FICTION

Macbeth

Hogarth: Crown. Apr. 2018. 464p. tr. from Norwegian by Don Bartlett. ISBN 9780553419054. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780553419061. F
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In the latest retelling in the Hogarth "Shakespeare" series, internationally best-selling Nesb sets his version of Shakespeare's Scottish play in the 1970s in a former industrial town where the factories have long been shut down and crime and drugs are now the main industry. The new police commissioner, Duncan, has vowed to clean up the town, including taking on drug lord Hecate, who manufactures the highly addictive Brew. Both the head of the Narco Unit, Duff, and the head of SWAT, Macbeth, have been tipped off about the arrival of a large drug shipment for Sweno, Hecate's competitor, and are staking out the location. This scene launches the political and bloody battles that take place over the next 500 pages. Macbeth and Duff jockey for power, with Macbeth supported by fellow police officer Banquo and casino owner and lover Lady. As Macbeth and Lady use Brew, provided by Hecate, their paranoia and ambition increases, along with the body count. Now it's up to Duff and Malcolm to stop them.
VERDICT Nesb's usual skill at writing gripping crime novels with compelling protagonists is not on display here. His Shakespeare retelling has a forced story line and characters who are not nearly as memorable as in the original. [See Prepub Alert, 10/9/17.]

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