Jo Nesbo is one of my absolute favourite authors. It was actually Jo Nesbo and his detective creation, Harry Hole, who got me hooked on reading thrillers. So when I saw he had a new book out – Macbeth – I couldn’t wait to read it.
But then I started Macbeth and I got confused. The setting wasn’t the familiar Norwegian location. It felt a bit apocalyptic, with a town divided into four districts. But then it mentioned Inverness and Fife. Maybe it was set in Scotland?
After about 50 pages, I happened to flick to the back of the book and discovered that the book is actually a modern-day rewrite of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. So that made a lot of sense. I love reading, as you know, but I’m not that well-read in the sense of literature. I don’t know the story of Macbeth at all, so I couldn’t tell you how faithful it is to the original.
Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth is set in a lawless town, dominated by a casino and rival drug dealers. Macbeth himself is a senior police officer, whose career is on the rise. He is also a drug user and a murderer.
I’ll be honest, I got fed up with this book, but I still saw it through to the end, because I’ve never given up on a book yet. The corruption and endless murders just didn’t seem believable. And where was the forensic evidence?! I’ve watched enough detective series on TV and read enough thrillers to know about forensic evidence.
It took me absolutely ages to read this book – partly because I wasn’t enjoying it and partly because it’s 600 pages long. I’m afraid that, despite the fact that I love Jo Nesbo, I will not be recommending this book to anyone, unless you love Shakespeare and are interested to know how Macbeth could work in a modern-day setting.
If you’re interested in the concept, a number of authors have retold Shakespeare’s stories, including Margaret Atwood (The Tempest), Gillian Flynn (Hamlet) and Jeanette Winterson (The Winter’s Tale).
And if you’re looking for a really good thriller, I would recommend any of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole novels.