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Macbeth: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

Jo Nesbo
This Study Guide consists of approximately 55 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Macbeth.
This section contains 1,057 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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Macbeth: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

Macbeth: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Macbeth: A Novel by Jo Nesbo .

The following edition of the book was used to create this study guide: Nesbø, Jo. Macbeth. Hogarth Shakespeare, 2018.

It is the 1970's in a dreary, unnamed British industrial city. The city has long been effectively destroyed from within by the corrupt police commissioner, Kenneth, who has now passed away, although he has since been succeeded by the morally upstanding Duncan. The only profitable businesses appear to be two large casinos, the Obelisk and the Inverness, plus the drug traffic run by Sweno (head of the Norse Riders motorcycle gang) and Hecate (individual operator, also based in the Obelisk).

Under the direction of Duncan, two up-and-coming police officers, Macbeth and Duff, help lead an operation that prevents the Norse Riders from receiving a very large shipment of amphetamines. However, they are unable to track down Sweno. Still, Macbeth is promoted to the third-most-powerful position in the police force. Shortly after, Macbeth is told an unlikely prophecy by three bizarre female figures: that he, his older mentor Banquo, and Banquo's son Fleance will all become police commissioner at some point.

Macbeth returns to his residence at the Inverness, where he lives with his girlfriend Lady, an elegant socialite who runs the casino. She convinces Macbeth that Duncan must be murdered in order for Macbeth to become commissioner, since he is best-equipped to lead the city. The couple holds a celebratory party for Macbeth's promotion at the Inverness, but only so that Macbeth has the opportunity to murder Duncan in the night. In order to work up the courage to actually kill Duncan, Macbeth ends years of sobriety, ingesting Hecate's intoxicating drug, brew. Shortly after, Macbeth convinces Banquo to murder Malcolm, who is now the only man standing between Macbeth and the top rank. While it appears that Malcolm has been murdered, and his body dumped in the ocean, Banquo has in fact agreed to let Malcolm flee and live in exile.

Lady and Macbeth grow suspicious of Banquo, and hire the Norse Riders to carry out a hit on Banquo and Fleance. While Banquo is murdered, Fleance is able to escape. At the same time, Macbeth also privately meets with Hecate, who directly supplies Macbeth with an even more addictive drug. At Hecate's command, Macbeth uses his police force to carry out a hit on Duff, who has grown increasingly suspicious of Macbeth. However, the police only kill Duff's wife and two children, not knowing that Duff is not in the house they ambush with machine gun fire. Macbeth then orders the same police force to brutally massacre everyone -- including women and children -- who are at the known hideout of the Norse Riders gang. Macbeth garners incredible public support for both actions by claiming that Duff was a double-agent for the Norse Riders. However, Macbeth is increasingly haunted by visions of the ghost of Banquo, and Lady has a psychotic break as she revisits the trauma of Her teenage years, when her father impregnated her, and she murdered her infant child.

Macbeth now sets his sights on toppling Mayor Tourtell, who is an experienced but relatively harmless politician. At the same time, Duff assumes an alias and finds work on a cargo ship as a cook, knowing the ship will take him to a distant address where he believes Malcolm and Fleance may be in hiding. In the city, Macbeth tests the loyalty of a high-ranking detective, Lennox, by ordering him to kill another increasingly suspicious policeman, Angus. Lennox "passes" the test, committing the murder alongside Macbeth's increasingly violent henchman, Seyton.

On the advice of Lady, Macbeth now tries to kill Hecate, arranging a meeting with him at the Obelisk while bringing a suitcase that contains gold bars and a timed bomb. However, at the appointed time, Hecate is at the Inverness, knowingly talking with Lady, and Macbeth barely escapes the Obelisk before the timed bomb explodes the top floor of the building. Duff, Malcolm, and Fleance return to the city and hatch a plan -- along with Caithness, a colleague of theirs in the forensics department -- of how to kill Macbeth. They lure Macbeth into a dark, narrow alley by saying that the body of Fleance has been found there, and Macbeth is the only person who can identify it. Duff is able to get Macbeth at gunpoint, but Macbeth escapes when he is pulled to safety by an unseen figure.

Macbeth sends Lennox and Seyton to bring Mayor Tourtell to safety after a reported assassination threat. However, Lennox and Seyton are, in fact, carrying out Macbeth's scheme to murder the mayor. However, at the last moment, Lennox decides to foil the plan, stepping in front of the sightline of the sniper Olafson. Olafson fires anyway, and the shot paralyzes Lennox from the waist down. In the chaos after the shot, the Mayor is able to be brought to safety, but his son, Kasi, is taken hostage by Seyton. Macbeth calls the mayor and tries to extort political power from him, but Tourtell decides that it is worth sacrificing Kasi to prevent such a thing from happening.

Macbeth, Seyton, and Olafson (along with the imprisoned Kasi) begin stockpiling ammo in the Inverness, where Macbeth discovers that Lady has died of a drug overdose. Across the street, in the central train station, an improvised militia begins assembling under the leadership of Malcolm and Duff, as the citizens of the town have now turned on Macbeth. As the sun rises, a gunfight breaks out between the two sides, with Macbeth and his two men winning the early fight thanks to their superior weapons and position. However, Duff and the militia begin to chip away at the base that holds up the old locomotive Bertha. Eventually the base is chipped away enough that the train begins to violently grind its way out of the station, across the street, and crashing through the doors of the Inverness. With Seyton and Olafson dead, Duff then personally kills Macbeth. Also, Lennox sacrifices himself on a suicide mission into Hecate's drug-brewing kitchen, throwing a grenade that kills both himself and Hecate. While Malcolm, as the police commissioner, is able to lead the city in a prosperous direction over the next several years, Sweno and Hecate's right-hand man, Bonus, eventually meet and plan to launch a new drug-selling operation.

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