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A Kiss Before Dying (Pegasus Crime) [Kindle Edition]

Ira Levin , Otto Penzler
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A modern classic, this novel set a new 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 even murder—to get where he wants to go. For he has dreams, plans. He also has charm, good looks, 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.



Editorial Reviews

Review

“Here is not merely an extraordinary first but an extraordinary suspense novel by the highest professional standards; and you have an evening of incomparable excitement ahead of you. Levin combines great talent for pure novel writing with strict whodunit tricks as dazzling as anything ever brought off by Ellery Queen or Agatha Christie.” —Anthony Boucher, The New York Times
 
“The book is a succession of quite legitimate surprises, the suspense is admirably sustained, the detail is thorough and convincing, and the writing is considerably above the level usually associated with fictional crime and passion. A pleasure to recommend.” —The New Yorker

About the Author

Acclaimed novelist and playwright Ira Levin (1929–2007) was a native New Yorker whose books include A Kiss Before Dying, Rosemary’s Baby, This Perfect Day, The Stepford Wives, The Boys from Brazil, Sliver, and Son of Rosemary. Levin was also the recipient of three Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Awards. Please visit Ira Levin on www.iralevin.org.


Product Details

  • File Size: 470 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004XXIHS2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,793 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
64 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Can't-Put-It-Down Book! July 27, 2011
By Ohioan
Format:Paperback
My mother bought a hardback copy of this book when it first came out in the late 1950s, and when I was in high school and looking for things to read, I found her copy in the attic and read it. I could not put it down: it was very suspenseful, very well-plotted, and I had No Idea! When I finished the book I was very impressed. About fifteen years later I decided for some reason or other that I wanted to read "A Kiss Before Dying" again, just to see if it was as good as I remembered it. Despite the fact that I now knew everything about the characters and plot, and had by this time seen the 1950s film based on the book (good flick, by the way), I still enjoyed the novel and was impressed with what Levin had accomplished.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Stephen King once commented about author Ira Levin: "Every novel he has ever written has been a marvel of plotting. He is the Swiss watchmaker of the suspense novel; he makes what the rest of us do look like those five-dollar watches you can buy in the discount drug stores." He went on to lament that Levin's most effective book (and his first!), "A Kiss before Dying," is not much read these days.
Here's your chance to fix this situation! "A Kiss before Dying" is now back in print, in a nice trade paperback, for the first time since the early 90s (when a mass-market paperback was briefly available to tie-in with the forgotten movie adaptation starring Sean Young and Matt Dillon). First published in 1953 when Levin was only twenty-three, "A Kiss before Dying" is one of the most remarkable suspense novels ever penned and a masterpiece of literary noir. The greatest suspense writer of all time, Cornell Woolrich, highly influenced Levin, and this book seems like an overt homage to many of Woolrich's devices. It's the only suspense novel I know of that honestly compares with the master.
To tell much about the plot would ruin the shocks and surprises awaiting you in these pages. Levin hurls out plot twists that genuinely jolt the reader and turn the whole story upside down in moments (King referred to one of the twists as "a real screeching bombsell" of a surprise). The story begins at a large college, where Dorothy Kingship, daughter of a wealthy industrialist, has learned that she is pregnant. Her boyfriend, a handsome, dashing, but callous, calculating, and completely amoral young man is unhappy with the news; he hoped to marry into the rich family as his quick ticket to success, and the uptight Leo Kingship will certainly disinherit his daughter when he finds out about the pregnancy.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Taught, Tense, Satisfying Thriller July 5, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ira Levin's `A Kiss Before Dying' is a taught, suspenseful thriller about a self-absorbed sociopath intent on marrying into money. The novel is divided into three parts, each focusing on one of three heirs to the Kingship Copper fortune. The sociopath, who we meet on the first page, is beautifully drawn and impeccably believable as he plots and plans to marry youngest daughter, Dorothy Kingship, and then sees his hard work fall apart as things fly out of control. But you just can't keep a good sociopath down, and what won't work with one sister might work well enough with another.

The novel is written in Levin's signature detached prose, which works perfectly for this noir-influenced, Hitchcock-like story - we find ourselves inside the heads of multiple characters, providing motive and believability to a plotline that comes dangerously close to being a potboiler. There's plenty of suspense and tension, the characters are likable and identifiable, and the twist (yes, there's a twist) is actually surprising (at least for readers who haven't seen one of the film versions of the novel!). Best of all, everything comes together satisfactorily in the end - and endings are the most difficult for books like this one.

Highly recommended - the 1956 movie version (with Robert Wagner and Joanne Woodward) isn't bad, either; it's just not as good as the book. It was an easy read on Kindle - if you like it, try Levin's other novels (`This Perfect Day,' `Rosemary's Baby,' `The Stepford Wives,' or `Boys from Brazil').
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Kindle Read June 1, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My first introduction to the author Ira Levin: A great 'can't put it down', 'stayed up until the wee hours' to finish it novel. I can't wait to read his other works! And of course, with my Kindle, I can go purchase a few of those books right now.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars full of suspense, not dated at all August 25, 2001
Format:Paperback
'A kiss before dying' was written in the fifties, and apart from some very non-essential aspects it is not dated at all. The book is about a young college student from a poor family who wants to marry a rich girl and for that he is prepared to do practically everything. Until she meets the wrong person, who starts digging... There are some very ingenious turns in the book, so telling more about the story would only give it all away. I can only say Read it! It is definitely worth your time.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT! December 28, 2011
Format:Paperback
Ira Levin's books are always page turners. But I found that this book in particular spoke to my inner "girl detective"-- I even identified with Ellen! I love the 1950's tenor of the setting, dialogue and throughout all aspects of the novel. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quick mystery read without the blood and guts of many other books.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than the 2 movies made from the novel
Read it when I was a teenager, and just reread 45 years later. Boy does this one hod up. Much better than the 2 movies made from the novel. The only problem was the small print.
Published 18 days ago by sammy
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful mystery....
told in a slightly different and interesting way. Rich with characters and the 1950's era of life, this story tells the events of an intelligent killer with a twisted mind, willing... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Twostory
4.0 out of 5 stars Levin's first novel
Haven't read as yet but an looking forward to it as I have enjoyed other books by Ira Levin
Published 1 month ago by Roger F. West
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It keeps you on your toes!
Published 1 month ago by SHARON UMHOLTZ
5.0 out of 5 stars so how good could it really be
This book was written in the 50's by a 24-year-old, so how good could it really be? Turns out, REALLY good. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Christian Thorpe
5.0 out of 5 stars I did not want to put it down!
I liked that I did not even know the killer's name for the first half of the book. I usually see the twist coming, but it came out of left field for me. Loved it!
Published 2 months ago by Grammar Gal
5.0 out of 5 stars loved this book even 60 years after it was written!
I would highly recommend any one who loves suspense novels to read this book! I suggest you check it out
Published 2 months ago by Cheryl
5.0 out of 5 stars A smart, excellent thriller
Like many times before, as I neared the end of A Kiss Before Dying, I began to think of what I could say about it in my review, and the thing that stuck in my head the most was... Read more
Published 3 months ago by AN AVID READER
4.0 out of 5 stars Author has some clever ideas
I stumbled upon this little story and frankly, I love all of Ira Levin's books so far. He has some interesting & diverse ideas (i.e. the Stepford Wives & rosemary's Baby). Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good writing style
A pretty good mystery which may have been edgy at its time, but now, it is rather stale, like a saltine left out for the last 56 years.
Published 3 months ago by Michael McLarnon
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