Book Review: A Kiss Before Dying

A KISS BEFORE DYING | Ira Levin
2011 (first published 19530 | Corsair
Rating: 4/5 stars

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One young man will stop at nothing to change his life and get where he wants to go. Nothing is too much, not even murder. He has dreams. He has plans. He will use his charm, good looks, and cunning personality to accomplish these things. There’s just one problem. Dorothy was supposed to be his ticket to a new life, but now she’s pregnant. If your first plan doesn’t succeed, how far are you willing to go to accomplish your goals? What if murder could solve all your problems?

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Ira Levin debuted into the literary world with A KISS BEFORE DYING, which gives the reader a complex and psychologically riveting looking into the mind of a motivated young man. Levin introduces us to our main character in the way those around him see him. We meet a charming and attractive young man who any lady would be lucky to date, which is exactly what Dorothy has done. She has fallen for who she thinks is the man of her dreams. Dorothy doesn’t realize that she is being targeted for her wealth and the future career this man thinks he can gain through her father.

Levin wisely sticks to a storyline that was relatable for the time period it was written and published during. Throughout the 1950s in the United States pregnancy before marriage was a massive moral debate and largely frowned upon by families. When Dorothy finds herself pregnant the debate between her and her lover is very realistic. I appreciate that Levin made this book so relatable for the time it was written in, but also made it a plot that could stand the test of time.

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A KISS BEFORE DYING is a classic piece of crime fiction investigating the moral compass. Looking into the mind of our main character is fascinating. He has a backstory and motivation that make the reader invested in where his plans will lead. His actions on the other hand are much more devious than the average person would use. Levin makes sure to treat these psychological aspects with care and respect, while also including a level of comedic relief to lighten the overall mood of the story.

If you’re looking for a piece of older crime fiction that has held up well over time, this is a great addition to your TBR!


This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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