Review of ‘A Kiss Before Dying’ by Ira Levin

Ira Levin was only twenty-three when his debut novel was published. A Kiss Before Dying is a crime thriller set in the 1950s and the characters are mainly college students. It’s a more surprising read than the blurb suggests. I enjoyed it, although not as much as Rosemary’s Baby and a lot more than This Perfect Day.

Book cover of A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin

The story is about a handsome blonde man who has started college late after being in the Army. He’s from a disadvantaged background and decides he wants to be rich. He fixates on the heiress to a copper mining company, a fellow student. However, when she gets pregnant and the abortion pills he obtains don’t work, he does something villainous and seems to get away with it. Now that others are on his trail, this leads to more evil deeds. Will he be caught and dealt with before time runs out?

The narrative style was deceptively straightforward, with natural dialogue which I found appealing. There was a classic twist halfway through which I should’ve guessed but didn’t. I could see what was going to happen with the ending, but still, it was quite shocking.

I would definitely recommend this book for fans of crime fiction in which ordinary people are the detectives and for anyone looking for a 1950s read which isn’t too dated.

First published in 1954. This edition published in 2011 by Corsair with an introduction by Chelsea Cain.

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4 thoughts on “Review of ‘A Kiss Before Dying’ by Ira Levin”

  1. I love Levin’s work! I’ve still got this one to read and these editions look very bright and cheery on the bookshelf 🤩(even though Rosemary’s Baby is dark!) was a little disappointed in ‘Sliver’ – I thought the film was slightly better 😯

    1. You’re going to love this one, then 😀 Yes, I like the design of these editions too! I haven’t read any of his others, except The Stepford Wives a long time ago.

  2. I still need to read my own copy of Rosemary’s Baby but having seen the amazing movie not too long ago, I’m trying to wait a bit so my memory of it all fades. But man… hard to forgot that ending! Will remember to try more of this authors book if Rosemary’s Baby turns out as good as I hope it is. 😀 Thanks for sharing!

    1. The film of Rosemary’s Baby is very close to the book 🙂 A Kiss Before Dying doesn’t have any kind of supernatural element so it’s not quite the same experience but there are some interesting similarities.

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