Macbeth - Jo Nesbo

September 2, 2018

3 / 5 Stars 


A clever concept but way too bogged down in the details.

Let's face it, Jo Nesbo does grime and grit to perfection. Right from the start, the reader is plunged into this crime-riddled Scottish city, where corruption is rife in the police force and drug barons peddle nasty substances called 'Brew' on the streets.


It's a clever enough set-up for a Macbeth retelling. Macbeth himself is an ambitious policeman who happens to be addicted to drugs (this aspect I really liked). 'Lady' runs a casino but has a past that continues to haunt her. And Duff? Well, he's ambitious too, though no-one likes him very much apart from his wife, despite the fact she knows he's cheating on her. 

It's all very well thought-through and for the most part, it works. However, some parts were awkward in the retelling. For example, 'Hecate' in place of the three witches didn't quite mesh for me - it was as though the author couldn't quite decide whether to go supernatural or not. But mostly I felt they were cleverly executed. 

My main quibble with this book is its sheer size and scope, which I felt was over-ambitious. It was laden down with details about minor characters who didn't have much bearing on the overall plot - and I felt this detracted from the main action. If this book had been sliced down by about a third, I think it would have really showcased the author's great ability to bring out the modernity and grittiness of this Shakespearean tale. 

As it stands, my attention wandered on and off throughout, which is why it didn't score higher. I'd be happy to try other books by the author though as I liked the style of writing.

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