©1953 Ira Levin (P)2011 AudioGO
Ira Levin is best known for his horror and thriller tales from the 1960s and '70s, including Rosemary's Baby and the Stepford Wives--both undoubted classics. This book from the 1950s should be far better known that it is, because it is the equal of his later work, but in the more standard genre of mystery. Levin is a magnificent plotter, and I guarantee you will not have foreseen some of the twists he provides here. But beyond that, he manages to make you care about all the characters, good and bad. I cannot provide much detail without giving away some of the surprises, but believe me that for a novel in the mystery/thriller vein, you could not do better than A Kiss Before Dying. In addition, this narrator, who is new to me, does a wonderful job of providing distinctive but not distracting voicing for each character. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
I've read this book several times -- never seen either of the film adaptations -- so I knew the story well. I thought it would be fun to have someone read it to me for a change.
It was. I loved the introduction at the beginning -- told a little bit about the book when it was published in 1953, when Ira Levin was just 23 years old, about how it was received back then. That set the stage.
Suffice it to say that the audible version is a total delight, doesn't disappoint in the slightest. It's stood the test of time very well -- nothing in it is old, everything could happen just as easily today as it did back them.
Most fascinating was thinking about the mind of the author, Ira Levin-- how he could come up with this innovative plot, then move on to works like 'Deathtrap', surely one of the most pleasantly confounding plays ever produced. Then to move on to the Nazi thriller, 'The Boys from Brazil' then 'Rosemary's Baby' -- a very different genre.. After that, 'Sliver' -- also outstanding -- and 'The Stepford Wives', a classic in its own right And all this from an author who's first produced play was the comedy "No Time for Sergeants"!
I've loved every one of Levin's books for different reasons. I'm so happy the Audible made "A Kiss Before Dying" available in audio, and hope that both 'Sliver' -- which is much like 'Kiss' in many ways -- and "The Stepford Wives" will be available soon, too. Although the film version of that, starring Katherine Ross and Tine Louise, of all people, was very good, it doesn't compare to the written version. Levin's books are really are classics, all of them. I know I'll listen to "Kiss" again and again. It's just a very very good book.
The Dragon Mother
This book was originally written in 1953 and I have really started taking a liking to these old mystery novels. It is not the same as a novel written today in where the setting is in the 1950s, but an actual novel written during that timeframe thinks nothing of mentioning smoking in college classrooms, the jukebox on the table at your favorite coffee shop, or the folded handkerchief that gentleman would offer ladies who were crying. You just gotta love those little details.
This story was clever masterpiece of mystery and suspense. Our young protagonist is a gentleman determined to make it big by marrying big. He tries to find young ladies who are daughters of wealthy families to date. He woos them carefully, so if the relationship doesn’t work out, he can move on without alerting other young ladies that he is dating girls for their potential to make him rich. He thinks he has found the perfect girl in Dorothy.
All is going well until Dorothy turns up pregnant. Then he sees all of his carefully laid plans start to go down the drain. He can’t just dump her, that wouldn’t look good. He can’t marry her because her father would disown her because of the unplanned pregnancy. Then he wouldn’t get any money and they would have to live in poverty. But if she were to suffer an ‘accident’ then he would be off the hook and could continue dating again.
Now it seems like he has gotten away with the perfect crime … or has he? One of Dorothy’s sisters gets involved and starts asking questions and he begins to feel threatened by her discoveries. If she finds out too much, he might go to jail and never get rich. Maybe she should have an ‘accident’ too before she discovers too much.
Overall this was a great little mystery / suspense story. Even though you know who killed Dorothy there were many, many more twists and turns in this book. Enough to keep you going full speed ahead until you see the light. It was a very satisfying read.
The Narration Review
This audiobook was narrated by Hauro Hantman. He has a nice, clear, and soft spoken voice. He was very easy to listen to and he had a calming effect. Definitely a voice you can listen to while relaxing. There were a few times in the story where the juke box was playing and instead of just reading the lyrics, Hauro sang the tunes. I discovered that Hauro has a very pleasant singing voice, too!
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 lots of money to be complete. Coming from a very poor background, what better way to use his brains and good looks, than to find the perfect rich wife. Only when complications arise, maybe she needs to dye. Maybe this happens one too many times!!
The build up of the plot through the killer's mind is done beautifully in this book. His "out there" reasoning is followed through from beginning to end in a book that constantly makes the reader want to warn the characters of impending danger throughout the story. Suspense is built to a tingling point more than once in this masterful psychological suspense. Many of Ira Levin's books were made into movies, but the book never reads like a movie script. Must read for anyone thinking of writing psychological suspense.
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
Written in the early 50s and this novel is both interesting yet flat because of its moment. It was a time when the techniques of pace had not yet been fully developed. Perhaps because there's so much competition for scarce leisure time, crime fiction writers have learned fast cuts, rapid panning, quick dialogue, and pace... pace... pace.... This is also the work of a very young and new writer at the time. But... but... it's a note perfect trip to a time of nickel juke boxes, women who smoked Benson & Hedges, and fedoras. Levin's late talent was glimmering through his construction of a moment just before the memory of many. I was not impressed with Mauro Hantman's thin voice. Distracting.
On balance... can't recommend the book.
I'm open to any book as long as it is true to itself.
This book is well-written and captures the time period very effectively. The events leading up to the conclusion were interesting with clear characters and description. However, I left the book feeling a little let down. The ending was not very clever and left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied. I read "Rosemary's Baby" and had really enjoyed that, but feel that this book had the potential to be better than it turned out to be.
Master of storytelling, It's an exciting read. Rosemary's baby is the most popular but A Kiss Before Dying is the masterpiece.
Probably not. I generally like to move on to something else.
This book was written in the 1950's and is still so relevant today.the main character is a true sociopath. He could step into any current novel. At the time this was written it must have been a very shocking story, somewhat like the great Patricia Highsmith.
He's very good!
No, it didn't make me laugh or cry but it was very suspenseful.
I enjoyed this book. I'm an Ira Levin fan,but had never read this book. I believe he was only in his twenty's when he wrote this. I would love it if you would produce The Stepford Wives,one of Ira's best.
I don't want to spoil anything but I have to say that my mouth literally dropped open at a certain point in the story. I ran over and rewound my ipod just to make sure I heard what I thought I heard. Excellent example of a classic mystery.
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