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Codename Villanelle

(Killing Eve #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  3,313 ratings  ·  422 reviews
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.
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Mulholland Books (first published June 2017)
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Mark Serlin In my opinion this is one of the few books that is completely outclassed by the adaptation.
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3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,313 ratings  ·  422 reviews

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If you loved Killing Eve, chances are good you'll enjoy this. I loved it. Fast-paced, compelling plot progress. Villanelle is fascinating, efficient and quick on her feet. Enough details, but not too much. Far fewer characters than the TV series. It's entirely fresh and unlike anything else I've read, all in a good way. The writers of the series, however, made some key plot and personnel changes for their adaptation, so you need to accept that the novel isn't a blueprint of the show if you inten ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have to give credit to the producers of the series "Killing Eve" that they found in this mediocre novel the basis for a better than average tv show.

This novel -- the introduction to a book series that is coming or has already happened? -- is really nothing special. It's the story of two women, one a psychopathic contract killer, the other a British agent, who are pitted against each other. I saw some influence of Ian Fleming, especially in the descriptions of clothing, and some influence of "T
Lo O'Neill
Not going to lie the reason that I wanted to read this book was because I watched the BBC adaption Killing Eve and I completely loved that. However, this did bring up the worry for me that the book wouldn’t be as good and that it was actually the cast of actors that I loved more (because they were amazing and so much fun to watch!).

Luckily, watching the show has not detracted from the novel at all, which is an achievement considering the deviations from the book that TV show took. The character
Ian "Marvin" Graye
The Girl with the Drag and Drop Tattoo

This book raises many questions, some of which are more easily answered than others.

The big question is: can Luke Jennings keep both Villanelle and Eve alive long enough to milk the excellent TV series?

Fortunately, sequels to both book and TV series are in the pipeline (as at the time of writing this review).

Comparisons and Queries

Now for some comparisons:

The four stories have the political thriller overtones of a John le Carre novel. They're set in a world
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read_2018, thriller
A conglomerate of the wealthy controlling worldwide drug trafficking, politics, and banking interests known as The Twelve is threatened when a European underworld faction muscles in on their trade. In response, they dispatch a lethal killer known only by her handle; Villanelle, to take care of the problem. Unbeknownst to The Twelve, Villanelle's bloody footprint will be closely followed by an industrious MI5 agent, Eve, commencing a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Codename Villanelle is a fast, act
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Firstly, I read this entirely because I’m enjoying the TV Series , which is very good. Despite the differences the book adds details that make the TV Series richer. Secondly, unlike the TV Series, the book is more of a guys read. In some ways it reminds me of Atomic Blonde: The Coldest City. Finally, the book ends in a cliffhanger, which causes me some consternation.

This is a very short book at about 220 pages. Its internally separated into four (4) long chapters or sections. Each of the chapter
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Probably closer to 3.5 stars but still hugely enjoyable for me.
I love a good thriller and this ticked every box. I also love the fact are two main protagonists are females - that seems to rare in thrillers I come across.
Villanelle is a wonderfully complex villain - her backstory and her innermost thoughts really do explore the dark side of the human psyche.
Eve, are supposed hunter; she seems capable of anything. The reader will have to continue the series to see how far she can be pushed.
It’s th
Miriam Smith
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
"Codename Villanelle" written by Luke Jennings is a very entertaining and enjoyable book, I did struggle a little with the foreign names and places but once you familiarise yourself with them the story flows easily and has a fantastic and ingenious plot to it.
An excellently written international thriller with a kick ass female assassin, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to all readers who like intelligent and fast paced thrillers, just be aware of some adult themes that run throughout the story.

murphy ✌ (daydreamofalife)
"So how was London?" he enquires. "I was there in November. Were you very busy?"
"Yes, work's always murder..."
3 / 5

Short review because I'm in a bit of a review-writing funk, so yeah.

Read this in preparation for watching the BBC adaptation of the series, which I'm very excited for (I mean, with both Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh as leads, I refuse to believe it will be anything less than amazing). Anywho, the plot for these four stories was more La Femme Nikita than Spy vs Spy as the description i
The basis for the fantastic new TV show Killing Eve. All it has done is reinforce my infatuation with Phoebe Waller-Bridge as an incredibly talented writer (although I find it impossible to disentangle my crush on her Fleabag character from this infatuation) as Luke Jennings really is not much of a fiction writer at all it seems. His prose is clunky and over written, something I find even more disconcerting considering this book is a collection of short stories originally published online - why ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, assassin, spies
I have enjoyed the BBC tv series "Killing Eve"a lot, it is a show about an assassin so what is not to like. To top it of it is a show about a female assassin and her huntress a female MI5 security officer who has been chasing this unknown assassin and she figured it could be a new female face on the map.
Villanelle the assassin is absolutely the opposite of the #metoo movement, she is the alpha character that is the center of the story. Her opponent Eva Polastri is the career woman with a marria
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a punitive rating for the cliffhanger ending. An annoying practice which should be stamped out. Half a book only deserves half a rating!
aPriL does feral sometimes
‘Codename: Villanelle’ is the thriller novel a new BBC show, Killing Eve, is based on. Below is a link to a promo trailer:

Unfortunately for us fans of the TV show and interested readers in the book series, at the time I am writing this review, book two is coming next year (2019) which hopefully will resolve the cliffhangers. In my opinion, the TV show is better than the book, but Villanelle’s backstory is told in its entirety in the novel.

The novel is a typical thril
kat (paperfaeries)
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was tempted to rate this one star, but I think my love for the show might have persuaded me to raise it.

