Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A Kiss Before Dying

We have an 'unofficial book club' at the place where I get paid to arrive at and remain for 4 hours a day.  There's me - obviously.  There's the Librarian - even more obviously.  There's the Lab Assistant and there's A Reception Lady.  But come to think of it - we don't read the 'same book' and report back with vastly differing or scarily similar reviews.  I guess we kind of do a bit of a dance with the books we read.  A dosey-doh, if you like.   We're more the share-if you-think-I'll-like-it kind of group.  We must come up with a better slogan.
Anyway.  The latest book I was offered (by our American Lab Assistant) was 'A Kiss Before Dying' by Ira Levin.  Written in 1953.
Ira Levin also wrote 'Rosemary's Baby' and 'The Stepford Wives' to name but a few.  I'd never heard of it but I thought I recognised the man's face on the cover and mentioned he reminded me of the 'Hart to Hart' guy, Robert Wagner.  Which, it turns out, the picture was actually of because it was made into the movie of the same name.
Not being a huge reader of  psychological thriller type books, I was sceptical.  But the minute I'd read the first sentence I was hooked. 
"His plans had been running so beautifully, go goddamned beautifully, and now she was going to smash them all."
Hooked.  And all subsequent sentences were the same.  Technically, essentially brilliant.  No more no less than what was required to write the most gripping book I've recently... no, make that EVER read. 
Not only was this book a simple delight to read - edge of seat, exciting stuff - it was an education.  I felt like I had a 'Master Storyteller' in my hands.  No word was superfluous.  No situation unnecessary.  No character over-writtten.  Just perfect.  It's on my list of re-reads already.
Read it - you'll be very happy you did.


Luisa Plaja said...

Debs, thanks, you've reminded me how much I love Ira Levin's books! I can recommend the others too - they're all sparely written and gripping.

Debs Riccio said...

Hi Luisa, really? I 'm going to have to get a couple more - he wrote Sliver too, right? All brilliant films, so the books must be a treat. You're right - it's the 'sparely written' that does the trick, there's nothing you need or want to skip.