A Simple Plan

A Simple Plan

Two brothers and their friend stumble upon the wreckage of a plane–the pilot is dead and his duffle bag contains four million dollars in cash. In order to hide, keep, and share the fortune, these ordinary men all agree to a simple plan....

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Title:A Simple Plan
Author:Scott B. Smith
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A Simple Plan Reviews

  • Kemper

    When it comes to Scott B. Smith it’s a good thing we got the quality because the quantity is on the low side with only

    released since this one came out in 1993.

    Hank Mitchell is a regular guy living in rural Ohio with his pregnant wife Sarah and a steady job as an accountant at a feed store. He isn’t close to his brother Jacob who is a high school dropout that spends most of his time drunk when not scrounging out a living. One of the few times they interact is their regular New Year’s

    When it comes to Scott B. Smith it’s a good thing we got the quality because the quantity is on the low side with only

    released since this one came out in 1993.

    Hank Mitchell is a regular guy living in rural Ohio with his pregnant wife Sarah and a steady job as an accountant at a feed store. He isn’t close to his brother Jacob who is a high school dropout that spends most of his time drunk when not scrounging out a living. One of the few times they interact is their regular New Year’s Eve visit to the graves of their parents. While taking care of this annual obligation they’re going to drop off Jacob’s drinking buddy Lou before heading to the cemetery when a freak accident leads the three men to the discovery of a small plane that has crashed in the snowy woods. Along with a dead pilot they find a bag with over four million dollars in it.

    Hank’s first instinct is to turn in the money to the cops, but Lou and Jacob want to keep it. Tempted but worried that the two men will do something stupid to draw attention to them, Hank will only agree if he holds the cash until the plane is eventually discovered once the snow melts. If no one is looking for the money after the plane is found, they’ll split it up and go their separate ways.

    Anybody think this is going to end well?

    This is one of my favorite crime novels and a prime example of what I consider to be noir. What starts as the kind of decision that many (Most?) people would make is the first step towards suspicion and betrayal that finds Hank constantly reevaluating his relationship with his estranged brother. That’s about all I want to reveal to anyone who hasn’t read it, but if you like dark stories about the lengths seemingly ordinary people will go to when they see a chance to change their lives, give this one a try.

    It was also turned into a very good movie adaptation with Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton that has significant plot differences that make it a surprising watch even if you’ve read the book.

    A few more thoughts for those who have read it.

  • Steve

    I heard a story once about a Holocaust survivor who attended the trial at Nuremburg of the Nazi who commanded the camp in which he was a prisoner. When the defendant was brought in, the Jewish man became hysterical and had to be dragged out of the courtroom. People assumed that seeing the Nazi's face again had simply brought back memories too horrific for the man to bear. He later explained that he'd lost his composure because he saw, for the first time, that this Nazi was not some fire-breathin

    I heard a story once about a Holocaust survivor who attended the trial at Nuremburg of the Nazi who commanded the camp in which he was a prisoner. When the defendant was brought in, the Jewish man became hysterical and had to be dragged out of the courtroom. People assumed that seeing the Nazi's face again had simply brought back memories too horrific for the man to bear. He later explained that he'd lost his composure because he saw, for the first time, that this Nazi was not some fire-breathing monster, but just a man, like anyone else. Without the SS uniform, his humanity was laid bare. The Nazi could've been him; the Nazi could've been anyone.

    This incident illustrates why Scott Smith's novel "A Simple Plan" is unquestionably the scariest book I've ever read. By far more frightening than anything written by Stephen King, Dean Koontz or even Thomas Harris, "A Simple Plan" touches on an uncomfortable but real truth in life: we're all basically bad, posessing an almost infinite capacity for evil. All we need to find out how bad we can be is the right motivation: anger, lust, greed, jealousy, etc.

    For Hank, the novel's main protagonist, the motivation is greed, then fear. Hank is a midwestern accountant with a wife and a baby on the way, a real swell fella, anyone would agree. One Winter day, Hank takes a ride with his no-account brother, Jacob, and Jacob's pal, Lou. An accident sends the three trudging off into the woods, where they happen upon a small airplane that has crashed and been covered over with snow. Inside, they find a dead pilot and a gym bag, which happens to contain around $4 million. The men figure the money is from a drug deal or a robbery. Hank, the upstanding citizen of the group, insists on calling the authorities immediately. Jacob and Lou, however, want to hang onto the cash. Eventually, Hank agrees, but on one condition: they sit on the money for six months - if nothing is heard of it by Summer, they'll split the loot and go their separate ways. It seems painfully simple, but Hank doesn't take into account his brother's impulsive stupidity, or Lou's desperate need to have his share RIGHT NOW. The failings of his partners in crime, as well as his own fear of being caught, send Hank into a downward spiral as the situation gets bad, then worse, then really super-deluxe worse. Toward the end, when Hank is driven to extremes by his own wife's carelessness, the money becomes almost irrelevant.

