Set in the 1970s in a run-down, rainy industrial town, Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth centers around a police force struggling to shed an incessant drug problem. Duncan, chief of police, is idealistic and visionary, a dream to the townspeople but a nightmare for criminals. The drug trade is ruled by two drug lords, one of whom—a master of manipulation named Hecate—has connections with the highest in power, and plans to use them to get his way.

Hecate’s plot hinges on steadily, insidiously manipulating Inspector Macbeth: the head of SWAT and a man already susceptible to violent and paranoid tendencies. What follows is an unputdownable story of love and guilt, political ambition, and greed for more, exploring the darkest corners of human nature, and the aspirations of the criminal mind.

The Review


by Jo Nesbø 

Publisher: Hogarth Shakespeare

Release Date: April 5, 2018

Genre: Crime Fiction, Retelling


Initial Thoughts: Wow. So much…killing. My vicious little heart is so happy!

If you thought Shakespeare’s Macbeth was violent, then wait til you read Nesbø’s rendition! To better articulate my thoughts, I’ll give your my reasons for loving MACBETH!

A COMPLEX STORYLINE. The blurb tells of an action-packed novel of gangs, drugs, and police corruption, but the novel goes so much deeper than that. We have players with multiple agendas, with vividly written backgrounds. Regarding the storyline, there’s a lot to it that readers will appreciate. There’s politics, corruption, an underground world, violent standoffs, emotional standoffs, and war-like setting where the prize is power and greed. The book is slow but this complements the needed development for the plot.

UNPREDICTABLE CHARACTERS. These characters surpass the normalcy of  the “morally skewed” trope. Betrayal, betrayal, betrayal. Half of my time reading was  spent wondering which character to trust. Everyone is drowning in corruption. BUT at the same time there’s a tender core to them that makes you sympathize. It makes you want to overlook their flaws. Compared to the Shakespearean Macbeth, Nesbø has filled in the vague backgrounds of the original characters bringing a darker life to the original play. This homage of  a book was incredibly well written.

JO NESBO’S MACBETH CAN STAND ON ITS OWN. If you’ve read the original play and worry that this contemporary rendition will disappoint you, then let me tell you that there’s no merit to your doubts. Nesbø’s Macbeth still surprised me with its twisted plot until the very end. This is not a simple narration, instead Nesbø has applied his own style to the novel while remaining true to its gritty heart. His own interpretation of the original Macbeth  was both ambitious and yet well executed.

In my biased opinion, I could not find anything wrong with this book. I absolutely loved everything about it and I believe Nesbø was the perfect person to tell Macbeth’s story.


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Disclaimer: Thank you  Hogarth Shakespeare and NetGalley for providing me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. 

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8 thoughts on “A GRITTY YET ORIGINAL RETELLING: Macbeth by Jo Nesbø

  1. becandbones says:

    Oh this sounds super good! I used to love Nesbo before I fell out with crime novels and the idea that he has twisted a retelling really intrigues me.

    I love the thought of the original characters, not only having a different setting and circumstance, but also having their backgrounds more fleshed out and intricate (something we never saw much of from Shakespeare!)

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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