#1 New York Times bestselling author Jo Nesbø retells Macbeth, one of Shakespeare’s darkest and most tragic plays.

Set in the 1970s in a run-down, rainy industrial town, Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth centers around a police force struggling to shed an incessant drug problem. Duncan, chief of police, is idealistic and visionary, a dream to the townspeople but a nightmare for criminals. The drug trade is ruled by two drug lords, one of whom — a master of manipulation named Hecate — has connections with the highest in power, and plans to use them to get his way.

Hecate’s plot hinges on steadily, insidiously manipulating Inspector Macbeth: the head of SWAT and a man already susceptible to violent and paranoid tendencies. What follows is an unputdownable story of love and guilt, political ambition, and greed for more, exploring the darkest corners of human nature, and the aspirations of the criminal mind.


  • “Inventive and deeply satisfying /.../ [Nesbo] offers a dark but ultimately hopeful Macbeth, one suited to our troubled times. /.../ Nesbo is the greatest contemporary writer of the thriller”

    James Shapiro, The New York Times Book Review, US

  • “[A] crack storyteller put[s] his noir stamp on one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies. /.../ Nesbo manages the balancing act of being true to the original play without slighting his own interests as a writer: bleak settings, loyalty (or the lack thereof) among crooks, clever escapes from tight spots, the affinities between policemen and the criminals they chase.”

    Washington Post, US

  • “Nesbø infuses the mythic elements of the tragedy with bold strokes of horrific, Don Winslow–like drug-war realism. The result displays in a strikingly original way both the timelessness of Shakespeare’s art and the suppleness of noir to range well beyond the strictures of formula.”

    Booklist *Starred Review*, US

  • Macbeth is a modern-day drug-war, power-struggle, double-cross, lawmen-versus-gangsters recast of Shakespeare’s Scottish play.”

    Associated Press, US

  • Macbeth perfectly pairs a modern master of crime fiction with Shakespeare’s bloody tragedy. While retaining most of the original character names from Macbeth, Nesbo masterfully crafts fully fleshed players from each original role to present a visceral, contemporary exploration of ambition and corruption.”

    Bookpage, US

  • “Nesbø has adhered to his contract, delivering a book that plays off of Shakespeare's work but succeeds as his own.”, US

  • “Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth is superb. /.../ I read the last 200 pages in one long, eye-blinding binge. Save this one for a long weekend with no interruptions. Outstanding... /.../ Characters so complex /.../ It moves like gangbusters. /.../ Nesbo's characters are so rich that they can carry it all to the end. As Duff teams with the insurgents to end Macbeth's reign, Lady begins her spiral downward and it's even better written by Nesbo than by Shakespeare, possibly because a mad madam may just make for better drama.”

    The Globe and Mail, Canada

  • “Majestically satisfying /.../ a deliciously oppressive page-turner”

    The Guardian, UK

  • “Nesbo makes excellent use of all the atmosphere of his genre, and the stakes at play are every bit as convincing as those in the original.”

    The Independent, UK

  • “[A] gripping tale of vaulting ambition and proof that “blood will have blood”.”

    Evening Standard, UK

  • “It is no easy task taking on the greatest English writer of all time and turning one of his best-loved plays into a thriller for the modern reader. Yet this is what Jo Nesbø attempts with Macbeth and the result is an immensely enjoyable and gloriously dark novel. /.../ a tremendously satisfying read. Nesbø's Macbeth stands comfortably as a thriller in its own right and would deservedly grace the bestsellers list with or without the Shakespeare connection. He has accomplished that toughest of literary feats: putting his own unmistakable mark on one of Shakespeare's most celebrated plays.”

    Daily Express, UK

  • “A bracing blend of spaghetti Western, dystopian sci-fi and Elizabethan tragedy /.../ this is certainly an imaginative and powerful adaptation, and one that will likely please fans of the Harry Hole novels.”

    Irish Times, Ireland

  • “Tremendous! /.../ A crime writer in cahoots with the greatest playwright in the history of literature. Could that end well? Oh, yes!”


    Verdens Gang, Norway

  • “Another triumph for Nesbø. /.../ Macbeth appears as a fascinatingly complex character, and Nesbø manages to make the readers identify themselves with the protagonist, despite his unsympathetic and destructive tendencies. Nesbø succeeds, in an almost startling way, with Macbeth. On the one hand, it’s an effective, even humorous, thriller. On the other hand, it’s a bittersweet story about broken people bound together by a force stronger than life in an apocalyptic Hell-on-Earth setting.”


