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Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

Macbeth (original 2018; edition 2018)

by Jo Nesbo (Author)

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2091955,966 (3.32)15
Authors:Jo Nesbo (Author)
Info:Hogarth (2018), 464 pages
Collections:Your library

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Macbeth by Jo Nesbo (2018)



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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Great crime novel. Although I am not a fan of crime novels, this one earns high marks in my opinion. But it's perhaps because I like Shakespeare.
Takes the well-known story of Shakespeare's Macbeth and places it in a 1970s Nordic town (I assume Norway, but it coukd be any of the Nordc countrues).
No need to retell the plot here, but it's worthwhile pointing out the great way in which Nesbo develops the psychology and feelings of the characters in a manner akin to Shakespeare, although with more words.
I particulary liked, if one can like, Lady Macbeth, called simply Lady, and her slow evolution to mental decay. But the element that is bringing that decay along is the dependence on drugs, by both Macbeth and Lady.
The other Shakespeare characters appear true to form. Duff, Malcom, etc. are mirror images in the novel.
It helps a lot if one is familiar with the Shakespeare version. ( )
  xieouyang | Jun 5, 2018 |
Beware of spoilers!

Right from the beginning there is a dystopian feeling about this stand-alone novel unmistakeably related to the "Scottish play". In it you will meet modern versions of the main characters from the Shakespearian story, bearing in mind that his stage version was only that - a fictionalisation of what had happened in Scotland over 500 years earlier.

The setting of the novel seems rather obscure and vague, with the city not actually being named. although obviously in Scotland. The city is no longer a bustling metropolis. The drug trade and drug pushing has gone on too long. Addicts lie everywhere. There's a depiction of the struggle between opposing groups struggling for control of its underworld and drug trade: cops, bikies, corrupt politicians. The police force has been cleansed but there is rivalry between groups, at least one mole, and power struggles everywhere you look.

Nesbo has taken themes and plot lines from the Shakespearian play and put them in modern settings. This book won't be everyone's cup of tea, especially not those who are expecting a Nordic thriller. It will mean more to those who know the original play. Other reviews that I have read on Amazon have asked why Nesbo went down this path. I think he recognised a timeless story, but just to make sure he used the same names for many of the characters: Macbeth, Banquo, Malcolm, Lennox, Fleance etc., so we would recognise them too.

An interesting rather than enjoyable novel, springing from the sort of thoughts you have after seeing the Scottish play and wondering whether it has modern relevance. I think Nesbo proves that it does. ( )
1 vote smik | May 21, 2018 |
I'm a big fan of Jo Nesbo and looked forward to his reimagining of Macbeth. Looking back after reading the novel I appreciate Nesbo's contemporary retelling. That doesn't mean this was an easy book to read - it was not. It took me at least the first half of the novel to get involved in the action as opposed to merely sitting back trying to get my arms around the bleakness of surroundings and the believability of the characters occupying this world. Initially, I found characters and actions a bit over-simplified and rushed which was for me a weak foundation for what was to come. I finally got to the point about midway where I could finally get into the action and enjoy the characters for themselves as their motivations, character flaws, etc. played out. Guess it all worked out in the end ... well not so much for Macbeth but enough to make it an enjoyable ride for me. ( )
  Hardboiled | May 9, 2018 |
Lovers of Shakespeare and fans of Norwegian thriller writer Jo Nesbø will enjoy the latest retelling of The Bard’s tales to be published thanks to the efforts of the Hogarth Shakespeare project. To date, Nesbø’s is the only retelling to stick with the original title, which I thought was somewhat odd as The Scottish Play is the one whose title superstitious theater folk believe should never be spoken.

As a big fan of both Shakespeare and Nesbø, I was intrigued to see what the creator of the Harry Hole police procedural series would do with this classic story of love, loyalty and overreaching ambition. Nesbø chose to stick with Scotland but updates the setting to the 1970s, making Macbeth a SWAT team leader in the police force of a crime-ridden city with all of the color and charm of a Glasgow ghetto. The witches’ brew of yore has become brew, a highly addictive amphetamine developed by Hecate, the local drug lord. The idea that being bewitched is similar to addiction goes a long way in making the new setting work.

Nesbø’s Macbeth follows the plot of the original fairly closely but does take quite a bit longer to get to Act V than did Shakespeare, meaning that readers spend a lot more time in arriving at a finale that was known at the outset. Even so, the journey was entertaining as I looked forward to seeing how the key points in the play would translate into the novel. I couldn’t wait to find out just how Birnam Wood would come to Dunsinane.

Those who choose to listen to the audiorecording of Macbeth should enjoy Euan Morton’s reading. His accent is a lot like Alan Cuming’s with a little more street mixed in which perfect for this story.

Bottom line: I enjoyed this story although much of it took place in a bleak and joyless setting that can get oppressive in large quantities. I’m not sure if readers unfamiliar with Jo Nesbø’s work or the original Macbeth would appreciate it nearly as much as those who are. Also, while Nesbø’s prose is pretty good but in the end, his “The days crawl in the mud, and in the end all they have accomplished is to kill the sun again and bring all men closer to death,” doesn’t hold a candle to:
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

*Quotations are cited from an advanced reading copy and may not be the same as appears in the final published edition. The review was based on an advanced reading copy obtained at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. While this does take any ‘not worth what I paid for it’ statements out of my review, it otherwise has no impact on the content of my review.

FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements:
*5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
*4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.
*3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable.
*2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending.
*1 Star – The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire. ( )
  Unkletom | May 5, 2018 |
Jo Nesbo gives Macbeth a modern spin in this latest entry in the Hogarth Shakespeare retellings. The setting is a decaying industrial city plagued by drugs and crime. Macbeth is the head of the SWAT team, and Lady is the owner of the Inverness, an exclusive casino. When Duncan is selected as the new chief commissioner of police with an anti-corruption agenda, Lady and Macbeth plot to kill him so that Macbeth can become the chief commissioner, because he would do a better job of cleaning up the corruption. Apparently they're of the opinion that the end justifies the means. A reference to Hiroshima and Nagasaki having occurred 25 years earlier places this novel in the 1970s.

I struggled with the first half of the book. I just couldn't buy into the motivation for Duncan's murder, and many of the other parallels also seemed too forced. I found the second half of the book more engaging as events began to play out. This retelling is better than Tracy Chevalier's take on Othello, but it doesn't succeed as well as Margaret Atwood's retelling of The Tempest.

This review is based on an electronic advanced readers copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley. ( )
  cbl_tn | Apr 29, 2018 |
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