet, while A Kiss Befor
A very entertaining and intense crime novel! Ira Levin is the perfect writer of suspense! If you enjoy crime stories, you should read this one. You'll enjoy it a lot. Ira was very clever with plotting this novel.
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 21, 2015 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
I'm going to mention that when you read this you will undoubtedly (well unless you've just started reading books or watching movies and TV...or I suppose have been in a long coma) have come across the idea, the plot, even the characters before. It would not be fair to hold that against the book however because the book was written in 1953 and probably originated many of what are now stereotypical ingredients to some thrillers.

If you can "let the book" or if you really aren't familiar with books,
Anthony Chavez
Nov 02, 2012 Anthony Chavez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-classics
I felt as though Ira Levin really got into the characters' heads, especially reformed party-girl Ellen and spinster-in-training Marion, although it could be that their relative depth was a relief after lovestruck wannabe-wed Dorothy. The novel was peppered with newspaper items relating to the various crimes of the story. They were all pretty tongue-in-cheek and served as nice palate-cleansers between the point of view changes. The thing that sets this book apart from other, similarly plotted sus ...more
This is the story of what happens when a girl gets pregnant and the boy will do whatever he can to make sure she's not a burden on him.

Boys will do anything for the nookie. And money.

I recently watched the 1956 movie based on this book, the one with Robert Wagner and Joanne Woodward, the one I had never connected to this book. I watched it anyway but picked up the book from the library afterwards, thinking there might be some differences. There really weren't any. What you see in the movie is al
Apr 01, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed and loved this book so much - I haven't had such a smooth and fab reading experience in a long time. Fun, funny, dreadful, upsetting, really???, No way! what????, twists and turns, boo boos here and there, but so worth every second of my time. I don't know what genre this really fits into - it fit me in so many ways - that I don't care what genre it is typically put in. What I know is that I was so sad when I read the last page. I could easily have read another 500 pages. Some might cr ...more
Mar 27, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
106. A KISS BEFORE DYING. (1953). Ira Levin. ****.
Ira Levin (1929-2007) was a popular and prolific writer. This was his first novel, and won an Edgar Award for Best First Novel. He had a couple of blockbusters after this, notably “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “The Boys From Brazil.” In this novel he invents a male gold digger who climbs his way up the ladder of a family fortune by killing off the eligible women in the family by turns. His protagonist is “…a handsome young man, very appealing, very char
Mar 15, 2014 Mmars rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't read a lot of mysteries. I shy away from murder mysteries. I run from mysteries with multiple murders. But I was in the mood for something really compelling. So a GR friend's review of this book popped up at just the right moment and since I had enjoyed Levin's Stepford Wives, I decided to give it a whirl.

Perhaps I liked this because it takes place in the early 50s. There's no surveillence cameras, email, or mug shots on the web. Communication is by telephone and long distance travel is
Aug 06, 2012 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
As usual, I don't like to go in to many details about plot, especially in a book like this, where part of the appeal is the suspense, and not knowing what is going to happen next. The book is classified by a lot of people as mystery/thriller, but that is a mistake, in my opinion. We know who did it. There is no mystery for the reader. Yes, there are thrills to be had. The time period is noir-ish, and there is a murder. That is where the similarities with Hammet and Chandler stop.

This, like a lot
Ben Loory
somewhere between Jim Thompson and An American Tragedy... minus the fun and terror of the first and the weight and scope of the second. i don't really get what ira levin's all about. like Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives, this book is ingeniously designed and executed but never feels like a damn thing.
Mar 31, 2015 Albert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin is a prime example of how mysteries were written. Before CSI and the overload of forensic science became the norm for a good crime/mystery. This tale is as much about the drama of the characters as it is about the crimes themselves.

"...His plans had been running so beautifully, so goddamned beautifully, and now she was going to smash them all. Hate erupted and flooded through him, gripping his face with jaw aching pressure. That was all right though; the lights w
Aug 15, 2013 Ronna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A KISS BEFORE DYING is an Edgar Award Winning classic mystery that, arguably, was the beginning of the modern psychological mystery thriller. This is a classic tale of murder for money, but it's the brazenness of the criminal that becomes the shocker.

