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Macbeth
Cover of Macbeth
Macbeth
William Shakespeare's Macbeth Retold: A Novel
by Jo Nesbo
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NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018
Shakespeare’s dark and tragic play retold in a heart-pounding New York Times bestselling thriller from the author of The Snowman and The Thirst.

 
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.
NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018
Shakespeare’s dark and tragic play retold in a heart-pounding New York Times bestselling thriller from the author of The Snowman and The Thirst.

 
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.
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  • From the cover The man hadn’t shown himself for months, but only one person owned that helmet and the red Indian Chief motorbike. Rumour had it the bike was one of fifty the New York Police Department had manufactured in total secrecy in 1955. The steel of the curved scabbard attached to its side shone.
     
    Sweno.
     
    Some claimed he was dead, others that he had fled the country, that he had changed his identity, cut off his blond plaits and was sitting on a terrazza in Argentina enjoying his old age and pencil-thin cigarillos.
     
    But here he was. The leader of the gang and the cop-killer who, along with his sergeant, had started up the Norse Riders some time after the Second World War. They had picked rootless young men, most of them from dilapidated factory-worker houses along the sewage-fouled river, and trained them, disciplined them, brainwashed them until they were an army of fearless soldiers Sweno could use for his own purposes. To gain control of the town, to monopolise the growing dope market. And for a while it had looked as if Sweno would succeed, certainly Kenneth and police HQ hadn’t stopped him; rather the opposite, Sweno had bought in all the help he needed. It was the competition. Hecate’s home-made dope, brew, was much better, cheaper and always readily available on the market. But if the anonymous tip-off Duff had received was right, this consignment was big enough to solve the Norse Riders’ supply problems for some time. Duff had hoped, but not quite believed, what he read in the brief typewritten lines addressed to him was true. It was simply too much of a gift horse. The sort of gift that – if handled correctly – could send the head of the Narco Unit further up the ladder. Chief Commissioner Duncan still hadn’t filled all the important positions at police HQ with his own people. There was, for example, the Gang Unit, where Kenneth’s old rogue Inspector Cawdor had managed to hang on to his seat as they still had no concrete evidence of corruption, but that could only be a question of time. And Duff was one of Duncan’s men. When there were signs that Duncan might be appointed chief commissioner Duff had rung him in Capitol and clearly, if somewhat pompously, stated that if the council didn’t make Duncan the new commissioner, and chose one of Kenneth’s henchmen instead, Duff would resign. It was not beyond the bounds of possibility that Duncan had suspected a personal motive behind this unconditional declaration of loyalty, but so what? Duff had a genuine desire to support Duncan’s plan for an honest police force that primarily served the people, he really did. But he also wanted an office at HQ as close to heaven as possible. Who wouldn’t? And he wanted to cut off the head of the man out there.
     
    Sweno.
     
    He was the means and the end.
     
    Duff looked at his watch. The time tallied with what was in the letter, to the minute. He rested the tips of his fingers on the inside of his wrist. To feel his pulse. He was no longer hoping, he was about to become a believer.
     
    “Are there many of them, Duff?” a voice whispered.
     
    “More than enough for great honour, Seyton. And one of them’s so big, when he falls, it’ll be heard all over the country.”

    Duff cleaned the condensation off the window. Ten nervous, sweaty police officers in a small room. Men who didn’t usually get this type of assignment. As head of the Narco Unit it was Duff alone who had taken the decision not to show the letter to other officers; he was using only men from his unit for...
About the Author-
  • JO NESBO is a musician, songwriter, and economist, as well as a writer. His Harry Hole novels include The Snowman, The Leopard, and Phantom and he is the author of several stand-alone novels, including The Son, as well as the Doctor Proctor series of children's books. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Glass Key for best Nordic crime novel.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 29, 2018
    In this ambitious entry in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, bestseller Nesbø (The Thirst and 10 other Harry Hole novels) transmutes Macbeth into a crime novel set in 1970s Scotland. Macbeth heads the SWAT team in a dreary city called Capitol, determined to take down criminal gangs and to clean up the corrupt local government, a goal shared by Duncan, Capitol’s upstanding police chief. But local drug kingpin Hecate wants to be rid of Duncan and schemes to put Macbeth, something of an outsider and an addict to a drug called “brew,” in charge. Hecate sends Macbeth three sisters (the witches in Shakespeare’s original), who foretell his future: that he will be head of the Organised Crime Unit and then chief commissioner. Macbeth is promoted to the first post by Duncan, and “Lady,” Macbeth’s consort and a local casino magnate, has the manipulative wiles to ensure Macbeth does whatever it takes to eliminate Duncan and rule the city. The themes will resonate well with contemporary readers, but, at nearly 500 pages, the story feels bloated. It’s a clever reengineering of one of Shakespeare’s great tragedies, but may disappoint Nesbø’s fan base.

  • AudioFile Magazine It's disappointing to report that this entry in this intriguing series of Shakespeare plots rewritten by modern masters just doesn't work, at least in this audio version. Narrator Euan Morton's use of an aggressively glottal Scottish accent for the entire text, not just dialogue, distracts from the narrative badly. Worse, Nesbo's strength is noir thriller plotting, and this plot is not his. He's made Macbeth, Banquo, and the rest into police detectives jockeying for career advancement while at war with a drug lord called Hecate. The weird sisters are junkie hookers, okay fine, but can you call Macbeth's girlfriend "Lady" without laughing? Nesbo's tale is a murder story, but Shakespeare's is a tragedy of a human condition, and Morton certainly doesn't help Nesbo approach that. B.G. � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
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Jo Nesbo
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