Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Codename Villanelle (Killing Eve, #1)” as Want to Read:
Codename Villanelle (Killing Eve, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Codename Villanelle

(Killing Eve #1)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  13,269 ratings  ·  1,417 reviews
stylish, thrilling 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-- soon to be a BBC America series

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 i
Kindle Edition, 225 pages
Published July 31st 2018 by Mulholland Books (first published July 31st 2017)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Codename Villanelle, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Mark Serlin In my opinion this is one of the few books that is completely outclassed by the adaptation.
Charles Richmond Recommend Disappearing Earth

by Julia Phillips (Goodreads Author)

Beautifully written, thought-provoking, intense and cleverly wrought, this is the mo…more
Recommend Disappearing Earth

by Julia Phillips (Goodreads Author)

Beautifully written, thought-provoking, intense and cleverly wrought, this is the most extraordinary first novel from a mesmerizing new talent.

One August afternoon, on the shoreline of the north-eastern edge of Russia, two sisters are abducted. In the ensuing weeks, then months, the police investigation turns up nothing. Echoes of the disappearance reverberate across a tightly woven community, with the fear and loss felt most deeply among its women.

Set on the remote Siberian peninsula of Kamchatka, Disappearing Earth draws us into the world of an astonishing cast of characters, all connected by an unfathomable crime. We are transported to vistas of rugged beauty – densely wooded forests, open expanses of tundra, soaring volcanoes and the glassy seas that border Japan and Alaska – and into a region as complex as it is alluring, where social and ethnic tensions have long simmered, and where outsiders are often the first to be accused.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,269 ratings  ·  1,417 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Codename Villanelle (Killing Eve, #1)
Fred Klein
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
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
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
Ivana - Diary of Difference
Wishlist | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

#1 Codename Villanelle - ★★★
#2 No Tomorrow - To Be Read

Codename Villanelle is a book I listened to. I don’t often listen to audiobooks, but I wanted to read this book, and I didn’t own a physical copy.

The reason I wanted to read this book is because I heard there is a TV series coming, featuring Sandra Oh from Grey’s Anatomy. I loved Sandra as Christina, and I knew I was going to love her as Eve. The TV Series is a hit, and I love
Andrew Smith
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been aware of the television series for some time and it seems to have garnered many good reviews. Would it be another of those series that I just didn’t get around to, despite my best intentions. Probably. But then I spotted this tie-in novel – ideal, I’ll whip though this and if it floats my boat… well, I’ll know the story by then so it’ll most likely still be a series I never get to watch. But anyway, to the book.

(view spoiler)
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here I am, living up to the single sentence in my bio. I’ve been dying to watch Killing Eve, but once I knew there was a book series the show was based off of I haaaad to put it off until I read that first. It’s basically a compulsion at this point; I had no choice.

The first in the Killing Eve series is Codename: Villanelle, novella that explores how the two titular characters, Eve and Villanelle, found their way to their current occupations and eventually crossed paths. It’s the ultimate game
May 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am amazed that someone was able to create such an amazing show from this material. It's like taking a pile of horse manure and turning it into a diamond. The problems are
1) Jennings is a shit writer
2) the book is somehow boring?
3) he doesn't show, he tells. "Eve and Villanelle are sworn enemies" bitch where? "Eve and Niko are having marital problems" I mean if you say so?
4) I dont know why his third person present tense annoys me so much, but it does. It doesnt work with this book
5) his cha
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, lgbtq
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
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Bill Lynas
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Killing Eve was a fast paced, sexy, violent, stylish & amusing TV series & that pretty much sums up the book too.
While the series kept assassin Villanelle's real identity a secret for quite a while the book gives us her real name, background & details of her training as a killer very early on. To be honest, it works well either way.
Although originally published as four ebook singles the story is better as a complete novel. It may not have the depth of some spy fiction, but it's a great ride. I'm
Sep 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, spies
How I miss Killing Eve, such a wonderful TV series. I daydream about it sometimes to distract myself from my tedious job. It was only a matter of time before I gave the novels a try. I must say, ‘Codename Villanelle’ did not live up to my expectations. Structurally it’s very different - Villanelle and Eve don’t properly meet or exchange a word throughout. The book begins with Villanelle’s backstory, which is kept wonderfully ambiguous in the show. There is much less of a focus on Eve and a quite ...more
Alex Cantone
They had recognised her talent, sought her out, and taken her from the lowest place in the world to the highest, where she belonged. A predator, an instrument of evolution, one of that elite to whom no moral law applied. Inside her, this knowledge bloomed like a dark rose, filling every cavity of her being.

