Book report on A Kiss before Dying Ira Levin Page count: 300 First published: 1953 Dorothy, Bud's girlfriend tells him she's pregnant. Bud is very angry but pretends he loves her. He gives her pills to get rid of the baby. -FLASHBACK: Bud was very popular at school. After the war he had several jobs and an affair with an rich widow. he went to Stoddart and met Dorothy.
-PRESENT: If the pills won't work, Bud promises to marry Dorothy. Bud sees a golden future ahead because Dorothy's father is president of Kingships Copper and very wealthy. The pills don't work and they " ll marry in three days. Bud doesn't want to marry her instead he is making plans to kill her. Bud gives her poisoned pills and let her transfer a Spanish line which says something like: I'm sorry for the trouble, There is nothing else I can do.
He mails the line to her sister in Dorothy's handwriting, Ellen. If Dorothy isn't dead in three days he assumes she didn't take the pills. When he realises that Ellen would receive the messages he have to kill Dorothy by throwing her from a building. People think it was suicide, because of the note Ellen received. Bud is proud he commited a murder and got away with it. Ellen doesn't think it was suicide and starts to investigate.
She wants to know who made Dorothy pregnant. She gets the names of Gordon Gant and Dwight Powell. She finds out Gordon isn't the killer. Gordon sees a letter from Ellen written to her boyfriend, Bud!
She writes Bud, Dwight has to be the killer. Ellen goes out with Dwight. Later she takes him to the murder scene. Dwight doesn't seem to be it but he tells Ellen he has an adress of another friend of Dorothy's in his apartment. When they go there Bud is already waiting there. He kills Dwight, telling Ellen Dwight killed Dorothy.
Bud drives Ellen out of town. Gant is worried. Bud confesses to Ellen and kills her. He is going to contact Marion. Marion like him and doesn't mind that her father does not. Bud and Marion plan to marry in December.
Bud now works at Kingship Corporation. Gant finds out that Bud knew Marion two sisters. Later when he inspects Bud's apartment he sees pamphlets about the three sisters and Kingship Copper. Know he is sure Bud killed the two.
Because they haven't got enough evidence they are bringing Bud to a copper smelt factory. Standing on a catwalk above a vat of boiling liquid Bud realises they want him to fall. He confesses and slips out. He falls in the vat.
He is dead. Marion and father Kingship return home and meet Bud's mother. 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 story plays in New York and a few other places which aren't mentioned by name. The time it plays in are the fifties.
The people in the book are from "regular families" (Bud Corliss), from "rich families" (all the members of the Kingship family), the from the other persons home aren't mentioned. The age of the persons varies between 20 (students) and 60 (parents) years old. Some of the people got a job, other are still students. The story is told chronologically, 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 is more time covered. Marion is going to marry on 24 December 1951, almost nine months after Ellen's death The story is told "out of the eyes" of the main characters. As well as the "good" as the "bad". All the narrators do take part in the story. The story is chronologically, but with flashbacks.
The time the story takes is about 3 years. 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: Dorr ie, 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 committed suicide, but that it was murder, that she was pregnant and going to marry (sth. old, sth. new, 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's tories 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. "A Kiss Before Dying" seems to me a story with many elements involved. The cover says it's a thriller, but there are also a lot of detective-scenes. And you could consider it as a psychological drama as well, because the trains of thought and the feelings of the principal persons are described. The theme of the story is about the struggle between good and bad. Good wins in the end of the story.
Money is also a motive which is important for the story, because his mother wanted him to mary a rich woman and he killed the girls for the money. So actually he killed them for his mother. I think that "a kiss before dying " is an intresting novel, which isn't boring at all and not to hard and even readable for people who hate books. One thing that's unrealistic is that the police doesn't investigate the kills. I've seen the movie, but that was a long time ago so I don't know exactly how it went, but I thought the movie is quite different. As an example the names of the people playing in the movie are quite different.
The author sure knows how to keep things exiting! He always ends the chapter with a thrilling moment, which made me want to go on reading. For example the part that I enjoyed reading very much. The passage in which Bud pushes Dorothy off the edge of a high building. The excitement gets bigger and bigger because you know what will happen but it keeps during.
It takes a complete chapter leading to the murder. From this point the story suddenly gets a complete different turn. I almost couldn't put the book aside. Once I started reading I didn't have any trouble with not be able to keep reading. Her style of writing pleased me very well, it never drops off. I experienced this book as form of acting, in writing.
The characters in the story are individually exposed from the inside, in a seamless performance from one perspective to the other. Perhaps this is the secret why this book is read by many people. I detected only one small thing where I was beginning to feel bored about; In the part called "Marion", we caught sight of the inside of the factory of Mr. Kingship, by looking through Buds' eyes. But in my view she was endlessly persuading about it, I got tired of it. I cannot say this book was hard for me to read, I think this is the suitable level of difficulty. All in all I'm very glad I've read this book.
The other books she wrote as well, have aroused my curiosity, and before long, one of them will be standing in my bookcase. The story was realistic. Sometimes a bit complicated. It looks like a normal crime story, that's why it's not very special and fantastic.
I couldn't identify with the main character, but I didn't like him that much. He is a killer who plans his murders and thinks about every step he makes. He pretends to be someone else, his real ident y is kept secret by him. If I would know anyone like him I wouldn't know he was like that because he doesn't shows his real identity. I don't know killers who don't keep it a secret either.
He kills people, what isn't the worst, but he does it for the money! Except the killing thing he is probably quite OK, he is after all the "ideal-son-in-law" and good in school. Ellen Kingship and Gordon Gant were appealing persons to me. If the people in the book really existed, I think those two would suit me best.
They are both hustlers, I like that. It appears like everybody else in the story needs evidence before they can be satisfied, then again others can't look beyond their noses. Ellen and Gordon rely on their instincts. They couldn't just make for the facts. The only bad conduct of Ellen, according to me, is that she is very cruel.
She also acts in a very thoughtless way and that's why Bud Corliss finally gets his hands on her and succeeds to kill her.