“Codename Villanelle”

killing“Codename Villanelle” by Luke Jennings has been adapted into the hit TV series “Killing Eve.” Usually, I prefer the original novel to its TV or movie adaptation, but in this case, both have compelling advantages.

While the TV variation “Killing Eve” presents events primarily from Eve’s viewpoint, “Code name Villanelle” reflects events from Villanelle’s perspective. Oxana’s transformation into Villanelle, the highly skilled assassin, is detailed including her training and the choice of her cover name.

“Later that afternoon, they visited a boutique selling scent…Cautiously Oxana touched the amber scent to her wrist… ‘It’s called Villanelle’ said the assistant. ‘It was the favourite scent of the Comtesse du Barry. The perfume house added the red ribbon after she was guillotined in 1793’”

Readers gather clues about “The Twelve” right in the first chapter. “I sometimes wonder who they are, these employers of ours.”

Villanelle’s assigned victims are cast in a more evil light in the books, more deserving of death, but to her, the work is the same. “Work is always murder.” Some of characters have very different roles in the novel, and not all characters in the TV adaptation appear in the book. Eve makes her entrance just shy of halfway through the book, but her role is significant. “Eve knows nothing will ever be the same again.”

“Codename Villanelle” is a compelling companion to its TV adaptation “Killing Eve.”  In this rare case, both the book and the TV version are equal partners in the narrative that is Villanelle. The book is compelling in its narrative, and you will not want to put it down. “Killing Eve” is one of the truly “binge-worthy” TV adaptations. Do not miss either one.