Jo Nesbø Reinvents Macbeth as a Gritty Procedural

The idea of reinventing Macbeth as a gritty, noir-ish procedural sounded quite interesting to me, but I confess I had a very hard time getting into this story. The opening chapters are densely populated with information about the setting, its history, the crime that takes place within it, and (curiously) the passage of a single drop of rain from the sky to the ground. The characters are introduced in medias res, which is very Shakespearean indeed, but without knowing who they are or why we should care they come across as very one dimensional. I wonder if this is a product of the translation since Nesbø is Norwegian. It just feels cold, detached. Certainly, most noirs could be described in similar terms, but in good ones there’s an urgency or morbid fascination that compels the reader to move forward. Even though Nesbø’s Macbeth opens with a bloody drug bust, I felt removed from the action. Shakespeare made Macbeth one of his most complex and suspenseful creations, but Nesbo can’t seem to get it off the ground.

Macbeth Jo Nesbo

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