Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Macbeth by Jo Nesbo


Macbeth by Jo Nesbo
Published in English language translation by Don Bartlett by Hogarth Press in April 2018

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Check for Macbeth in these bookstores:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

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 convinced he won’t get what is rightfully his.

Unless he kills for it.

Jo Nesbo's retelling of Shakespeare's Macbeth is one of the Hogarth Shakespeare series. I think I have only previously read Tracy Chevalier's New Boy, an Othello retelling, which I enjoyed so I was keen to try Macbeth. I hadn't been particularly enamoured of my first Jo Nesbo crime novel, Nemesis, but in the same way as I prefered Henning Mankell's historical fiction to his Wallander books, I hoped giving Nesbo another try with a different type of novel might endear me more to his writing. Unfortunately this didn't happen. I did quite like Nesbo's portrayal of the bankrupt, drug-addled and corrupt town, but felt this was let down by flat characterisation and lazy stereotyping such as Chinese women having 'inscrutable' eyes. If I hadn't already had a good knowledge of the characters I think I would have struggled to remember who was who in the supporting cast, and there's a missed opportunity with the trans character, Strega.

Nesbo transposes the narrative from kings to a police headquarters while keeping the main plot points so this Macbeth is very much a crime novel. There is political manoeuvring as well as frequent violent murders, a drug lord and a biker gang. For me the biggest problem was that I was never convinced of Macbeth's motivation. A couple of sentences spoken by way of an apparent prophecy and he's suddenly behaving as a very different person from the one that we are repeatedly told he is. It's all rather strange and with an even less credible ending than Shakespeare's. This Macbeth hasn't put me off trying more of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, but I can't see myself reading Nesbo again.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Jo Nesbo / Crime fiction / Books from Norway

12 comments:

  1. Sorry you didn't really like this one. I keep meaning to read one of the Hogarth Shakespeare books though!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. The other I read from this series was good, but I just didn't get on so well with Nesbo's writing

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  2. Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this one more.

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  3. That is ashame, but you gave the author an honest go.

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    1. I did, but after two just-ok books I don't expect to read any more!

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  4. I haven't read Jo Nesbo before but I do know his writing is very popular. I think I have one or two of his books somewhere on my kindle. I do have to say that this one really doesn't appeal to me. Sorry it didn't completely work for you.

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    1. I liked the retelling ideas, but not so much the execution

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  5. Sorry this one let you down. The character's behavior does sound strange.

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    1. Yes, the strangeness works(ish) in the original play, but seemed unbelievably weird in a novel format

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  6. Try 'As I Descended' by Robin Talley - a F/F YA Macbeth retelling which I totally love!

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    1. Thanks for this suggestion! I took a look and have added it to my wishlist. Looks excellent :-)

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