How the Killing Eve story is evolving in the original book series
Pop culture’s most beguiling battle of wits now occupies two fictional universes: the BBC America series Killing Eve and the books on which it’s based, Luke Jennings’ Villanelle novels. The former is a certified hit, moving at a swift pace — season 2 launches April 7, less than a year after the season 1 premiere — but Jennings isn’t lagging behind, George R.R. Martin-style. His sequel, No Tomorrow, hits U.S. shelves this Tuesday.
The first novel, Codename Villanelle (which was published last April), introduces the obsessive, bizarrely touching dynamic between MI6 agent Eve Polastri and her target, the gorgeous, enigmatic — and maybe psychopathic — international assassin Villanelle (played by Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, respectively, on Killing Eve). No Tomorrow begins where Codename — and Eve season 1 — left off, with Eve reeling from the discovery of an MI6 conspiracy that may center on Villanelle. This only intensifies their cat-and-mouse game — and the obsession it’s bred.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator of Killing Eve, brings her distinct sensibility to the TV adaptation, but she’s faithful to Jennings’ mission. “Phoebe and I spoke regularly, dissecting Eve and Villanelle and their relationship,” Jennings says. This included extensive conversations about Villanelle’s love for fashion, drawn straight from the books: “When Phoebe and I started working together, I’d send her endless screengrabs of outfits — Miu Miu, Balenciaga, Valentino — I thought Villanelle would go for.”
Jennings helped develop Killing Eve‘s plot for the first season, but don’t expect much overlap between the series and books in year 2 — even if the author enjoys how “the show’s story lines entwine with mine.” In his view, he’s reached the firm midpoint of a Villanelle trilogy. “As Eve locks onto Villanelle’s trail, I wanted to show that pursuit, no matter how pitiless, is also a kind of courtship,” Jennings says of No Tomorrow‘s conceit. “In the end, it’s just the two of them, playing by rules only they understand.”