Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings

Having just this week discovered the wonderful writer Luke Jennings, I have also discovered something called a Kindle single.

Mr. Jennings has published 2 Kindle Singles, and I read “Codename Villanelle” in one Sunday afternoon sitting, and am now hooked, on both the format and what I hope is going to be a nice long series of Villanelle books.

(Just downloaded Book 2 in the series, so that’s promising.)

Right, for any of you who might not know what a Kindle single is, here you go, courtesy of good old Wikipedia :

“A Kindle single is a type of e-book which is published through Amazon.com. It is specifically intended as a format for novella-length nonfiction literature or long-form journalism. The name “single” comes from musical singles which are shorter in length and contain fewer tracks than EP albums.”

And now for the story, which is a fast paced crime novel(-ella) featuring an attractive, clever young woman, who just happens to be a highly-trained assassin.

Born in Russia, Oxana Voronstsova is a girl with a tragic family life and a distinctly flawed personality (though how much of the latter is due to her childhood, who knows…).  Vicious remand homes, and a life in prison for murder await her, until she is plucked from all this horror by a shadowy organisation, trained in every combat skill possible, and then sent on missions to eliminate whoever she is ordered to kill.

Oxana/Villanelle doesn’t waste any time in metaphysical arguments about the rights and wrongs of killing.  She has been rescued from the awful life that awaited her.  She is paid to do a job.  She does it.  And disappears.

A mistress of languages and disguise, a brilliant shot, this young woman with a voracious (though short-term) sexual appetite, looks set to become a fabulous new character for us all to love.

In “Codename Villanelle” her target is a ruthless and cruel Mafia boss in Sicily, and I won’t spoil the details of the plot, but suffice it to say it’s totally gripping and the end is…no.  Not going to spoil it…

As with “Beauty Story” the quality of the writing is excellent (as opposed to the equally excellent story line).

And now, let me get started straight away on Book 2.

Highly recommended.

Download this book on your Kindle right now and enjoy. Help is below, so you can order the e-book and, if you don’t already have one, a Kindle.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling

Had I heard of the book and/or Robert Galbraith before the latter was unmasked as J.K.Rowling?

No.

Did I read “The Cuckoo’s Calling” because of the above ?

Yes.

Is it a good read, regardless of who wrote it?

Yes, yes and yes.

As a non Harry Potter fan (I read the first tome years ago out of a sense of duty, and that was it.  Just couldn’t hack the others) I didn’t approach “The Cuckoo’s Calling”  – as some people seem to have done – out to find as many clues as possible that, yes, well, obviously, now you mention it, of course it must have been written by J.K.Rowling.

I read it as a stand alone novel that caught my fancy (because of the author thing, obviously) and it is a great, wonderful read.

I think (and hope and pray) that we might just have here the emergence of a fab new detective (and his indomitable sidekick) in the form of Cormoran Strike and the wonderful, so young but oh-so-wise Robin Ellacott.  In other words, Ms Rowling, please, please write a new adventure, and soon.

Mr. Strike is, on the face of it, an unlikely hero.  Overweight, one-legged, down on his luck. He drinks too much, smokes too much, wears crumpled clothes and is in a toxic relationship.

He is 100% human, basically, and that is why you relate to him immediately.  A clumsy, flawed man whose heart is in the right place, who is intuitively clever with cold facts but pretty lousy with those people who care for him the most –  what is not to like and love about the shambling Cormoran?  Plus brainy  = sexy.

Young Yorkshire born (yaay!!) Robin is cool perfection personified, and what I wouldn’t give to have her run and organise my life, the way she organises Cormoran Strike, her supposedly temp boss.

Since this is a crime thriller, I will not spoil the plot.  Worry not.

Suffice it to say that “The Cuckoo’s Calling” is a page turner of note, and that the city of London is more than just a scenic backdrop to the action.  London is fabulously evoked, in all her endlessly dug up roads and traffic jams and noise.  The flaky fashionistas who people the book, the down on their luck characters who wander in and out of the narrative, the cocky cops –  they are all brilliantly depicted.

Loved the book.  Can’t wait for the next one, in what I do hope will become a series.

Jut one teeny weeny quibble.  Not wild about the title.

I read “The Cuckoo’s Calling” on my Kindle (while camping at 5000+metres in the Himalayas, if you must know).

Published in April 2013.

 

If you wish to read the book now, after reading my review, couldn’t be simpler.  Just click on any of the links below: