Macbeth

Macbeth

He’s the best cop they’ve got. When a drug bust turns into a bloodbath it’s up to Inspector Macbeth and his team to clean up the mess. He’s also an ex-drug addict with a troubled past. He’s rewarded for his success. Power. Money. Respect. They’re all within reach.But a man like him won’t get to the top.Plagued by hallucinations and paranoia, Macbeth starts to unravel. He’s...

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Title:Macbeth
Author:Jo Nesbø
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Edition Language:English

Macbeth Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    Inverness.

    1970s.

    Setting: Run down industrial town with toxic air and poisoned earth. Crime is high as more and m

    Inverness.

    1970s.

    Setting: Run down industrial town with toxic air and poisoned earth. Crime is high as more and more of the population becomes addicted to an illicit drug called Brew, made in a witch’s caldron. (I know, heavy, right?) Hecate is the drug lord who, behind the scenes, manipulates everything.

    Duncan is the police commissioner.

    He is honest, and if given a chance, he will lead Inverness back to a happy better life.

    So it all begins with a promotion that is given to a man named Macbeth. He is the head of SWAT, but they want to move him up to head of Organized Crime. It is a job that (Mac)Duff, his longest friend, has coveted. The decision is based off the fact that everyone in positions of power have come from the well educated, upper classes. Macbeth comes from the lower classes and was once completely strung out on Brew. Hecate, always one to sense opportunity, dispatches the witch Strega to Macbeth to share a prophecy with him. Hecate knows that Macbeth is the very guy he has been looking for to derail Duncan.

    Macbeth is love-smitten, indeed, with the lovely woman who calls herself Lady Macbeth. She has fiery red hair, elegance, and flair that makes men go weak in the knees. She owns the casino in town, but her ambitions go way beyond controlling gambling. She thinks Macbeth should listen to the prophecy and become police commissioner, but why stop there? Why not mayor, as well?

    Macbeth must become someone else, someone he fought, conquered, and left bleeding in the gutter of his past.

    To be that man, he needs brew. He needs brew, sliding like silver snakes through his bloodstream, to give him the courage/cowardice to kill Duncan.

    Ambition achieved and yet unearned creates anxiety. Who can rest easy on the bones of their enemies when they weren’t truly their enemies, but good men more deserving? As Macbeth does more and more to friends who know too much and to those who simply stand in his way,

    paranoia becomes his constant companion, and his weaknesses become more evidence .

    He is on a collision course with Duff, who becomes the only man who has a chance to stop him.

    Out of all the plays that I’ve read by William Shakespeare, Macbeth is my favorite. I haven’t read them all so I do reserve the right to change my Shakespeare affiliation as I work my way through the Bard’s amazing contribution to English Literature. It turns out to be a terrible alliance, due to the fact that Lady and Macbeth spur each other’s ambitions which, once achieved, turn out to be hollow and too highly priced. The greed for power is strong, and like a drug, people can start to want more, always chasing the feeling of that high when they first triumphed.

    Inexplicably, I’ve always liked Macbeth. I find myself, whether it is a play, a movie, or this novel, rooting for him even though he isn’t really that likeable. I see the promise in him that is overcome by the evil in him. I’m always hopeful that some writer or movie producer will pull him back from the brink and set him down on a path to be the man I know he could be. Of course, redemption is not the theme of the play, nor of any movie or book starring Macbeth. He must be consumed by his own guilt and insecurities. He must ultimately be destroyed by the weight of his misdeeds.

    There are ghosts, witches, and playful uses of characters. Seyton is transformed into some creature beyond the pale of human understanding. Everything I’ve read says that Shakespeare never intended the name Seyton to infer that he was Satan, but where the Bard may have let the opportunity flitter away in rewrites, Jo Nesbo did not. Nesbo certainly has fun with the characters. Caithness, a Scottish nobleman in the play, is cast as a woman in this novel, the lover of Duff. Hecate is a witch in the play, but becomes a male drug lord in this novel. Nesbo stays reasonably close to the original plot.

    I’m really impressed with the first volume I’ve read in the Hogarth Shakespeare series. Hogarth was the original press owned by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Next on my list will be Margaret Atwood’s retelling of

    . The others in the series are Tracy Chevalier retelling

    , Gillian FLynn retelling

    , Howard Jacobson retelling

    , Edward St. Aubyn retelling

    , Anne Tyler retelling

    , and Jeanette Winterson retelling

    . If they have not commissioned your favorite play yet, stay tuned. This novel was a bloody blast. I set aside all other books to focus on reading it over the weekend and found it, frankly, invigorating. Shakespeare made into a page turner.

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  • Amalia Gavea

    Without any prologue and lengthy introductions, I must tell you that this book is a masterpiece. It has the status of a classic, the making of a novel that will defy time. Nesbø took the masterpiece by William Shakespeare and elevated it to new heights. If you follow m

    Without any prologue and lengthy introductions, I must tell you that this book is a masterpiece. It has the status of a classic, the making of a novel that will defy time. Nesbø took the masterpiece by William Shakespeare and elevated it to new heights. If you follow my reviews, you know that I have two obsessions: Wuthering Heights and Macbeth. I never thought I’d say that another writer would come to rival the greatness of the Scottish Play but there you have it. Sacrilege verified.

    Nesbø sets the action in Scotland, during the 70’s and we are transported into the fickle, cruel world of casinos, the drug ‘’market’’ and the universe of high crime. Everything is masterfully crafted to reflect Shakespeare’s world. Macbeth is the head of the SWAT unit, Lady is the owner of a quality casino, Banquo is Macbeth’s mentor. The Norse Riders gang is the main rival and Hecate is the mob boss who appears to move the strings and direct the characters’ fate. See what Nesbø did there? I think you do and I tell you it is a marvelous stance. He shows how Fate arms Macbeth’s hand and the sequence of events is immediate. The consequences unavoidable and irreversible.

    As in the original material, the finest scenes are the ones between Macbeth and Lady. Dare I say that their relationship in Nesbø’s retelling is even more fleshed out and poignant? Well, I do because it’s the truth. If you love this frighteningly alluring couple in the Bard’s play, you will fall head-over-heels for them in this novel. Macbeth is perfectly drawn. He’s slightly more malicious and ruthless than his Shakespearean counterpart but this is to be expected given the setting and the direction of the story. Because of Hecate's brew, Macbeth’s visions start early and they are striking. The depiction of his guilt and the emotional toil of his actions, his steady descent into despair, his surrendering to his fate is a devastating process to read and knowing the outcome makes it even worse, it makes it even more powerful.

    Lovely Lady...She is brilliant, as fascinating and dangerous as the Queen of Scotland. And do you know what I enjoyed the most? The fact that in Nesbø’s version, Lady is a powerful woman who has come into her own without taking orders and sh...from men. She is more experienced, more intelligent than Macbeth. Their relationship is balanced and loving yet, she doesn’t need him to define her as a person. She is not ‘’his’’ queen, she is a woman who has forged herself through fire and steel and takes responsibility of her own choices. And in this version, she is granted a number of redeeming qualities that are absolutely absent in the original play.

    I cannot say much because spoilers are lurking. Even though we all know the original story, Nesbø has created quite a few twists and turns that forbid me to say much. It’s a joy to be able to recognise the exact scenes from the Bard’s play, the monologues and the famous quotes within the context of Nesbø’s story, to pinpoint the parallel lines between the two works. The bleak atmosphere of Scotland, the fact that most of the action takes place during the night, the frenetic 70’s vibe mirror the spirit of Macbeth to perfection. I didn’t expect such a successful adaptation of Shakespeare’s quotes into contemporary language without sacrificing their beauty, their impact, their significance. So major congratulations to Don Bartlett for the translation from the original Norwegian. The interactions are as solemn and as natural as they can be and the prose is rich in a distinct, dark Nordic beauty.

    Naturally, I knew of Nesbø but I’ve never read any of his novels. I didn’t let my expectations rise too much prior to reading this but to say that I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. Nesbø took the Nordic heritage and the dark Scottish setting and remained faithful to the original source. Without presuming to be equal to the Bard, full of respect and obviously aware of the tremendous responsibility, he created a work that would make William Shakespeare proud. So, read it, dearest friends. This is the best retelling of Shakespeare’s work that we will ever come to know in our time…

    Many thanks to Penguin Random House, Hogarth UK and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange of an honest review,

    My reviews can also be found on

  • Matt

    First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Jo Nesbø, Hogarth, and Crown Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

    Contributing to the Hogarth Shakespeare collection, Jo Nesbø has created a modern retelling of the Bard’s Macbeth. Set around 1970, the story opens with a police raid on a local gang running narcotics. When the authorities bungle things exquisitely, leaving blood and bodies scattered around the clubhou

    First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Jo Nesbø, Hogarth, and Crown Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

    Contributing to the Hogarth Shakespeare collection, Jo Nesbø has created a modern retelling of the Bard’s Macbeth. Set around 1970, the story opens with a police raid on a local gang running narcotics. When the authorities bungle things exquisitely, leaving blood and bodies scattered around the clubhouse, heads must roll within the police force. During the shake-up, Macbeth is brought on as the new head of Organised Crime, set to turn his men into a respectable arm of the force. Learning of her husband’s new position, Lady Macbeth encourages her husband to continue his climb, which is further supported by a high-level crime boss, Hecate. During one of Macbeth’s visits to Hecate, three substance-altered prostitutes foresee Macbeth’s rise to the position of Chief Commissioner, at the top of the entire police force. With a number of officials ahead of him, Macbeth is unsure how he will accomplish this, happy to run Organised Crime for the time being. Lady Macbeth can see a clear path to the top and knows her husband has it in him, if only he will bend the rules to better his chances. She convinces her husband to murder the current Chief Commissioner and frame another official, which he agrees to do while under the influence of narcotics. From there, one murder begets others to cover-up the trail being left. Even when the sought-after position is achieved, neither Macbeth or his wife are satisfied. However, their paranoia force more cover-ups and the need to constantly look over their shoulders. It would seem that power is the most addictive drug of all, one that cannot be sated by a simple snort or needle. Might the rise to power lead to a devastating crash into oblivion? Nesbø weaves quite the tale, using the framework Shakespeare made famous, providing his fans and those who enjoy the Bard’s work quite a great story. Hogarth did well picking Nesbø to explore this dark tale.

    Nesbø has quite a dark side when writing for his adult audience, though is also well-versed in creating police thrillers that keep the reader engaged. Some love his writing—as well as the darker side of crime that emerges from the narrative—while others find his work too dense to enjoy, as it is not easily digested. I found myself straddling both camps here, though was able to forge ahead when I gained enough momentum (and time to read!). Macbeth is, of course a central character in the piece and Nesbø does a wonderful job portraying this man as someone who is in touch with his passions, but soon becomes swept up by all the power that is laid at his feet. One can only presume that it is the influence of his power-hungry wife and the influence of narcotics that led him down such a difficult path, one that would be paved in gold, only to reveal tarnished brass by the end of the book. Other characters emerge to support and block Macbeth’s climb to power, adding depth and flavour to the narrative, including those who see Macbeth for the corrupt leader he becomes. The story is strong and ties nicely into the original narrative laid out over four centuries ago. Using the same characters and most of their fates, Nesbø stays true while also modernising the story in an effective manner. Fans of Shakespeare will surely find their own weaknesses, but in an effort to entertain effectively, Nesbø is spot-on with his storytelling. Mixing short and longer chapters, the reader is able to develop a connection to the story and its characters, as long as a steady momentum is kept. As with all Nesbø pieces, the translation does not take away from the power of the message found within and, if anything, provides an even stronger piece.

    Kudos, Mr. Nesbø, for another excellent piece of writing. While your style is an acquired taste, those with the patience for it are surely in for a wonderful adventure.

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  • Debra

    "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 own 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

    "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 own 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. Nesbo's Macbeth was well written and well thought out. I can’t imagine how much work it took to write 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.

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  • Carol

  • Paromjit

    Jo Nesbo, with his Scandi-Noir credentials, reinterprets Shakespeare's Macbeth within the provinces of a police force in the 1970s in a bleak declining town riven with gang warfare, drug addiction, corruption and all other manner of darkest deeds and where little differentiates the cops from the criminals. This novel mostly follows the trajectory of the original play, albeit in a suitably blood drenched and twisted fashion. Nesbo gives us a tale of ruthless political ambition, betrayal, treacher

    Jo Nesbo, with his Scandi-Noir credentials, reinterprets Shakespeare's Macbeth within the provinces of a police force in the 1970s in a bleak declining town riven with gang warfare, drug addiction, corruption and all other manner of darkest deeds and where little differentiates the cops from the criminals. This novel mostly follows the trajectory of the original play, albeit in a suitably blood drenched and twisted fashion. Nesbo gives us a tale of ruthless political ambition, betrayal, treachery and murder, with a mesmerising and compelling antihero in the ex-drug addict, Macbeth, as the head of the heavily armoured SWAT team with a troubled past from which he was rescued by Banquo. The Police Commissioner is none other than Duncan, with Malcolm as his deputy and Duff heads the Narcotics unit. Recently promoted after a policing debacle, Macbeth has a skill and penchant for daggers despite the armoury of weapons at his disposal. There is an intense, heavily atmospheric, menacing setting of a rain sodden anarchic town, infested with a dense, poisonous, and ominous mist providing the perfect background to the rivers of blood that are unleashed in Macbeth's path to power.

    The manipulative Hecate is a drug lord serving up the addictive and lethal crack like 'brew' that so many need and cannot exist without. His 'witches' seduce the insecure power hungry Macbeth with the prophetic promise of the highest office of Police Commissioner, providing he leaves the drug business alone. Macbeth is egged on by the casino owner and his love, Lady, but needs to partake of the 'brew' to access the murkier qualities of his younger self to find the courage required to stab Duncan in his sleep, whilst laying the blame elsewhere. Macbeth succeeds beyond his wildest dreams, but all is not well. The delusional Macbeth's life begins to unravel at a startling rate with the rising tide of the dead as he descends into a drug fuelled psychotic haze of paranoia and hallucinations where everyone is suspect and a threat that has to be eradicated. If you are familiar with the play, then you will be aware of where all this is heading, although not quite perhaps in the way you might expect.

    Nesbo succeeds in providing us with a thrilling version of a contemporary reworking of Macbeth, which is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, having first studied it at school. However, if you are in search of a tale that is anchored in reality, then you are doomed to be sorely disappointed. To get the most out of this retelling, you will need to suspend your disbelief on a number of occasions. I have seen many versions of Macbeth in a variety of settings through the years, Nesbo's Macbeth stacks up well with the best of them. It had me reading as fast as I could, desperate to find out how it all ends. Highly entertaining and providing you are not a purist, highly recommended. Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC.

  • Barbara

    The Hogarth Shakespeare project invites current writers to update Shakespeare’s plays, setting them in modern times with modern characters.

    "Macbeth" by Jo Nesbø is a retelling of Shakespeare's play "Macbeth", which was set in the Middle Ages. The original story centers around a high-ranking Scottish military leader named Macbeth who - urged on by his ambitious wife Lady Macbeth - secretly murders the King so he can take the throne. Afterwards, the usurper becomes a murderous tyrant who

    The Hogarth Shakespeare project invites current writers to update Shakespeare’s plays, setting them in modern times with modern characters.

    "Macbeth" by Jo Nesbø is a retelling of Shakespeare's play "Macbeth", which was set in the Middle Ages. The original story centers around a high-ranking Scottish military leader named Macbeth who - urged on by his ambitious wife Lady Macbeth - secretly murders the King so he can take the throne. Afterwards, the usurper becomes a murderous tyrant who orders the death of anyone who opposes him or threatens his power. I'll admit that - to refresh my memory before reading Nesbø's book - I watched the 2010 movie "Macbeth" starring Sir Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood.

    *****

    Nesbø's retelling of Macbeth, set in the early 1970's, substitutes the police department of a downtrodden European city for the Scottish royal court. In Nesbø's story, Macbeth is the head of a SWAT team who - persuaded by his girlfriend Lady - murders the police department's Chief Commissioner to take over his position. Macbeth then engineers the death of anyone who suspects him of murder or endangers his position.

    Macbeth, in a magnificent feat of self-delusion, asserts that his ultimate goal is to clean up the city, wipe out corruption, and help the people - many of whom are addicted to a cocaine-like drug called 'Brew.' Unknown to Macbeth, however, his ascension to Chief Commissioner - as well as his ongoing ambitions - are being covertly manipulated by a major drug lord/drug manufacturer called Hecate.....who wants Macbeth in his pocket. In fact Macbeth himself soon becomes addicted to 'Brew'.....and later to an even stronger drug called 'Power.' (LOL)

    Macbeth has no loyalty and no conscience. Early in the story Macbeth orders the death of Banquo, a father figure who took Macbeth in when he was a homeless teenage addict.....and cleaned him up. Later on, Macbeth sends his henchmen to wipe out Duff, a steadfast friend from childhood who saved Macbeth from a child predator in their orphanage.

    No evil is too base for Macbeth, who's ultimately responsible for the murders of numerous men, women, children.....and a baby. Though Macbeth's depravity is off the charts, he stoically claims that - in the long run - 'it's for the public good.'

    All manner of things are seen in this book, including: ghost appearances; witches; spying; double dealing; gambling; drug snorting; a motorcycle gang; gatling gun massacres; sleepwalking; adultery; a demon; and more. There's a wide variety of action and intrigue....and even a bit of seduction and romance.

