A Kiss Before Dying is a 1953 novel written by Ira Levin. It won the 1954 Edgar Award, for Best First Novel.

Burton “Bud” Corliss is a young man with a ruthless drive to rise above his working-class origins to a life of wealth and importance. He serves in the Pacific in World War II, and upon his honorable discharge in 1947 he learns that his father was killed in an automobile accident while he was overseas.

The most pivotal moment in his life occurs during the war, when he first wounds, then kills, a Japanese sniper, who is so terrified that he wets his pants and begs for mercy. Corliss is elated by the total power he holds over the soldier; at the same time, he is disgusted by the man's display of abject terror.

Upon returning to the U.S., he enrolls in college and meets Dorothy Kingship, the daughter of a wealthy copper tycoon. Seeing an opportunity to attain the riches he has always craved, he becomes Dorothy's lover. When she tells him she is pregnant, however, he panics; he is sure that her stern, conservative father will disinherit her. Resolving to get rid of Dorothy, he tricks her into writing a letter that, to an unknowing observer, would look like a suicide note, and then throws her from the roof of a tall building. He runs no risk of getting caught, having urged Dorothy to keep their relationship a secret from her family and friends. He continues to live with his mother, who dotes on him and has no clue as to what he has done.