Boekverslag : Ira Levin - A Kiss Before Dying
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A Kiss before Dying


Wolters-Noordhoff (Black Birds)

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


This book is a novel, it is a thriller.


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.


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


The novel is told in three parts: the first part (Dorothy) is told from the point of view of Bud; the secand part (Ellen) from the point of view of his second victiml and the third part (Marion) from the point of view of his third victim.


- 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 bad feelings. He thinks he is genius, able to plan the perfect crime. (to kill Dorothy, Ellen and Marion).

- Dorothy Kingship: Dorrie, Bud's girlfriend. She is the youngest daughter of Leo Kingship, a rich factory owner. Dorothy is a faithful 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. 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 Kingship 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 New York 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.

Short summary

Part one: Dorothy

Bud Corliss was born in Menasset, on the outskirts of Fall River. He was one of the best pupils of the school. He was also a beautiful boy. He was almost in everything the best, but then he was drafted. First he was in Basic training camp, then he goes to the real war. When he shot Jap, he finds out that he likes to kill people. After he received on honorble discharge in January 1947. He went to New York. He stayed there for 5,5 months, had 6 different jobs but didn't like one of them. Then he had an affaire with a rich women for 6 months and then he returned home by his mother. Finally he chose Stoddard Uneversity in Blue River, Iowa. There he met Dorothy Kinship, a rich girl, he wanted to marry her and he wanted to live of the money of her dad. But then there gappened something he didn't like; she was pregnant. Her father didn't want to give the money to her when she would be pregnant before she was married. He didn't loved, he only loved her money. So he tried to get pills to kill her baby, but the pills failed. So he decided to kill her. He tells her that he had other pills to kill her baby but she didn't want to take them, but he told her if the pills didn't work, he would marry her the next day without the money of her father. Bud put some poison in the pills to kill her. The next day she wasn't dead and she came to school and told him the pills had not worked, but he knew she lied because otherwise she would be dead by then. So he said "OK we get married right away", so she goes home to put some clothes on to marry in. Then they went to the 14 story Blue River Municipal Building. Before they got married hey went to the roof. There he pushed her of the roof and she fall dead on the ground. It looked like she commited suicide.

Part two: Ellen

Ellen didn't believed that Dorothy commited suicide. So she went to find out the truth herself, because the cops wouldn't do a thing because they believed she commited suicide. She didn't believed that story because she thought that Dorothy was at the point of getting married. She thought that Dorothy was killed by her boyfriend. So Ellen was trying to find that boyfriend. She didn't know a name but she knew that he was a blond and handsome guy who shared a class with hher. She found two suitable guys. Bat at that moment, she also found out that none of boyth boys did it. Because her own boyfriend Bud the killed Ellen herself. Before he killed her he told Ellen that he was the one who had killed Dorothy.

Part three: Marion

Bud didn't want to kill Dorothy or Ellen. The only thing he wanted was money. Dorothy was pregnant too soon, so she had to die. Ellen found out that Dorothy didn't commited suicide, so she had to die aswell. Bud decided to marry the third daughter of Leo Kingship, named Marion Kingship. First Bud studied the things Marion loved. Then he made contact with her and they talked about the things Marion loved. She immediately liked him, because she thought he loved the same things as she. They were becoming closer and closer. After several months they decided to marry each other. Only leo K. didn't liked that idea very much, because a boy who knew Dorothy and Ellen told him that Bud had killed them. First leo K. didn't believe that, because the boy, named Gorden Grant, didn;t have any proof. Gorden goes to Bud's appartment and steals some proof against Bud. Then Gorden showed it to Leo and to Marion. They decided to kill Bud. They went to Leo's copper factory and there they pushed Bud. So Bud disappeared into a giant container filled with molten copper.


I want to give this book a nine as a mark, because I like thrillers. Sometimes it is a awful book especialy when he killed the daughters of Leo Kingship. If you have read this book you want to read more books of this writer.

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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