Making characters that are women into stone-cold and badass killers does not make them interesting. Though the book goes into Villanelle’s backstory and history, unlike the show, Villanelle’s character was horribly boring and lacked complexity. Though she is a main character, she was written as if she served more as a plot purpose. In general, it felt like the author was just another man tha
Codename Villanelle follows the titular Villanelle, Russian orphan turned assassin. Born Oxana Vorontsova, she drew attention to herself after murdering three men who had previously killed her father and wound up being arrested for it, where a mysterious man saved her from prison and whisks her away to become an assassin. Naming herself after a bottle of perfume, the girl becomes Villanelle and fits instantly into a life of killing targets. But when Villanelle kills a Russian demagogue in Lond ...more
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
deciding on a rating for this one was hard, since i read it after having finished the television show so i couldn't help but compare the two. the book alone is a solid read and easily worth three stars, but coming into it already knowing and caring about the main characters definitely felt like it increased my enjoyment of the novel a fair amount.

so also a warning that this review is probably going to mention the television show quite a bit since i can't really separate the two in my mind.

TW: transphobia, questionable bi rep.

I decided to read this book because last year the tv show Killing Eve came out inspired by it, and because it was shelved as lgbt.

The book actually containes 4 short stories connected to each other, the first two being the best.
At first it was very enjoyable, Villanelle is a glamorous serial killer and a psychopath, and Eve appears on the second story, having a very different life from Villanelle.

But the third story was awful, Eve and Villanelle suddenly see
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
“The truth, Oxana Borisovna, is that the world has a problem with people like you. Men or women who are born, as you were, without a conscience, or the ability to feel guilt. You represent a tiny fraction of the population at large, but without you…”
He lit another cigarette, and sat back in his chair. “Without predators, people who can think the unthinkable, and act without fear or hesitation, the world stands still. You are an evolutionary necessity.”

those flashbacks of villanelle's previous li
Jun 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm impressed they made such a great TV show out of a thoroughly average book. It's an easy read, but not very compelling and a not very satisfying end (it is very clear leading into a bigger series but I like my books in a series to have more individual closure). My expectations were certainly high from the TV show and I know that is definitely giving me a lower impression of this book, but that emotional intensity that drew me into the show, is not here in the book and I found it very lacking ...more
Rachel Hall
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it

Ridiculously entertaining escapism up to a point.. Heavy of detail with no real resolution.

Not having viewed the BBC series, Killing Eve, or particularly drawn to the premise of a spy thriller featuring a beautiful female assassin without conscience, I was surprised by just how entertaining I found Codename Villanelle. With the series now in the public conscience, the premise is well-known and not entirely original, owing much to Nikita (the Luc Besson thriller). Simply put, this is the story
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Definitely a great short story. I want more!
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
2.5 stars | The show is so much better. That's all I have to say. I gave it 2 stars because Villanelle's parts were fascinating. She is one of my absolute favourite characters.
♥ Jx PinkLady Reviews ♥
Book club read *
A few thoughts to come
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Villanelle is not just a codename, is the essence of Oxana, a deathly killer with no remorse or feelings.
Villanelle is part of a mysterious group that rules the world in the dark and uses Villanelle as their perfect weapon, she kills without questions asked and no one knows her... until Eve Polastri, a MI5 agent, that starts to investigate the mysterious killer.
This book is just the first scene between these two women, they are playing cat-and-mouse game, and let me say that I can not wait to re
I am obsessed with BBC America's new show, Killing Eve. When I saw it was a book, I immediately asked for it at my local library. Apparently, Luke Jennings' Codename Villanelle is actually four novellas in one book. It explains the long but small chapter count. Each chapter was the start of a novella.

Codename Villanelle is about the titular character who is a ruthless, efficient, and sociopathic assassin. Eve Polastri, formerly of MI:5, is recruited by the British Secret Service, to hunt Villan
Katy Noyes
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The TV show made me want to explore the source material. Great additional background on Villanelle.

4.5 stars.

I've found the TV series a breath of fresh air, a smart, capable female investigator and the strong, capable female assassin she is hunting. The book gives us a lot more background detail.

Villanelle is a highly trained sociopathic assassin, given assignments around the world that she takes pleasure in carrying out. Eve becomes part of the team hunting her down, scraping clues as to her id
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Una lettura scorrevole e vagamente morbosa che (proprio come temevo) non si è rivelata assolutamente all'altezza dell'omonima serie tv rivelazione dello scorso anno. Gli ingredienti alla base della ricetta sono pressapoco gli stessi: una killer psicopatica, una goffa agente dei servizi segreti, una misteriosa organizzazione internazionale... Ma senza il genio eccentrico di Phoebe Waller-Bridge a legare e a dare un significato profondo al tutto, per me purtroppo questo libro si è rivelato solo l' ...more
Andy Angel
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Slight differences to the tv show but the two (book and tv) compliment each other well. The book ends with '"No" she says "it's just beginning"', and i think that's a fair comment - this one could run and run.

A short but enjoyable read
Lady Delacour
Having watched the TV show
wanted to listen to the book
that the show was based upon.
(and I did) A lot of the story
felt like a Suspense Romance.
Skipped over embarrassing parts
same as I did with the TV show.
Listened with TTS.
Crude and Foul language.
Jill Mackin
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Three and a half stars. A true page turner, it is a quick read. Cunning assassin Villanelle goes up against Eve, an agent of the SIS.
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Suffolk bookclub: Codename Villanelle - Luke Jennings March 2019 3 5 Jan 11, 2019 02:29AM  
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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: Br

Other books in the series

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“Without predators, people who can think the unthinkable, and act without fear or hesitation, the world stands still. You are an evolutionary necessity.” 1 likes
More quotes…