Young handsome college student meets beautiful young coed. They plan to marry, but for all the wrong reasons. Our handsome hero is anything but the hero. We get to experience all of his thinking as he plans out his wonderful life that just need lot
Jul 12, 2015 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen King gives a shout-out to this book in his homage to horror, Danse Macabre, as follows:

[Levin's] first book, which is unfortunately not much read these days...[is] A Kiss Before Dying...a gritty suspense story told with great elan -- rarity enough, but what is even more rare is that...[it] contains surprises that really surprise...and it is relatively impervious to that awful, dreadful goblin of a reader, he or she WHO TURNS TO THE LAST THREE PAGES TO SEE HOW IT CAME OUT.

King then dilate
I listened to the downloadable audiobook version from the library, so this isn't really a book read-read. Still, I finished listening to it. I've always loved the 1991 movie based on the book, but the novel is even better.
Feb 09, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2012
A young college man is dating Dorothy, the daughter of a wealthy copper tycoon, hoping to marry her and eventually inherit her father's money. His plan hits a roadblock when Dorothy tells him that she's pregnant and they must marry right away. Not only that but her father will disown her for getting pregnant out of wedlock - that means no money for the young man. The only way the man can get out of this predicament is to kill Dorothy. If only that was the end of his problems...

A Kiss Before Dyin
Aug 16, 2016 Anton rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen King calls Ira Levin “the Swiss watchmaker of suspense novels”, and with good reason. In all four Levin novels I’ve read, he has done an incredible job ratcheting up the tension as the story builds. But “A Kiss Before Dying” is the first Levin novel where I didn’t know the twist going in, which made it even more gripping.

Written and set in the 1950s, “A Kiss Before Dying” is about a handsome and charming war vet who has a plan to ensure his financial future — a plan that hits a snag when
Nov 07, 2012 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great little thriller, somewhat spoiled by an introduction that gives away much of the book.

Why do publishers do this? Infuriating!!! If you want to have some other writer waxing lyrical about how great the novel is while giving away plot twists, then do it as an afterword, not an introduction.

Plus, I'll now look up who wrote the intro and make sure NEVER to read any of her books.

Anyhow. A great, chilling and tense thriller about a determined, callous young man, his quest for wealth, and his
Christine Woods
Apr 26, 2015 Christine Woods rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
So many times in reading or viewing a murder/mystery I hear myself thinking, "How could you be so careless".
Not so in this case. He is a natural born killer with one virtue, patience.
This is a book with a predictable plot but very chilling to actually be in on his very precise and well thought out murder scheme. Four stars for being well written with a few twists and mouth opening chills.
Jul 15, 2008 Jeannie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's amazing to me that you don't know the primary character's name even one third of the way through the book, and it's a shock when you come to realize that you never knew it. It's tough to explain. You do need to suspend disbelief for certain parts, but this is a finely crafted book, especially considering it's Levine's first book.
Lucy Somerhalder
May 07, 2016 Lucy Somerhalder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oof, that's just a great thriller. Nothing super fancy, just a fantastically bad bad guy and a cool plot.
Apr 02, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book.
Dec 28, 2016 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It always amazes me how many people have never heard of Ira Levin. "Ira who? Never heard of him". "You saw the movie The Stepford Wives or Rosemary's Baby? Well, Levin wrote those". Yup, everyone saw those movies but still they don't recognize Levin's name. It's a shame really because he was a brilliant writer with an amazing gift at storytelling. In fact, A Kiss Before Dying was his first and it won an award. It was written over six decades ago but it's an easy to read. Not nearly as dated as y ...more
Aug 11, 2014 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-again
A Kiss Before Dying is a 1953 novel written by Ira Levin. It won the 1954 Edgar Award, for Best First Novel. I'll say first of all that I have never been as disappointed in a book as I was in this one before I even started reading it. It was however, my own fault. I have no idea why I own this book, it doesn't look like the type of book I would buy, but there it was next on the shelf so I started reading. Now for some reason I thought this was a mystery, and I love mysteries, that's where my dis ...more
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Levin graduated from the Horace Mann School and New York University, where he majored in philosophy and English.

After college, he wrote training films and scripts for television.

Levin's first produced play was No Time for Sergeants (adapted from Mac Hyman's novel), a comedy about a hillbilly drafted into the United States Air Force that launched the career of Andy Griffith. The play was turned int
More about Ira Levin...

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