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on 8 October 2017
This book lacks a coherence, due in part to the origins of the four chapters that were released previously as individual novella.
The start of the book works well but although there is a chronological progression the second half of the book fails to take the story forward.
Villanelle is a product of broken childhood in Russia, often placed in care as her lone parent, her father led a violent life.
When he is killed by a crime syndicate his daughter taking on board all the weapon skills he taught and imbued her with strikes to revenge his murder.
She is found languishing in the prison system and like hollywood's Nikita is turned into a killing machine. Trained in every aspect of the assassin's art she becomes a go to contract killer.
I liked her ingenuity, her coldness and disconnect. She is a controlled sociopath and for the moment her handler is Konstantin who recruited her. He works for a mysterious group of 12 who meet regularly and vote to confirm their decision to put out a contract. Their status isn't clear but they seem to represent a group interest of western business values.
That they seem to arrange the murder of extreme criminal warlords or political extremists you would think that no-one would lament their passing.
However when a MI5 operative, Eve, responsible for high end celebrity's security, loses a Russian politition on her watch she learns to hate the mysterious assassin. That Eve is to be Villanelle's nemesis is a little difficult to factor into this story but their final showdown lies ahead of us.
A fast paced thriller with an engaging protagonist that is a good read to escape into for a few hours.
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on 12 April 2014
This short story gives a good introduction to a character that could feature in further adventures? Maybe to short of a story?

A meeting of a secret society of men who have held prominent positions in governments and finance from various nations have met and decided that a mafia godfather must be eliminated. The reason being he is getting to close to the areas this dirty dozen now operate.

Oxana Vorontsova originally from Russia with a colourful history now lives in Paris. Given a way out of her situation she has come gone under a tough regime to become the ultimate fighting machine.

Now with the name of Villanelle Faure. She is given assignments when required
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on 2 October 2017
First book about Villanelle, though I'm sure it won't be the last. The anti hero heroine, seems to be the flavour current in action quasi espionage genre of books. A good read if a bit repetitive in parts, how many novel ways can be found to kill people in 217 pages. Enjoyable nonetheless and I look forward to more of Villanelle in subsequent books.
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on 15 October 2017
Another book without an ending hoping you will buy the sequel I won't but enjoyed the first episode.
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on 9 September 2014
Excellent short read!
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on 2 July 2014
very short
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on 16 February 2014
Wow! What an entertaining read! A lethal, multilingual, sexual omnivore, trained and deployed as an assassin by the people who really run the world, the deliberately anonymous, resource-owning, superrich 0.0001% of the 1%, is sent to kill a Mafia boss. Villanelle, like the antihero of Frederick Forsyth's Day of the Jackal, has no redeeming humanity and, like the Day of the Jackal, Codename Villanelle makes you root for the antihero. Or maybe that's just me. In any case, I can't wait for Villanelle's next assignment.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 August 2017
Ths is a collection of 4 kindle single stories about Oxana Vorontsova, a young woman who kills the men responsible for the death of her father. This lands her in prison, where she is approached with a deal. Oxana becomes erased with the cover story that she dies, and she acquires a whole new persona, Villanelle, and trained to become an extraordinary assassin in strong echoes of Nikita. Konstantin is the representative of the 12 powerful men who sanction Villanelle's hits. The stories are interconnected with recurring characters. The first story gives the backstory of Oxana and her conversion to Villanelle. We learn of her personality, she is a sociopath with an inability to access human emotions such as empathy or compassion. She is, however, superb at learning to simulate emotions for power, sex and for exposing the vulnerabilities of her targets.

Villanelle's first hit takes her to Palermo and a much feared Mafia boss with a host of enemies. We come to see just how talented and cold a killer she really is, although she does go off the page when it came to her instructions. There is a detailed breakdown of her abilities, her observational skills, reactive speeds and sensory powers are phenomenal. Her second hit brings her to London, where an elaborate plan is devised that targets a charismatic Russian fascist leading a growing movement. We encounter Eve Polastri, and her deputy, Simon Mortimer, working for MI5. Initially Eve rejects the need for protection of the Russian but changes her mind. Entering Eve's radar is the awareness of a highly able female assassin operating globally. Eve ends up working on a solitary aim of identifying this assassin in a covert operation at MI6. The third hit is in Shanghai, the leader of the White Dragons, FatPanda and the fourth has Villanelle in Odessa as events turn in an unexpected direction.

These stories give us remarkable insights into the killing machine that is Villanelle, her warped sense of the romantic, her inner drive and need to kill that gives her a high that nothing else matches. She has a need to manipulate, and dominate her sexual encounters, which include men and women, although once she achieved her conquest she loses interest. Luke Jennings expertly documents her character development and Eve's, as she becomes obsessed with hunting down Villanelle after traumatic events take place. The author does a tremendous job of making Villanelle monstrous but never less than compelling. A great collection of stories. Many thanks to John Murray Press for an ARC.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 October 2017
Oxana Vorontsova has had a tough upbringing and then her father is murdered. She avenges him and then apparently commits suicide in prison only to be reborn as Villanelle. Villanelle has been taken in hand by Konstantin who puts her through several gruelling regimes to toughen her up and to turn her into a cold, dispassionate killer for hire – the ideal assassin. Eva Polastri is a section leader at MI5. Her path crosses that of Villanelle when a high-profile Russian is murdered in London and Eva suffers the consequences.

The idea behind the thriller isn’t new as “Nikita” follows a similar storyline. However, having read both books this beats the original in every single respect. It is superb. I consumed it in a 24-hour period and for once was delighted with the final pages when invariably this type of ending leaves me disappointed and frustrated.

The writing is intelligent. The building of the personalities is excellent. Luke Jennings is a master of the use of language and in just a few words he can paint a vivid picture where many others fail miserably. The counterpoint between the two female characters is very well done and led me to care about both for very different reasons. I knew I would feel the loss of either.

A follow-up book is being written and I shall be first in line. During further research, it was no surprise to read that the book is to be turned into a TV series in 2018 by BBC America. I do hope it is aired in the UK and I pray that they do it justice.

mr zorg

Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review
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#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 4 August 2017
This is a very enjoyable load of old hokum. It could be utterly dreadful – a ruthless, beautiful highly trained female assassin (the eponymous Villanelle) working for a shadowy group of ultra-rich people protecting their own interests isn't exactly a fresh-sounding set-up - but it's well done and actually very entertaining.

I've largely summarized the plot in the last sentence, but we also meet a British intelligence operative whose mission it is to catch and kill Villanelle. She is a rather engaging character: brilliant and determined but unglamorous and ordinary in her personal life, she makes a good foil to Villanelle's character, and I like that the two chief protagonists are both women. Luke Jennings writes well, presents a good, detailed background and creates pretty believable scenes and characters - within the overall implausibility of the whole thing, of course. He structures the plot well and I found it an exciting and easy read.

I did think that a couple of the sex scenes were gratuitously explicit – especially one in which a potential target for Villanelle visits a brothel and indulges in some, shall we say, very niche practices which were described in needlessly graphically detail. Also, this is the set up for at least one more book; there is no real resolution at the end and I'm not sure that the idea will carry a series. Nonetheless, I did enjoy Codename Villanelle and I will look out for the sequel. Recommended.

(I received an ARC via NetGalley.)
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