Codename Villenelle and No Tomorrow – Luke Jennings
Like pretty much everyone else in the world, I watched and loved Killing Eve, which was adapted from a series of short stories by Luke Jennings. I’m not sure if the decision to turn those stories into full length novels or the TV show came first, but both Book one, Codename Villenelle and the sequel No Tomorrow, were both released in 2018 and the lovely people over at netgalley sent me both of them, so here are my thoughts!
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.
That’s the blurb for book one. I can’t tell you the blurb for book two because SPOILERS for the first book!
For those that have no idea what either of these books are about, they are the story of a cat and mouse style chase between an MI5 operative called Eve and a kick ass female assassin known as Villanelle. We are introduced to Villanelle first, she is in the employ of an organisation known as the Twelve who exist outside of political and regional confines. So far, so normal spy novel. After she manages to do a couple of high profile killings she comes to the attention of Eve who is tasked with finding her and eliminating her. Of course, Villanelle knows all about Eve, what she looks like and where she is. Eve on the otherhand knows very little about Villanelle other than she is smart, blonde and very good at what she does. It is pretty addictive reading.
The first book details Villanelle’s shaping into a master assassin and some of her recent jobs, Eve is introduced towards the middle of the book and their paths finally cross in the second half. The second book sees the two of them becoming increasingly more obsessed with each other as Villanelle continues her murderous quest around Europe and Eve starts to uncover more about the Twelve and how deep the conspiracy goes. The second book is a lot more fast paced and has a lot more action in it than the first one, I got the impression that Luke Jennings was growing in confidence the more he fleshed out these characters and it is something that comes across in the second book in particular. The ending did leave me wanting A LOT more, is there going to be a book three? Man, I hope so!
Codename Villanelle and No Tomorrow are both quite short, easy reads, seperated into long chapters which details various hits and with long running threads going throughout. It is pretty entertaining and delving deeper into Villenelle’s psyche is fascinating, but this isn’t literary genius by any stretch. It’s fun, fast paced and features a pan/bi sociopath as a main character, so for a lot of people, it ticks a lot of boxes.
I’ll be honest… I did prefer the TV show, it is witty and some of the timeline changes make a lot more sense and I think others that have watched the show will be disappointed with the source material. , but these aren’t bad books, and reading about these two women, their backgrounds and motivations gives you much more depth than the show has time to allow.
Basically, these two books are great fun and there is something very charming about them. They’re not your average crime thriller or political assassin kind of stories and as the series progresses I can only see it getting better and much more popular. If you get the chance, read these and then watch the series for a more well-rounded experience!
Also, FYI, the cover of book two didn’t appear to be any where online when I wrote this… So, I’ll update when one is available!