REVIEW: Killing Eve: Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings (Killing Eve #1)

Series: Killing Eve

Book Number: 1

Read this book for: female assassin, female investigator, spy thriller, assassin thriller, contemporary and stylish, international locations, UK based

Quick Review: Not long, but a fantastically paced, stylish spy thriller.


She is the perfect assassin.

A Russian orphan, saved from the death penalty for the brutal revenge she took on her gangster father’s killers.

Ruthlessly trained. Given a new life. New names, new faces – whichever fits.

Her paymasters call themselves The Twelve. But she knows nothing of them. Konstantin is the man who saved her and the one she answers to.

She is Villanelle. Without conscience. Without guilt. Without weakness.

Eve Polastri is the woman who hunts her. MI5, until one error of judgment costs her everything.

Then stopping a ruthless assassin becomes more than her job. It becomes personal.

KILLING EVE: CODENAME VILLANELLE is the compilation of the first four Villanelle e-books (Codename Villanelle, Hollowpoint, Shanghai and Odessa) which form the basis of the inspiration for the Killing Eve television show (BBC America).

This is the first group of stories in this series, and each one builds on the next. I would highly recommend that you read this before continuing on to the next novel in the series. However, you do not need to read this in order to watch the show — the television show is very loosely based on the concept and story, so reading this is actually a totally different experience (although the show is must-watch television). If you have seen the show, you will only recognize some of the moments, characters and story points.

The plot is fantastic; weaving between Eve and Villanelle, bits and pieces of their backstories well mixed with slick action sequences and smart investigative moments. Jennings writes a thriller story well, with enough suspense to keep the story from getting stale and predictable, and details about Villanelle’s secret past scattered through her high-octane life.

And her life is unselfconsciously glamorous. Fashion shows, art galleries, globetrotting, sex — as much or more cool style as a contemporary James Bond, without the cheesy one-liners. The stylish element of this novel is perfectly done: dark, sleek and minimalist, perfectly conveying a world of wealth and power.

The characters also have depth. Eve’s homelife is endearingly quiet, her work relationships incredibly normal; all the personal relationships have an interesting dynamic. It’s an enhanced reality, but never wholly unbelievable. Jennings walks the line between reality and the unbelievable in a way that is extremely satisfying.

If you love a good spy thriller, KILLING EVE: CODENAME VILLANELLE is a great option, and a wonderful collected version of the stories.

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