    Overall, Nesbø's book (more or less) faithfully follows the trajectory of the original play, so - if you're familiar with that - you'll have an idea of what happens.

    Jo Nesbø is the best-selling author of the 'Harry Hole' detective series - about a troubled, alcoholic Norwegian cop whose cases always involve gruesome murders. Thus, it's natural for Nesbø - who seems very familiar with the politics of law enforcement - to set his updated "Macbeth" in the environs of a police force.

    Nesbø's tale is well-written, compelling, and held my attention throughout. That said, the book feels overlong - with so many murders and battles that they feel repetitive. Moreover, the continuous treachery and barbarity becomes hard to stomach (for me).

    Nevertheless, I'd recommend Nesbø's "Macbeth" to readers who enjoy Shakespeare; the Hogarth series; and/or thrillers. It's well worth reading.

    Thanks to Netgalley, the author (Jo Nesbø), and the publisher (Knopf Canada) for a copy of the book.

    You can follow my reviews at

  • Jaidee

    2.5 "hazy, lazy, Tarantino " stars !!!

    Like a Tarantino film this has blood, gore, lots and lots of action, hot babes, strong dudes and kept you entertained from beginning to end. I am not sure that this is what I wanted from a re-telling of Macbeth.

    I found this book lazy and hazy. Characters that had no depth, cheap psycho-babble explanations and tons of conveniences that would just pop up to carry the quick plot along.

    On a beach this might be great fun but as a modern adaptation of a masterwor

    2.5 "hazy, lazy, Tarantino " stars !!!

    Like a Tarantino film this has blood, gore, lots and lots of action, hot babes, strong dudes and kept you entertained from beginning to end. I am not sure that this is what I wanted from a re-telling of Macbeth.

    I found this book lazy and hazy. Characters that had no depth, cheap psycho-babble explanations and tons of conveniences that would just pop up to carry the quick plot along.

    On a beach this might be great fun but as a modern adaptation of a masterwork I found it severely lacking !!

    Yes I liked it, yes I really did but I cannot in good conscience give it more than 2.5 stars !

    I will give Nesbo another go at some point but I wished he had worked much harder on this one.

  • Glenn Russell

    King of Norwegian crime fiction soaked in blood, Jo Nesbø is the perfect choice for a retelling of Shakespeare's

    .

    I say this having listened to Jo's adrenaline pumping

    ,

    ,

    ,

    and

    .

    I'm in good company. James Shapiro has been teaching Shakespeare at Columbia University for nearly 40 years and his

    review of the novel is glowing: "One of the pleasures of reading this book is watching Nesbø meet the formidable challenge of assimilating e

    King of Norwegian crime fiction soaked in blood, Jo Nesbø is the perfect choice for a retelling of Shakespeare's

    .

    I say this having listened to Jo's adrenaline pumping

    ,

    ,

    ,

    and

    .

    I'm in good company. James Shapiro has been teaching Shakespeare at Columbia University for nearly 40 years and his

    review of the novel is glowing: "One of the pleasures of reading this book is watching Nesbø meet the formidable challenge of assimilating elements of the play unsuited to realistic crime fiction, especially the supernatural: the witches, prophecies, visions, and the mysterious figure of Hecate."

    As the 11th century of Shakespeare's Scotland contained those hair-raising supernatural elements so in the 1970s of Jo Nesbø's unnamed Scottish city resembling Glasgow we have that all too familiar part of our modern world - hard drugs. And Jo adds to the list yet another eerie, freaky, mind-bender - "Brew," complements of Hecate and his three sinister assistants.

    I can see why some readers, even Jo Nesbø fans, might give up on the novel - they simply have not read far enough. The action is always brisk but it really kicks into signature spellbinding Jo Nesbø gear AFTER the murder of Duncan. Holy Hogarth! Shimmering Shakespeare! What a difference. Jo does it again - this time a page-turner fueled by murder after murder after murder. By remaining faithful to the broad outline of the Bard's tragic play, Jo's

    just might tally more murder victims than a fistful of his Harry Hole novels combined.

    I trust everyone knows the story from high school English class so I'll make a quick shift to a number of Jo's creative highlights that make this novel one fabulous adaptation:

    HECATE

    Powerful drug lord, the "Invisible Hand” who rules the city. As diabolical old man Hecate reflects: “You have to make sure you becomes a god yourself. It is easier than you might think. The obstacle to most people achieving god-like status is that they are afraid and superstitious, and in their anxiety-ridden submission they believe there is a morality, a set of heaven-sent rules that apply to all people." No doubt about it, Jo Nesbø’s focus is on human psychology and morality, the conflict between a thirst for power versus conscience and a sense of humanity and decency. One example of Hecate in action: he demands a young boy addict cut out his own eye in exchange for a bag of Brew.

