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A Kiss before Dying by Ira Levin

A Kiss before Dying (1954)

by Ira Levin

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Wow, that was so good. One of the more disturbing books I've read in recent memory, but not because of gore, of which there is almost none. It's not really a whodunit, since the reader knows who the killer is from the beginning, but it's engrossing to watch the characters try to figure it out. A man's girlfriend reveals that she is pregnant, and he decides to take drastic measures to "fix" the situation. The creepiest part is how justified he feels he is in all his actions. The best villains think they are heroes, after all, Recommended if you're looking for a good psychological thriller. ( )
  melydia | Jun 2, 2017 |
Loved this book. Easy to read, a great thriller element, great character development.
I'm in love with Ira Levin's books! Better review to follow!! ( )
1 vote Nataliec7 | Oct 31, 2016 |
I don't know what people expect when they read classic novels... Car chases and stuff blowing up and the main character having graphic sex and swearing every 2nd sentence? This is a classic, and has none of those things. What it does have, though, is suspense, tension, to the point writing, and a horrible key character. Pretty much exactly what you'd look for in a noir crime suspense novel.

It is written in 3 "sections", which makes sense once you realize what the main character is up to. Section 2 is definitely the most suspenseful and I found section 3 went on a bit too long - really, I didn't need a long description of the view of a smelter, followed by a walkthrough description of how a smelter worked, and so on... I guess the reason for all this detail comes clear at the end, but I don't think it was as much of a surprise ending as the author intended (which makes all this build up to an ending you expect a bit.... well... long winded.). ( )
1 vote crazybatcow | Jan 24, 2016 |
Highly ingenious, fast-paced, gripping bit of trashy pulp fiction. I couldn't stop turning pages. ( )
1 vote middlemarchhare | Nov 25, 2015 |
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 were out.
And she, she kept on sobbing weakly in the dark, her cheek pressed against his bare chest, her tears and her breath burning hot. He wanted to push her away..."

Every young man makes a plan and he has made one for his whole future. For his life beyond the small town he grew up in and the traps that had befallen his friends and his father. Trapping him in a dead end job with an unhappy wife and a dead end life. That was not for him. That was why he was gone into the military and then to college. For his future. For his life and she was about to take that all away from him. But he wasn't going to let that happen, he wasn't going to let her take that all away from him.

"...It still wasn't too late. People wrote suicide notes and then stalled around before actually doing it. He looked at his watch; 9:20. The earliest Ellen could get the note would be...three o'clock. Five hours and forty minutes. No step by step planning now. It would have to be quick, positive. No trickery that counted on her doing a certain thing at a certain time. No poison. How else do people kill themselves? In five hours and forty minutes she must be dead..."

A Kiss Before Dying was written back in 1953. The stark differences in a crime novel then and what is now are startling. This is beyond pretend noire. This is the real thing. This is from when Hitchcock reigned supreme and not someone that gets a honorable mention in film class. The subtleties, the pacing, the slow build of tension until when the killer is unveiled and the scope of his plan becomes clear. This is what writing was and should have always been. There is some violence in this tale but actually very little of it. It is not the act of murder itself that holds importance, but the motive and the slow unraveling of the crime that on the surface, seems to be one thing but is in essence, only the strand in a much larger web of blood and deceit.

Levin is an accomplished author whose tales of crime and horror are now classics. The Boys From Brazil. The Stepford Wives. Rosemary's Baby. You've heard of them and you owe it to yourself as a reader to enjoy them. A Kiss Before Dying is another such novel.

A very good read. ( )
2 vote agarcia85257 | Mar 31, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)

Vrij Nederland heeft gelijk

Sinds jaar en dag wordt - Een kus voor je sterft - in de VN thrillergids beloond met vijf sterren. Het boek dateert uit 1953 en is vertaald door Remco Campert. Jaren geleden heb ik dit boek gelezen en ik vond het ook een absolute topper binnen het genre. Levin is van oorsprong toneelschrijver en heeft na dit werk nog een aantal zeer 'eigen' boeken geschreven zoals: Rosemary's Baby en De Jongens uit Brazilië.

Voordat ik het nu, anno 2003, opnieuw ging lezen vroeg ik me af of het boek inmiddels gedateerd zou zijn. Zo ja, op welke punten dan wel? Na herlezing vind ik het niet verouderd. Het verhaal kun je gemakkelijk anno 2003 plaatsen omdat het universeel is. Een man die rijk wil worden en daarvoor tot het uiterste gaat. Een psychopaat die zich zo inleeft in de rol van de ander dat hij geloofwaardig is. Wat de schrijfstijl betreft, Levin houdt de vaart er flink in. De wendingen zetten je soms op het verkeerde been, waardoor de spanning alleen maar stijgt. Het eind is verrassend en bij de laatste regels vraag je je af hoe het verder gaat. Wat is er dan wel anders tegenwoordig? Er wordt veel gerookt in het boek. Daarnaast zijn de liedjes die genoemd worden voor niemand meer herkenbaar en bij sommige kledingstukken (strikje bij een vrouw) kun je je weinig meer voorstellen. Maar verder..... nog steeds spannend, goed geschreven, uitermate onderhoudend. Knap dat iemand dit boek op zijn 22ste heeft geschreven.

Vrij Nederland heeft gelijk: vijf sterren.
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His plans had been running so beautifully, so goddamned beautifully, and now she was going to smash them all.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786711647, Paperback)

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 get where he wants to go. For he has dreams; plans. He also has charm, good looks, sex appeal, intelligence. And he has a problem. Her name is Dorothy; she loves him, and she's pregnant. The solution may demand desperate measures. But, then, he looks like the kind of guy who could get away with murder. Compellingly, step by determined step, the novel follows this young man in his execution of one plan he had neither dreamed nor foreseen. Nor does he foresee how inexorably he will be enmeshed in the consequences of his own extreme deed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The boy most likely to succeed is now the man most wanted for murder. A brilliant young psychopath goes from honor student, class president, and war hero to killer of his pregnant lover. Unable to stop, he gets away with murder after murder--blind to the one fatal weakness that can expose him.… (more)

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