I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
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.
My enjoyment of this book suffered greatly from a case of bad timing—it came in at the library when I was in the mood for lighter, happier reading. And yet, I’d waited many weeks for it and there were 60 people behind me in line, so I felt duty bound to read it and pass it on. Perhaps I should have returned it and rejoined the line of holds.
Macbeth is a dark, bloody story. Jo Nesbø is expert at dark and bloody plot lines. This is a match made in hell. But I came to realize that when I watch Shakespeare’s version, I am insulated. There are kings and thanes and witches and iambic pentameter, none of which occur in my regular life and I’m able to distance myself from the violence, the blood and the back stabbing. This version, set in a modern town and police department, removed that cotton wool and exposed my nerve endings! During the first third of the book, I had a difficult time picking it back up after a break, because I knew the basic story line and knew that death and destruction were coming. Seeing it in modern terms, with modern weapons, in a current setting somehow made it so much worse and made it so much more relevant to a 21st century reader.
In Nesbø’s version, Macbeth is the successful head of a SWAT team in a town seething with corruption, double dealing and drugs. Everyone is on the take, it seems, if the price is high enough. Macbeth, orphan child, former circus performer, recovering addict, has come up in the world and is poised to go even higher. His love, Lady, has similarly come up from violence and poverty to now own a large and successful casino.
I thought Nesbø’s choice to make Hecate the head of the most successful drug cartel in the town was brilliant, and especially to have three women brewing the drugs. One of these three, Strega (Italian for witch, dontcha know) is Hecate’s main way of communicating with Macbeth and Lady, among others.
Someday, when I’m more in the mood for dark and dangerous, I may take this book on again and see what I make of it the second time around. In the meanwhile, I may check out the National Theatre’s production of the play (starring Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff) later this month at my local movie theatre.