Thrilling tales of espionage and international intrigue fill the pages with the Codename Villanelle books.
Written by critically acclaimed author Luke Jennings, the four books in the series have gone on to inspire the BBC TV sensation that is Killing Eve.
You think you’ve read spy dramas before, but you’ve never experienced any like those of Codename Villanelle.
The series follows the story of two women – Eve Polastri, a British intelligence officer, and Villanelle, a psychopathic assassin who becomes the object of Eve’s obsession.
Jennings’ first book in the series was published in 2014 with his latest in 2016. In 2018, Jennings compiled the four stories into one book.
After the success of the Killing Eve TV series, Jennings went on to release a sequel in March 2019 called Killing Eve: No Tomorrow, and his final book in the Killing Eve series named Killing Eve: Die for Me, published in June 2020.
If you’re a fan of the Killing Eve TV show or simply love dramatic espionage novels with twists and turns galore, then you will love the Codename Villanelle book series.
Today, we are going to find out the order of these acclaimed books so you can get dug in and go on a journey like never before.
About Codename Villanelle
The Codename Villanelle book series is renowned for its complex and compelling characters as well as its thrilling and suspenseful plots.
Written by Luke Jennings, the stories follow two main characters, Eve Polastri, and Villanelle.
The two become embroiled in a dangerous, thrilling game of cat and mouse throughout Europe.
Eve Polastri is a British Intelligence Officer who becomes fixated on tracking down Villanelle, a psychopathic assassin who is carrying out a series of high-profile assassinations across the continent.
The two women’s lives become more entangled with one another, leading to a twisted fascination with each other that borders on obsession.
I, like many readers, adore the thrilling plot and sharp writing of Jennings.
Themes of power, control, and the blurred lines of good and evil are explored in each of the four books and they take us into the psyche of both Eve and Villanelle.
Other characters also play important roles in the stories and we, as the readers, also dive into their personal lives and psyches giving us a gripping portrayal of the shadowy world of international espionage and assassination.
As I mentioned above, the Codename Villanelle book series has been adapted into the popular BBC television series Killing Eve, which has been praised for its strong performances, witty dialogue, and stylish direction.
The series has become a cultural phenomenon and has garnered a dedicated fan base around the world.
But, as avid readers, we all know that the books are always best, right? Well, let’s take a look at each book so you can start reading them and find out for yourself.
Codename Villanelle Books In Order
The first of Luke Jennings’ four serial ebook novellas published from 2014 to 2016, Codename Villanelle was again published as a novel in June 2017, with hardcover and paperback versions following later in the year.
This thriller novel is the basis of the television series Killing Eve which ran from 2018 to 2022.
It follows Villanelle, a Russian orphan who has murdered the millers of her father, a prominent gangster.
Whilst in prison, she is rescued and trained as a hitwoman by The Twelve, a mysterious, shadowy organization.
Soon, the “heartless female assassin” is up against a “dogged MI5 Agent,” Eve Polastri.
The two women battle it out, albeit from a distance, as Polastri searches for clues at various sites of high-profile assassinations.
- Fast-paced action makes for an exciting and engaging read
- A fascinating exploration of gender and power dynamics
- Introduces the reader to Jennings’ sharp and witty writing with memorable one-liners and observations
- A lack of backstories as the novel seems to jump right into the action without much context of the world of espionage
First published in August 2014, Villanelle: Hollowpoint is the second installment in the Kindle Villanelle conspiracy thriller series.
As razor-sharp as its predecessor, this novel reintroduces us to Villanelle.
As in the first of the series, she is beautiful yet predatory.
She continues to be a lethal instrument for The Twelve as she is tasked with manipulating world events from behind the scenes.
In this second novella, Villanelle has a new target, a Firebrand Russian leader with extreme political theories.
It is these theories that may jeopardize world politics and cause worldwide conflict. Again, however, Eve Polastri is on the hunt for Villanelle.
Fierce and intelligent herself, Eve intends to find Villanelle, wherever her search may take her.
Along the way, Villanelle confronts a dangerous adversary and grapples with her own sense of identity and purpose.
An intriguing, gripping read once again from Luke Jennings.
- Exciting plot with lots of action and suspense
- Get to explore Villanelle’s character in more detail, including her backstory and motivations
- A very quick read making it a good choice for those with limited time
- Quite a predictable plot in parts with some expected twists and turns
The third book in the Codename Villanelle novella series, Villanelle: Shanghai tracks the Russian assassin through the streets of Shanghai as she is tasked with eliminating the leader of an elite team of Chinese hackers.
This team is stealing data from the West and Villanelle’s job is to stop them through any means necessary.
Again, Villanelle is portrayed as the ultimate assassin but a psychopath at the same time.
The stage is once again set for Eve Postrami to try to track down Villanelle through various clues, even if she has to pay personal costs.
With intrigue and bloody violence strewn across the pages, Jennings has created an insight into the bruised, monsoon skies of Asia’s most decadent city.
- Darker and more mysterious than Jennings’ first two books
- Detailed depiction of Shanghai and aspects of Asian culture
- Unexpected twists and turns throughout keep the reader on edge
- Very short which may leave you wanting more as the reader
The fourth Villanelle thriller by Luke Jennings, Odessa is a fast and very entertaining journey-length read.
This final book in the Villanelle series takes place in the Ukrainian city of Odessa where Villanelle is preparing to infiltrate a heavily fortified mansion.
Why? To rescue her mentor, Konsatanin, who is being held hostage.
It wouldn’t be a Villanelle novel without Eve Polastri trying to keep up and capture the Russian soy, though.
In this volume, Eve has a breakthrough with her pursuit of Villanelle and the underground network she works for and with.
Again, it’s a battle of the two strong character’s wits as the canny Villanelle is up against the ferocious and determined Eve.
Everything about this novella is fierce and, although short, it is packed with action to keep you on tenterhooks throughout.
- The storyline is a little different and refreshing compared to the previous three books which may be a welcome change for some readers
- Action-packed from one page to the next to keep you engrossed
- Entertaining and clever with some darkly comic moments
- The ending promises more leaving the reader with more questions than answers
Originally a four-part e-book series, the Codename Villanelle novellas may be short stories but there is enough action to keep you captivated on most pages.
When there isn’t action, there are mind games and espionage to keep you guessing about what will happen next.
If you like this series, make sure you check out Luke Jennings’ follow-up novels, Killing Eve: No Tomorrow and Killing Eve: Die for Me.
And, while you’re at it, you may as well sit down and watch the critically acclaimed TV series too. If you love the books, you’ll love the TV adaptation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Villanelle Have Another Name?
As the title Codename Villanelle suggests, Villanelle is a code name.
The character’s true name is actually Oxana Vorontsova or Oksana Astankova and was born to parents Tatiana and Anatoly in Russia.
She also has a sibling named Pytor and through the books, we find that both were emotionally abused by their mother growing up.
Who Are The Twelve In Villanelle?
Also known as Dozen Incorporated, The Twelve is a secret crime organization that uses assassins, like Villanelle, to commit murders.
However, Villanelle is first unaware that she is any part of this organization.
How Close Is The Killing Eve TV Show To The Codename Villanelle Books?
Both the TV show and the book series focus on the intense relationship between Eve Polastri and Villanelle as Eve is adamant on capturing the female assassin.
However, there are some fundamental differences between the two. For instance, the TV show depicts the relationship between Villanelle and Anna, her linguistics teacher, as romantic.
But, in the books, there is no inclination of any romance between the two.
Overall, the TV adaptation includes many of the details from Jennings’ writing, but the ending and much of the narrative differ from the original novellas.
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