Codename Villanelle by Luke JenningsCodename Villanelle by Luke Jennings
Series: Killing Eve #1
Published by Mulholland Books on April 3, 2018
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
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The basis of BBC America's April 2018 release "Killing Eve," starring Sandra Oh--A stylish game of spy vs. spy played by Villanelle, a peerless international assassin, and Eve, the fiercely intelligent MI6 analyst whose mission is to take her out.

Villanelle (a codename, of course) is one of the world's most skilled assassins. A catlike psychopath whose love for the creature comforts of her luxurious lifestyle is second only to her love of the game, she specializes in murdering the world's richest and most powerful. But when she murders an influential Russian politician, she draws a relentless foe to her tail. Eve Polastri (not a codename) is a former MI6 operative hired by the national security services for a singular task: to find and capture or kill the assassin responsible, and those who have aided her. Eve, whose quiet and otherwise unextraordinary life belies her quick wit and keen intellect, accepts the mission. The ensuing chase will lead them on a trail around the world, intersecting with corrupt governments and powerful criminal organizations, all leading towards a final confrontation from which neither will emerge unscathed. Codename Villanelle is a sleek, fast-paced international thriller from an exciting new voice in fiction.

Codename Villanelle stars two women, a top-level assassin and the former MI6 operative whose job it is to find and eliminate her. Both women are strong and well-drawn. Villanelle is a psychopath, but one who knows she’s different and uses the knowledge as a strength. Eve is a tough, but has more connections. she has a husband and subordinates; her choices effect not only her life, but theirs too.

This is an action story, full of violence and sex, but happily it never quite tips over into graphic or gratuitous. It’s a quick read and I enjoyed it, right up until the end. I guess this a collection of 4 novellas. It felt seamless to me, but then it ended with more or less “to be continued,” which always just annoys me. If your series is good enough, I will continue to read it without a middle school book trick. Give me a semi-conclusion and leave it there. I’ll know the overarching plotline is still continuing, I don’t need it spelled out.

I do think I’m going to try watching Killing Eve this week. I think it’s one my husband might enjoy too.

About Luke Jennings

Luke Jennings is an author and the dance critic of The Observer. He trained at the Rambert School and was a dancer for ten years before turning to writing.

As a journalist he has written for Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and Time, as well as for numerous British titles. He is the author of Blood Knots, a memoir, short-listed for the 2010 Samuel Johnson and William Hill prizes, and of three novels: Breach Candy, Beauty Story, and the Booker Prize-nominated Atlantic. With Deborah Bull, he wrote The Faber Guide to Ballet, and with his daughter Laura, the Stars fiction series for Puffin Books, about teenagers at a stage-school.

He is currently writing a follow-up to his 2017 thriller Codename Villanelle. The Villanelle titles are the basis for BBC America’s upcoming TV seriesĀ Killing Eve, airing in 2018 and starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer.


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