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A Kiss Before Dying Audiobook

A Kiss Before Dying

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©1953 Ira Levin (P)2011 AudioGO

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (744 )
5 star
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4.2 (664 )
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4.2 (661 )
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  •  
    Gudrun Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada 06-19-12
    Gudrun Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada 06-19-12 Member Since 2017

    I'm open to any book as long as it is true to itself.

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    "Didn't quite deliver"

    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.

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Mcewen-asker San Jose, CA USA 02-23-16
    M. Mcewen-asker San Jose, CA USA 02-23-16 Member Since 2011

    Audio addict with my best friend, an ear-bud.

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    "Brilliantly Entertaining"

    Beautifully read with great characterization and pacing. Thrilling brain teaser and psychologically challenging. Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison 02-10-16
    Alison 02-10-16 Member Since 2016

    I like a good read with mystery and romance

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow"

    This was a well written piece with a great narrator and I give my five stars ecstatically.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AudioAddict 02-05-16
    AudioAddict 02-05-16

    I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Oldie but a Darn Goodie"

    STORY (suspense) - This book was written in the 1950s and has become a classic...and for good reason. As the summary suggests, it's about the murder of a young girl named Dorothy and has the added psychological component of allowing the listener into the killer's head as he plans the deed. But what the summary doesn't tell you is that that's just the beginning! There's much more that happens in this story. Wish I could give a hint but, since the summary didn't, I won't either.

    The book is very well written, and the author uses an extensive vocabulary. I didn't use a dictionary because I still was able to understand everything, plus I didn't want to disrupt my listening experience. (Words like " avuncular" and "susurrant" come to mind.) Even though the story takes place about 66 years ago at the writing of this review, it's still unusual and special. You may even enjoy reminiscing about luncheonettes, telephone booths and radios that have to warm up before they will work. And the suspense grows until the very end. I thought I had everything figured out, but I was totally surprised at how things wrapped up. Love it when that happens!

    PERFORMANCE - The reader does a good job, although he doesn't even attempt to differentiate between the main characters (a pet peeve of mine). I particularly dislike his portrayal of a male (can't say who) toward the end of the book. The character is obviously a good guy and trying to help, yet he comes across as a smug a$$hole. Maybe it was the reader's attempt to misdirect listeners as to his motives, but I didn't like it.

    OVERALL - I'd recommend this book for anyone old enough to enjoy a good, suspenseful murder story. There's no cursing or sex, and the murders aren't excessively gory or violent. (It's the 50's...)

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 01-02-15
    David 01-02-15 Member Since 2017

    Indiscriminate Reader

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    "Pacey, suspenseful thriller"

    If at first you don't succeed, get rid of the girl and move on to the next sister.

    A Kiss Before Dying is a taut little thriller about a sociopath who conceives an ingenuous plan to seduce the daughter of a wealthy copper baron. Except she goes and gets pregnant before his plan can come to fruition. Since Daddy is the moralistic disinheriting type, he figures a kid before they are properly married and he's had time to work his charms and soften the old man up will just ruin everything. When he can't persuade her to get rid of it, he's left with only one option - a well-planned murder in which he manages to make it look like a suicide, and then avoid any connection between him and the dead girl.

    Which allows him to move on to daughter #2.

    But daughter #2 proves a little too intuitive — she starts putting clues together and realizing her sister didn't commit suicide, and wants to find out who murdered her. She figures everything out just a little too late.

    And our boy, as long on audacity as he is short on scruples, decides third time's the charm: the rich industrialist had three daughters, and after all that research he did to seduce the first two, he knows the oldest sister pretty well...

    As improbable as this story may sound, I couldn't really spot any plot holes. Sure, our protagonist needed a bit of luck here and there, but nothing so overwhelmingly coincidental as to be completely implausible. He's just a meticulous, cold-blooded schemer with a knack for manipulation.

    A lot of people want books with "relocatable" protagonists. Well, the protagonist of this book is a murderous, gold-digging sociopath. You want him to trip up and get caught, and you want his victims to get away, and at the same time, the exciting part is finding out how he's going to get away with it.

    This book is dated now — it was written in 1954 and it's set in the early fifties, so the campus life described, and the so-visible class distinctions are not the same as now, but that just makes this suspenseful novel a period piece as well. In fact, some of the period details are what made it interesting. For example, there is surprisingly little moralizing about the proposed abortion — she doesn't want to do it, but it seems more for emotional reasons than any real ethical or religious qualms. And it struck me that in some ways, the "boy from the wrong side of the tracks" was a thing that would be even harder to envision today — nowadays, we like to pretend that American society is less class-stratified, but that's because the rich are increasingly distant and out of sight. Working class people just don't socialize, at all, with the very wealthy, which makes it easier for us to pretend that there is no such thing as class.

    Ira Levin also wrote other thrillers, like Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives, and with this pacey, suspenseful novel, it's easy to see how readily his stories became a part of pop culture. Definitely worth reading, and motivated me to read more by him someday.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saman Houston, TX, United States 10-02-14
    Saman Houston, TX, United States 10-02-14 Member Since 2010

    I am a lover of history and the fantastic tales of human achievement (or folly). Sometimes, a grand author captures my imagination.

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    "Enjoyable ..."

    I had sorely missed reading a good crime novel for ages. Some list recommended this as a worthy read and I was intrigued by the Author. I had not known of Ira Levin and many of his writings that were turned into major motion pictures. Someone wrote that this novel, the first from Levin, is his Magnum opus

    Certainly the character of Bud Corliss, a certified psychopath is an intriguing invention. As you read through the pages, you can feel the drive of this individual to attain the one thing he lacks; money, fame and social standing. He will do anything to attain his goals including outright murder. He feels nothing for his victims as he calculatingly removes his obstacles.

