Published by Hogarth on April 5th 2018
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“You’re a better man than me, Macbeth.”
Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth is his contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare Project. This book started slowly for me. Which is funny because the book opens to action but nevertheless it was S-L-O-W. There is a lot going on all at once and there are a lot of characters with their agendas. I found I put this book down a lot in the beginning and turned to other books but kept coming back to this one. As I said I struggled in the beginning of this book as it was slow, but it didn’t stay that way. This Mash up of Nesbo and Shakespeare was quite entertaining. After the first couple of chapters I was hooked. This book kind of snuck up on me. If you struggle in the beginning of this book as I did, stay with it, it’s worth it as Nesbo unleashes his re-telling of Macbeth as only he can! It’s gritty, dark and addictive (once you get past the beginning).
“It’s never what you want to do, but what you have to do.”
Set in the 1970’s, this book focuses on a police force attempting to shed its drug problem. A dangerous drug lord named Hecate has high connections in the city and will use them to get what he wants – absolute power. He is manipulative and clever. Macbeth is a man with demons. He has addiction issues and is prone to violence and paranoia. He also just so happens to be the head of the SWAT team. Hecate’s plan involves manipulating Macbeth while putting him in a position of power. Hecate also owns one of the two casinos in the rainy industrial town which serves as the setting for this book. The other casino is owned by Macbeth’s girlfriend, Lady.
“A last desperate act which, seen from the outside, is a sacrifice, but which deep down you hope will be rewarded with the forgiveness of your sins and opening of heaven’s gates.”
A drug bust goes wrong at the beginning of the book and Macbeth and Duff, his childhood friend need to clean up the mess. It’s not long after that drug bust when power, greed and guilt come into play. Ambitions can and do get the worst of people in this book. In one way or another various characters owe others debts and call them in. Soon greed, ambition, corruption, backstabbing, lies, murder, love, guilt and the need to be the top dog in the city get the best of many characters.
Nesbo puts his personal touches on Macbeth focusing on political ambition, greed, murder, and police procedures and corruption. I thought Nesbo’s re-telling was clever, entertaining and intelligent. This book was well written and well thought out. I can’t imagine how much work it took to right such a re-telling. I think he pulled off the re-telling brilliantly.
I believe fans of Shakespeare’s Macbeth will appreciate this book and also people who have not read Shakespeare’s Macbeth will enjoy Nesbo’s re-telling. In other words, I do not believe you need to be familiar with the original work to enjoy this version.
Thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.