    Adresseavisen, Norway

  • “Jo Nesbø + Shakespeare = pure dynamite. /.../ Sometimes, giants rise only to show how big they are. That is what Jo Nesbø has done with his mighty Macbeth, a pure tour de force from Norway’s by far most successful crime writer. /.../ As always, the story-telling is fast-paced. Nesbø writes better than most thriller writers, the language and the phrasing are exuberant and delivered with precision, the character portrayals (both raw and vulnerable) are established from the very first sentence, the flashbacks are interwoven with such skill that the reader never loses track of the story, and the plot is explosive from start to finish.”


    Stavanger Aftenblad, Norway

  • “World-class writing. Jo Nesbø at his best. /.../ Nesbø has once again written a damn good book, a delicious crime novel!”


    Fædrelandsvennen, Norway

  • “Masterful Macbeth. Jo Nesbø delivers an apocalyptic Shakespearian drama, hot like a fever. /.../ The result is magnificent. /.../ Readers who have never heard of Shakespeare will read this novel as a pure, suspenseful crime novel. To the contemporary audience, Nesbø’s references may as well be from Frank Miller’s Sin City or one of the epic gangster operas by Martin Scorsese or Sergio Leone.”


    Dagbladet, Norway

  • “Nesbø expertly handles the task. Not only does the author succeed in making the four-hundred-year-old piece relevant to our time, but faithful readers of Nesbø will recognize the police milieu from the Harry Hole series in this novel as well. And just like those novels, Macbeth is about crimes that must stay hidden. /.../ Nesbø’s Macbeth hits the zeitgeist by transforming Shakespeare’s drama into a struggle between modern ideologies. The book also depicts how intrigue, madness, and fear are used as powerful tools by those who wish desperately to remain in power. Many aspects of Nesbø’s Macbeth calls to mind the current situation in the U.S., as well as the political debate in Norway. Shakespeare and Nesbø share a common theme: human worth.”


    Bergens Tidende, Norway

  • “Jo Nesbø has turned Macbeth into a hard-boiled and suspenseful story about a highly corrupt town where blood flows freely and the ever-falling raindrops from the black sky mix with the blood in the streets. /.../ The characters, the cities, the struggle for power, and the madness are portrayed with an apparent love for the original work and by the skilled hand of a professional. /.../ Jo Nesbø’s Macbeth is certainly a Nesbø novel, but within the framework of Shakespeare. Nesbø’s hardcore fans will love it, and I also believe that other readers will embrace it as a self-sufficient and solid novel from someone who does his job well, and has taken on the assignment with humility, respect, and a playful smile.”


    Bok 365, Norway

  • “Brilliant interpretation of Macbeth /.../ [A] shattering and gripping read, frighteningly well-constructed and outstandingly well-written.”


    Jyllands-Posten, Denmark

  • “First and foremost, the story is extremely suspenseful /.../ The descriptions of the characters, most of them burdened by past sins and trauma, are masterful and realistic. This novel, as well as Nesbø's other ones, cannot be recommended enough.”

    Litteratursiden, Denmark

  • “It is an elegant revision and interpretation of Shakespeare’s grand royal drama. Brutally suspenseful /.../ The book is nothing short of a tour de force and a terrifying journey into the darkest domains of humanity.”


    Nordjyske Stiftstidende, Denmark

  • “[Nesbø’s] brutal version of Macbeth is brilliant and he cultivates the depths in the original drama”

    Sydsvenskan, Sweden

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  • Crime
Reading material

English edition

Norwegian edition

Rights sold

Brazil, Record

Bulgaria, Emas

Canada, Penguin Random House

Catalonia, Raval Edicions

China, Penguin Group (Simplified Chinese)

Croatia, Fokus

Czech Republic, Prah

Denmark, Modtryk

Finland, Johnny Kniga

France, Gallimard

Germany, Random House

Greece, Metaixmio

Hungary, Kossuth Kiadó

Israel, Babel

Italy, Rizzoli Libri

Korea, Hyundae Munhak

Lithuania, Baltos Lankos

Netherlands, Uitgeverij Nijgh & Van Ditmar

Poland, Dolnoslaskie

Portugal, Bertrand Editora

Romania, S.C. Humanitas

Russia, Eksmo

Serbia, Laguna

Slovakia, Prah

Slovenia, Didakta

Spain, Mondadori

Sweden, Wahlström & Widstrand

Taiwan, Solo Press (Complex Chinese)

Turkey, Dogan

Ukraine, Krajina Mriy

UK, Hogarth

US, Knopf

More from Jo Nesbø

Harry Hole

Doctor Proctor

Blood on Snow