Not a TV watcher, but a while back I caught a few episodes of series 1 of “Killing Eve”, and was impressed by British actress, Jodie Cromer’s portrayal of Villanelle, effortlessly moving from
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
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
"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.

Fatima Sheriff
Apr 21, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Women written by women >>>> women written by men
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!
❄️ Antonella ❄️
This isn't really a bad book, but having watched and loved the tv series first, I couldn't help to compare the two and find this source materials incredibly boring and flat. Also, no Carolyn here and it's a real tragedy to me.

Forever grateful to Phoebe Waller-Bridge for creating such a brilliant, complex and thrilling show out of something so mediocre.

Don't mind the book and go watch Killing Eve.
Paul E. Morph
Comparisons to the t.v. show are, perhaps, inevitable, being the current critical and popular darling that it is, but I’m going to try to avoid them here.

Taking this as a thriller in its own right, I found this enjoyable but nothing particularly special. I enjoyed the writing style and there are some exciting action scenes, but there were a few too many completely gratuitous sex scenes for my tastes and to call the actions of the British Intelligence agents ‘not very realistic’ would be the unde
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
Laura Anne
Did I read this - not exactly - I watched both series I and II. Does that count? Anyway - it's brilliant, apart from the fact that Ms Waller Bridge spends most of Part II trying to make her Assassin likable - she disposes of some truly revolting "victims?". As the title irrevocably states, however - "Killing Eve", so - liking Villanelle is a moral and predictable - no go.

Allow me to interpose a question - Ms Oh had a choice - did she not? Go with the friendly Fiona Shaw - carefully hidden Irish
Rida Imran
May 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
This is not a bad book. It's just relatively bad compared to it's amazing adaptation.

But Villanelle's back story is exciting. She has learnt how to copy emotions to fit in.

I may not recommend the book but the show is lit with an incredible cast for characters!

2.5 stars!
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. ...more
Jun 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crimes-mystery
Not a bad read


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
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, spies, assassin
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
actual rating: 2.5

I almost never say this, but the show is just MILES better than the book in this case. I'm really impressed that they managed to make such a compelling and nuanced story out of this book, which reads in a very paint-by-numbers kind of way.

All of Villanelle's backstory that is slowly revealed throughout the show is just dumped on the reader at the very beginning of the novel. She inexplicably has a trophy wife BFF that she hangs out with in Paris all the time despite us constan
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series-books
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 Lo ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Suffolk bookclub: Codename Villanelle - Luke Jennings March 2019 8 13 Jul 25, 2019 11:55PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Kiss of Death: True Cases of Fatal Attraction
  • Winter Dawn
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer
  • Stay
  • Fleabag: Scriptures
  • The Price of Salt
  • The Legacy of the Iron Dragon: An Alternate History Viking Epic
  • The Case of the Listening Library (Katy Kramer, #3)
  • The Thursday Murder Club (Thursday Murder Club, #1)
  • The Queen's Gambit
  • The Other You
  • Error in Judgment
  • Last Christmas
  • Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas
  • The Burglar in Short Order
  • Pătimirile şi măreţia lui Richard Wagner
  • The Switch
See similar books…
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

Killing Eve (3 books)
  • No Tomorrow (Killing Eve, #2)
  • Endgame (Killing Eve #3)

Related Articles

  Die-hard mystery fans are always on the hunt for their next supremely satisfying whodunit. To help you stock that Want to Read shelf, we asked...
46 likes · 21 comments
“Without predators, people who can think the unthinkable, and act without fear or hesitation, the world stands still. You are an evolutionary necessity.” 3 likes
“I really really don't want to die here, among these criminally ugly furnishings.” 1 likes
More quotes…