    THREE WITCHES

    "Double, double toil and trouble." Hecate has Strega, a creepy fortunetelling man-woman and two sisters with disease ravaged faces he found in an opium den in Bangkok. A la Shakespeare’s play, the sisters add toads’ glands, bumblebee wings and juice from rats to come up with their instantly addictive, super-high, hallucination producing cocaine concoction of Brew bubbling in a huge caldron in Hecate’s secret laboratory.

    NORSE RIDERS

    Armed to the teeth drug dealing motorcycle gang wearing their leather jackets and displaying their tattoos. Sweno, head of the Norse Riders, is a born killer who sets the tone for the gang - - raising hell and committing murder as the ultimate high.

    POLICE AND MORE POLICE

    The city's factories, warehouses and offices are nearly all shut down and boarded up. The unemployment rate soars. Meanwhile, in addition to the "regular" police, there's the Forensic Unit, Narco Unit, Homicide Unit, Gang Unit, Organized Crime Unit and SWAT. Atop this massive structure is Chief Commissioner Duncan, a good man whose primary aim is to clean up the city and bring back jobs along with a sense of civic pride. But, but. but . . . treachery, treason, corruption, double-dealing and power games within the force abound.

    MACBETH

    Unlike Shakespeare’s play, the shortest of his tragedies, Jo Nesbø’s 500-page novel provides ample opportunity to delve into the backstory of his characters, including Macbeth. Macbeth had a terrible childhood - raised in an orphanage, he was repeatedly sexually abused by the warden. Jo also adds many strokes of color: a one-time circus performer, Macbeth is an expert with a dagger; as a youth prior to joining the police, Macbeth was a drug addict; Macbeth was in love with Meredith, a young beauty who later left him to marry his dearest friend Duff (Macduff in Shakespeare).

    As Chief Commissioner, urged on by Lady, Macbeth increasingly feels all the pressure. He must steel his nerves and resolve since his old insecurity in being raised as an orphan returns. Macbeth needs help, chemical help, that it. Macbeth turns to Hecate to fulfill his need – Brew. Ah, Macbeth has the perfect balance of medication and feels the power surging through his heart and brain. Now nothing can stop Macbeth. He can even deal with the ghosts he starts seeing both during the day and in his dreams at night.

    Alas, there’s another consequence of snorting Brew – it makes the user paranoid. Here’s Macbeth telling Lady about Banquo, the man who brought him into the police force in the first place: “He loved me like a father loves a son, but that love turned to hatred when he drank the poison of envy. I passed him on the way up, and instead of him being my boss I became his. And as well as obeying my orders he has had to tolerate the unspoken contempt of his very own blood. Fleance, who has seen his father bow his head to the cuckoo in the nest, Macbeth.” Double toil and trouble - if paranoia goes too far, everybody you come in contact with becomes a threat, an enemy. And if the paranoid individual has unlimited power, watch out! The ultimate solution – murder.

    LADY

    In the novel, Lady Macbeth is always Lady. Lady isn’t so much a wife for Macbeth as she is the ravishing beauty with her long flowing red hair (nice touch, Jo!). Lady as the ultimate Femme Fatale. Similar to Macbeth, Lady’s backstory isn’t pretty: she was also brutalized and abused as a child. But what Lady lacks in background, she makes up in intelligence, cunning and ambition. Lady is the owner of a large, luxurious casino hotel, The Inverness, in the heart of the city. Unlike the Bard’s play, Macbeth and Lady only go back a few years. Their love still burns bright, an intoxicating flame.

    For fans of Shakespeare and/or fans of Jo Nesbø,

    is a must read. It is a long novel but well worth the investment of time and energy. And if you enjoy audio books, there’s good news: Euan Morton provides an excellent narration of the book using a Scottish accent. Again, I can’t stress enough – don’t give up on the novel too soon as the action truly revs up beginning one hundred pages in, in Chapter 10, with the murder of Duncan.

    Jo Nesbø, born 1960

    Macbeth speaking to Seyton: "You're not born of woman, you were made. Made of bad dreams, evil and whatever it is that wants to break and destroy." - Jo Nesbø,

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