    This is not a mystery novel but a true, fast paced, crime story. It is beautifully written and keeps you well engaged until the last page is turned. I really enjoyed this book and thoroughly recommend it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy J Tornado Alley OK 06-07-14
    Nancy J Tornado Alley OK 06-07-14 Member Since 2011

    Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover

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    "An Exceptional Groundbreaking Crime Drama"

    When you listen to this book, it seems as fresh and current as it was when first published in 1953, with a main character psychopath/sociopath who is charming and ruthless, preying on young women and willing to kill to get what he wants.

    Ira Levin was 23 when "A Kiss Before Dying" was published, and I marvel at the taut, complex and frightening plot which he produced. This is especially true when you consider that his other works through his lifetime included "No Time For Sergeants," "The Boys From Brazil," "Rosemary's Baby," and "The Stepford Wives."

    While I had previously seen a movie of this story, I had never read the book. The book is sooo much better at building the suspense and keeping you guessing. The author even manages to keep the reader guessing for a while over which of three possible young men is the culprit.

    The recording also contains an informative introduction about the author and the book, and how the book was received when it was first published.

    Highly recommended to anyone who appreciates taut and careful plotting, and enjoys classic mystery stories.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 11-09-12
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 11-09-12 Member Since 2010

    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.

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    "Oddly Flat, Yet Haunting Sense of Place"

    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.

    11 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leigh Baton Rouge, LA, United States 10-02-11
    Leigh Baton Rouge, LA, United States 10-02-11
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    "Master Storyteller"

    Master of storytelling, It's an exciting read. Rosemary's baby is the most popular but A Kiss Before Dying is the masterpiece.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 06-19-16
    John 06-19-16 Member Since 2016

    St. Louis, Missouri

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    "I Only Put This One Down When I Absolutely Had To"

    Which is strange because I don’t usually listen to books like this, preferring the crime fiction set in country houses with plenty of Daimlers and second footmen sprinkled about. But I devoured this one with relish. And I may do it again.

    Yes, I know it’s a classic—but it’s one of those paradoxes called a “modern classic”. Usually, I prefer to invest my time in works that have stood the test of time. And, to be blunt, I eschew more modern works for the simple reason that many have been instrumental in establishing—or at least validating—the modern, attenuated, relativistic times in which we live. When in the market for murder I like my detectives to operate in a somewhat firmer moral universe. Of course I expect ambiguities; life is full of them so fiction should be, too. But start psychologizing away motives or blaming socio-economic conditions and you lose me. The modern craze for the anti-hero just ain’t my bag.

    So when Audible made A Kiss Before Dying available as a Daily Deal, I hesitated. Wasn't this a harbinger of a genre that lent luster to the lurid? That glorified the grit? Isn’t it the story of a poor kid who’ll do anything just to get ahead?

    Yes. But while we are shown the psychological and economic conditions that made murder possible, those conditions are never advanced as an excuse for our bad boy—not even by the bad boy himself. And he is indubitably bad. So much so that, near the end of the book, when you overhear his voice from another room your skin crawls. At least mine did.

    Under the surface of the book there’s undoubtedly a hint of what would become more and more fashionable later on: a critique of “conventional” morality. It’s akin to the sort of critique that could be taken (and certainly was taken, by many in the last several decades) as “proof” of the bankruptcy of “conventional” morality. But, as Oscar Wilde said of A Picture of Dorian Grey, this story contains, “a moral which the prurient mind will not be able to find…but which will be revealed to all whose minds are healthy.”

    Approached in that spirit, things begin to clarify. Save for the father’s moral strictures—anticipated by his daughter but never spoken by him—the whole mechanism of the tragedy might never have gotten underway. But as I said, the strictures are unspoken. We never know if they would have been. True, the father was a hard nut in the past, but there’s also the possibility that his daughter is jumping to conclusions when she says he will cut her off without a penny when he finds she has…done something I can’t say or I’ll ruin the book for you. And in the meantime you come to empathize with and even like the father. Reality, in other words, is far more nuanced than any straight-ahead sociological critique. As in the case of Wilde’s masterpiece, a novel about a sociopath need not glorify his disorder.

    Then there’s the structure. This is simply one of the best-constructed stories I’ve ever listened to; I don't believe I've felt so much suspense since Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White. What seems a minor detail at the beginning adds immeasurably to the crescendo at the end. The run-up to the first crime is pitted with so many false starts, where things could have gone differently (i.e.: better), as to make one a little squeamish. And the real bombshell, the thing that makes you go prickly all over, occurs in the second third of the book. That’s when you realize Levin has pulled a masterful fast one on you and all you can do is admire his dexterity.

    The writing—the way sentences and images are crafted—is superb. A burst of tropical birdsong is likened to the flutter of multi-colored playing cards tossed in the sun. The description of a copper smelting works verges on a sort of Walt-Whitman-esque poetry. The story moves like a smartly edited movie. And perhaps best of all, Levin writes with what Stephen King has called a dry wit. Completely different from, let’s say, a Campion or Lord Peter story, but still wit enough to leaven the tension. No pun intended.

    Our narrator, Mauro Hantman, was the right pick for this story. Much of it takes place inside our bad boy’s head, and there Hantman is spot-on. During dialogue between characters—especially male characters—I needed to concentrate sometimes to keep them separate (not unusual in audiobooks, no matter how well-performed). But overall and end-to-end, he does a superb job; it is one of those happy instances where the tone of the writing coincides perfectly with the tone of the reader’s voice.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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