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A Kiss Before Dying

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  7,263 Ratings  ·  692 Reviews
A Kiss Before Dying not only debuted the talent of best-selling novelist Ira Levin to rave reviews, it also set a new standard in the art of mystery and suspense. Now a modern classic, as gripping in its tautly plotted action as it is penetrating in its exploration of a criminal mind, it tells the shocking tale of a young man who will stop at nothing--not even murder--to g ...more
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Published June 1st 2011 by AudioGO (first published 1953)
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Delee
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

 photo fd2563e8-70fe-4a76-9c8d-51f70f4f751c_zps1a1636ac.gif

meets-

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

 photo 3748e74f-0886-4fb1-8f8b-1a2c9a321b2a_zps4be20bf8.png

...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
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
”’You’re crazy,’ he told himself aloud one day, looking at the list. ‘You’re a crazy nut,’ he said affectionately. He didn’t really think that; he thought he was daring, audacious, brilliant, intrepid and bold.”

 photo A20Kiss20Before20Dying_zpslcxemmkx.jpg
1956 movie version of the book. I remember it being really good.

I can’t even tell you his name because he didn’t tell me until I was a of the way through the novel. I thought I knew who he was, but I was wrong. You will be wrong, too, and I want you to be wrong because I want you to be
...more
Carol
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,

...more
Mara
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
...more
Ivonne Rovira
Feb 20, 2014 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
...more
David
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Nandakishore Varma
Sep 23, 2011 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!
Ashley
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-favourites
Impressed... I am utterly impressed...! How on earth? How on earth did Levin manage to produce this? Oh my gosh! I might write an essay on this book for university in the upcoming academic year... Yes! I might! I really might! Perhaps I might even consider writing a dissertation on this!
Agnieszka

Everything begins like a fairy tale with one exception. 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 fate she eithe
...more
Joanne Sheppard
Apr 08, 2012 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
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
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,
...more
El
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
...more
Anthony Chavez
Oct 17, 2012 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
Rose
Dec 27, 2016 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
Elizabeth
Apr 26, 2012 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
Carla Remy
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing suspense and unpredictably. Levin wrote this when he was 23 (in 1953), then was a very successful playwrite (among other hits, he wrote the popular Deathtrap). He didn't write another novel until Rosemary's Baby in 1967.
Nick Pageant
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gen-fic
This was just deliciously trashy. I loved every page and can't believe how well it has aged. It's one of those rare finds - a literary novel with a pulp sensibility. Great fun.
Mmars
Mar 15, 2014 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
...more
Tony
Mar 27, 2015 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
...more
Cheryl
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suspenseful novel about a charming gold-digging psychopath. Well written, with some plot twists and a great ending. Worth reading.
Jill Hutchinson
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel for author Ira Levin in 1954 and he was on his way to being one of the most popular authors of the middle/late 20th century. It was quite a beginning as he weaves the tale of a truly horrible, greedy, and remorseless young man who has his eye on getting ahead by any method. What better than finding a girlfriend whose father is filthy rich? She throws a monkey wrench in the works by getting pregnant.....since this was written in the 1950s, that s ...more
Jack
Jul 29, 2012 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
...more
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.
Dena
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.
Koen Kop
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The only truly good murder mystery I've ever read (of all the hundreds). Outclasses Agatha Christie.
Albert
Mar 29, 2015 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
...more
Ronna
Aug 06, 2013 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
...more
Michele
Jul 10, 2015 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
...more
Smitha
A tale of betrayal and retribution, set in he mid 20th century. This is the story of a handsome young sociopath who wants to become Insta rich by opting out the easiest way of marrying riches. For this, he befriends Dorothy, the youngest daughter of a copper tycoon. But riches are nor easily come across.
Enjoyed this tale with predictable.twists.
Am amazed to know that this is the first book written by Its Levin, When he was barely 22 as it doesn't seem to be he work of a young novice.
Highly recom
...more
Marty Fried
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first book by Ira Levin - I don't know how I've missed out for so long, but I plan to make up for it.

This one was pretty suspenseful, although it was hard not to try to shake some sense into some of the characters. But that's probably because I've read a lot of mysteries, and I just hate to see them make mistakes I easily recognize. The main problem was that the women believed everything they were told by a stranger, mainly because they wanted to believe it.

The main character in this
...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
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“Better to live in doubt than to die in certainty.” 5 likes
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