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"A Kiss Before Dying" (I. Levin)
A summary and analysis of the novel "A Kiss Before Dying" by Ira Levin.
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A kiss before dying
Some facts about Ira Levin:
Ira Levin was twenty-two when he wrote his first novel, the award-winning thriller “A Kiss Before Dying”. He was twenty-five when he, fresh from military service, wrote his first play; the smash-hit adaptation of Mac Hyman’s “No Time for Sergeants”. In the years since, he has continued to work both sides of the literary street. His plays include the comedy hit “Critic’s Choice”, the musical “Drat!”, “Cat!” and the thriller “Veronica’s Room”. Among his novels are “Rosemary’s baby”, generally credited or blamed for having sparked the current revival occultism, “The Stepford Wives” and the international best seller “The Boys from Brazil”. A native-born New Yorker Mr. Levin is a alumnus of New York University and has three sons.
The setting of this story take place in a small city called Blue River, which lays someplace in the USA. The most important places are the Stoddard college and the Municipal Building in Blue River. Later the story takes place in New York.
The main characters in the story are:
Dorothy is the victim is this novel. She is a nice girl who does well at school. She is a naive girl too, and sometimes she may be too naive. She can be a little ignorant of the real life, and how things works. She think everything will fix itself if it just gets time ... for example the pregnancy of hers...
Ellen is Dorothy’s sister. She is different from her sister; she dare things that few would ... for example she travels to Blue River to hunt down the murderer ... she is a bit more adventurous. She like taking risks, for example when she told Gordons landlady she was his cousin, without thinking of the consequences. Maybe she should be a little bit more careful?
The third sister. She is different from the other sisters. Maybe Marion is more like Dorothy than Ellen, because she goes to exhibitions and museums instead of big crowds of people. She is not as beautiful as Ellen or Dorothy, so maybe she consider herself smarter than the two sisters.
Leo is the father of the three sisters. He owns Kingship Copper Inc. , which is worth a lot of money. He is a very busy businessman.
One of Ellen’s suspects. Not a major role.
The other of the two suspects. He proves to be innocent.
He was Dorothy’s, and later Ellen’s, boyfriend. Bud is the really bad guy in this story. Even though it does not look like it on the surface. He is a war hero, honour student and a dream to all mother-of-laws. All the girls fall for him in a twinkle in his eyes. Everybody likes him. But inside he is a whole different person. He always choose the easiest ways and methods solving situations, even when it comes to killing the love of your life, because you made her pregnant and don’t want do get married with her, without sensing anything else than a relieving feeling.
Bud and Dorothy are a couple who is happily in love with each other. They both attend Stoddard College in Blue River. Their lives is perfect, love and harmony, they thought until one day. Dorothy is pregnant. It was a bad timing having a baby now, especially for Bud. His plans for his future would fall apart. Dorothy wants to get married, but Bud isn’t very keen. That means he has to drop out of school and find a job. He convinces Dorothy into taking some pills for the pregnancy, and tells her that if the pills don’t work, he will marry her. Dorothy tries the pills, but it has no effect, and then Bud starts to think ahead of what will happen. He has to drop out of school. He won’t get the education he want, which means he won’t get the job he want ... most probably he will get a poorer paid job.
He decides he has to kill her!
He plans the murder very carefully, and prepares what needs to be prepared. But his plans fails, and he starts to get more and more desperate, since the wedding day approaches in a hurry. Clever enough he manages to arrange a “suicide” the very day they are going to get married ... on top of the building where the Marriage Bureau is. He push Dorothy off the edge, and it all looks like a suicide.
After the murder, some time, Bud transfers from Stoddard College to Caldwell College. Bud and Ellen becomes sweethearts, which is a little bit weird, since Ellen is Dorothy’s elder sister. Ellen goes to Blue River because she is very suspicious to the suicide of her younger sister. She wants to investigate what really happened. She writes Bud a letter explaining the case. In Blue River she narrows it down to two suspects (which she will know later is innocent).
Ellen gets to know one of the suspects, Dwight Powell. They go out some times, and one time she follows him home. He goes upstairs to get something, and there Bud is waiting for him. He shoots him with cold blood. Ellen leaps up the stairs, and Bud says Powell tried to kill her. Bud is her hero... later the same night she is dead too.
Later that year he goes back home. There he starts to make out some sick thoughts about killing the third daughter of Leo Kingship, Marion. But on an other hand it would me nice to have Leo Kingship as a father-in-law. He moves to New York to get to know Marion. It doesn’t take long before she is in love with him. It was easy to make her fall in love with him, because he knew about everything about her, and he had wrote down a list of things about her.
Gordon Gant suddenly shows up in New York, and he is on to Bud. He tell about his plans to Leo Kingship, but he don’t want to listen to him. But he changes his mind about hearing when Gordon finds the list of things Bud had written.
One day Bud went with Lei, Marion and Gordon (Gordon was operating under a false name) to Leo Kingships Copperworks. After a tour of the facility Leo and Gant starts to confront Bud with the murder on Dorothy and Ellen. But Bud denies all knowledge, and they are threatening him by being pushed into the copper smelter. He admits it all...
Carelessly he “falls” into the smelter... the nightmare is over for Leo Kingship.
When I started reading this novel, I thought it was boring, but I seemed to be wrong. It is a very interesting and exciting novel. The way he has used the third person view to describe things and thoughts of the different persons. The way the author makes the readers think it is Gordon or Dwight being the killers is a dead-end, which makes you really think of who could be the killer.
I will definite recommend it!
Out of 10 possible points, I would rate it 7,5.
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