Book Review: Killing Eve: Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings

Killing Eve: Codename Villanelle
by Luke Jennings

Publication date: September 11th 2018
Publisher: Mulholland Books (first published June 2017)
Pages: 224


The breakneck thriller that inspired TV sensation Killing Eve, starring Sandra Oh.

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.

Source: Goodreads


I borrowed this from a friend (thanks @catherinemarshall8!) after enjoying the BBC TV series “Killing Eve”. This short novel isn’t identical to the show but has provided a solid basis for the story while allowing the creator to use their imagination when putting this on to the screen.

Villanelle (formally Oxana Vorontsova) is a female assassin, an alpha character with a fantastic flair for language and disguise. She doesn’t know who she works for and she doesn’t really care either. Eve Polastri is secretly employed by the secret services in London to try and track Villanelle down, something that truly piques the assassin’s curiosity.

These 200 pages took me quite a while to get through, and I wonder if in part this was down to the fact that there were only 4 chapters in the whole book. The writing is good, with dialogue to keep up the pace where the chapters couldn’t, but I couldn’t help but get lost in some of detail (I don’t care much for the technical names of weapons, for example). I can’t exactly pin point why, but I wasn’t really into this book as much as I would have liked to have been. 

Overall rating: As inspiration for BBC show “Killing Eve”, this story features some strong female characters, but for me it didn’t have much more going for it. I didn’t find it particularly gripping or engaging and I don’t think I’ll be picking up the sequel. Dare I say it, the TV show was better in my eyes!

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Killing Eve: Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings

  1. Great review 🙂 I haven’t seen the TV series, but it sounds intriguing 🙂 I’ll have to go check it out. It’s often the way that the book or the show don’t live up to expectations when there’s an adaptation, I suppose!

    Liked by 1 person

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