Macbeth by Jo Nesbø review – Shakespeare reimagined

Scandinavia’s king of crime turns the tragedy into a deliciously oppressive page-turner

The Hogarth Shakespeare project invites modern novelists to reimagine some of his most celebrated plays. After such entries as Howard Jacobson’s take on The Merchant of Venice, Shylock Is My Name, and Dunbar, Edward St Aubyn’s King Lear, we now have a Macbeth by the king of Scandi-noir crime, Jo Nesbø. It turns out to be rather an inspired choice: the bloody tragedy of political ambition translates well to a corrupt police department in a lawless town, where the cops are just one more armed gang.

The Scottish play is here transplanted to a geographically agnostic place that mixes terms of Scottish and Scandinavian origin (the area is Fife, the sharpshooter named Olafson), along with allegorical touches: the capital city is known simply as the Capitol. But we spend most of our time in ...