Codename Villanelle

Three years ago, Oxana Vorontsova ceased to exist. That's when the young Russian woman with that name was plucked from prison and turned into one of the world's most notorious assassins, code name Villanelle. She already had the requisite experience--she'd killed three men to avenge the murder of her father, a battle instructor who had trained her well. It helps that she's unable to feel human emotions, like guilt and repulsion and love, but can fake them well. She's not only drop-dead gorgeous but whip-smart, too.

On her tail is another brainy woman. Former MI-5 officer Eve Polastri is recruited by the Secret Intelligence Service to head up an effort to track down and capture Villanelle. As the hunt intensifies, Eve becomes obsessed with her prey, putting strain on her marriage and her husband's desire for them to have a baby. The closer Eve gets to Villanelle, the more she risks losing everything she cares about.

Because of Villanelle's lack of human feelings and author Luke Jennings's use of omniscient voice, readers may feel a sense of detachment from the action at first. But once Eve is introduced about 50 pages in, the story leans into its cat-and-mouse dynamic, pitting two formidable women against each other. Fans of international spy thrillers might want to join the chase before watching the BBC adaptation, titled Killing Eve and starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Powered by: Xtenit