Boekverslag : Ira Levin - A Kiss Before Dying
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A Kiss before Dying (1952)


Ira Levin

Point of view

The story is told by someone who is outside the story, in the third person past.


Bud Corliss: a handsome young man, intelligent. He plans everything very precisely. He wants to be rich and sucessfull, he looks for a rich girl and wants to marry her. He is very gently, good at winning people's trust. He is cold and full of hate. He kills three people without any scruples. He thinks he is genius, able to plan the perfect crime. (D, Ellen, Marion)

Dorothy Kingship: Dorrie, Bud's girlfriend. She is the youngest daughter of Leo Kingship, a rich factory owner. Dorothy is a faithful, gullible (onnozel) girl, hunger to love. Wants a nice husband, a family. She thinks Bud loves her, but he is only interested at her money. She is not interested at money or succes, because she is already rich.

Ellen Kingship: sister of Dorothy, second daughter of Leo Kingship. She is an intelligent, pretty girl. She finds out that Dorothy didn't comitted suicide, but that it was murder, that she was pregnant and going to marry (sth.old,, something borrowed, something blue). She didn't find out that Dorothy's murder and her boyfriend are the same person until it's too late. Bud kills her too.

Marion Kingship: Leo's oldest daughter, Bud's third victim. She is alone, doesn't want to be independent of her father. She falls in love with Bud and wants to marry him. She doesn't believe Gordons' stories and thinks her father has sent him to check Bud. Later she believes it and wants to see how Bud is going to die.

Gordon Gant: a handsome, blond man, with blue eyes. He helps Ellen to find out who the murderer is. He knows the truth and loses his job as disc-jockey for it. Together with Leo King- ship he wants to know the truth about everything from Bud.

Dwight Powell: Ellen thinks he is the murderer. He is also blond and has blue eyes. He had loved Dorothy and feels guilty about her suicide. He wants to prove that he could not be the father of the baby. And shows Ellen that he was in NY when she was murdered. Dwight is also killed by Bud.

Bud's mother: wants that Bud gets married with a rich girl a wants him to be sucessfull. She does everything for him.

Leo Kingship: a rich man, boss of Kingship Copper Inc. He is not very sensitive, doesn't love his daughters very much. He wants revenge and gets it. In the end Bud dies, the perfect crime, but planned by Leo and not by Bud.


The sory takes place in America in the fifties. At Stoddard University in Blue River (Part I and II) and in New York(III).


The story is told cronologically, except in Part I, chapter two. In that chapter you get some information about Bud's past His name is not mentioned yet!! Part I is about seven or eight days, 1950. Part II starts a year after Dorothy's death, 1951 Part II is ten days, from 5 to 15 March. In part III is more time covered. Marion is going to marry on 24 December 1951, almost nine months after Ellen's death.


It's an opening in the event, the book starts in a conversation between 'he' and 'she'. We don't know who they are. The feeling in the beginning is hate, 'he' is angry because she is going to smash his plans.


The end is closed, Bud is dead and can not kill anymore. Otherwise it is not statisfied what was in Bud's mind, to kill all three sisters, we don't get any insight in his psyche.


The struggle between good and bad. Good wins in the end of the story.


A Kiss before Dying: Bud Corliss pretended to love his victims first, then kill them. Love came from the three girls, death from Bud.

The author

Ira Levin was born in New York in 1929. He went to Drake University in Iowa and New York University. He has three sons. Other books: Rosemary's Baby (1967), This perfect day (1970), The Stepford wives (1972), Boys From Brazil (1976),

He has received the Edgar Allan Poe Award for A Kiss before Dying and Deathtrap (1978), a play. His work is full of suspense caused by satanism, secrets, violence and death. He constructs the plots in such a way that both good and bad characters must, at times, change their plans because of a crisis. This is particulary the case in A Kiss before Dying.
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