    In a real stroke of genius, Smith tells the entire story from Hank's point of view, giving the reader unencumbered access to Hank's tortured psyche. You find yourself almost relating and understanding when Hank tells himself that the theft is justifiable, then when he graduates to blackmail and murder.

    A movie version of this story was made in 1998; it's absorbing, suspenseful and at times unforgettable. All the same, it's inferior to the novel, particularly in the second half. The ending in the film, while tragic and horrifying in its own right, doesn't even come close to the ending in the book, which may stay with me for the rest of my life.

    I found "A Simple Plan" at the discount table at the mall in 1995. The dust jacket preview seemed vaguely interesting, so I plucked down my $3.99 and took it home, expecting to read it over the Summer. I finished it two days later, at about 3:00 in the morning. It's that engrossing, and thought-provoking. At one point, Hank's wife, who turns out to be more ruthless than anyone else, says to him: "No one would ever think you'd be capable of doing what you've done." That brilliant line is the entire book in a nutshell.

  • Richard

    I find it hilarious whenever I see negative reviews for this book and almost all the time, the reason for the negativity is that the reviewer thought that the main characters were stupid and made dumb decisions. If characters always made the right decisions or the smartest ones, there would be absolutely no drama and why the hell would anyone want to read about people who do all the right things?!

    I think this was a wonderful story about how all of us are capable of terrible things if circumstanc

    I find it hilarious whenever I see negative reviews for this book and almost all the time, the reason for the negativity is that the reviewer thought that the main characters were stupid and made dumb decisions. If characters always made the right decisions or the smartest ones, there would be absolutely no drama and why the hell would anyone want to read about people who do all the right things?!

    I think this was a wonderful story about how all of us are capable of terrible things if circumstances were there, such as greed, fear, the need to survive, or simply by just making BAD DECISIONS. These elements are all parts of the essence of noir, and that's why I consider this book one of the best examples of modern noir.

    Three friends stumble upon millions of dollars and decide to keep it and not tell the authorities. That one decision begins a terrible domino effect that leads to dire consequences. It's like a classic tragedy where the end is inevitable.

    Great book! Tightly written with great pacing!

  • Arah-Lynda

    If a poll were taken, I wonder how many of us could confirm that they had passed tests of honesty.  You know those little tests.  A twenty dollar bill found laying about somewhere and you know who left it there,  A found wallet, fat with cash or a purse left sitting on a display table while you were shopping.  

    I remember finding a twenty dollar bill laying in the ditch, when I was just a kid.  Of course I gave it to my parents, not even fully aware yet of the real value of my find.  I’m sure the

    If a poll were taken, I wonder how many of us could confirm that they had passed tests of honesty.  You know those little tests.  A twenty dollar bill found laying about somewhere and you know who left it there,  A found wallet, fat with cash or a purse left sitting on a display table while you were shopping.  

    I remember finding a twenty dollar bill laying in the ditch, when I was just a kid.  Of course I gave it to my parents, not even fully aware yet of the real value of my find.  I’m sure they kept it, but much later in life an interoffice envelope ( remember those) was left in my mail slot, mine being the last name added.  When I opened it I knew immediately that someone had inadvertently sent me the cash collected from a hockey pool.  Hell I wasn’t even in it.  There must have been somewhere over a hundred dollars in there.  I wasn’t really sure who was collecting that week, but a couple of questions later and the die hard hockey fans steered me in the right direction and the envelope made its way back into the right hands.

    But as I said these are little tests, how I wonder would I respond if the payoff was a lot bigger?

    Well Hank Mitchell, his brother Jacob and Jacob’s friend Lou are given just that opportunity when they accidently come across a small aircraft that has crashed in the woods on the outskirts of their Ohio community.  On further inspection they find a dead pilot and a duffle bag containing 4.4 million dollars.  Snow is expected to fall over the next few hours effectively covering their tracks.  They could take the money and no-one would be the wiser.  As an added precaution they agree that they won’t spend any of it right away but instead wait and come spring, once the plane is discovered and after all the hullaballoo dies down they can split  it equally and take off for parts unknown.  If at any point they feel that they are at risk of being discovered they will simply burn the money.  No harm no foul.  

    A simple plan right.  What could possibly go wrong?  

    Scott Smith is here to answer that question and he does so brilliantly.  The story is told through the perspective of Hank, the keeper of the cash.  Can he trust Jacob and Lou who both drink too much and are out of work, to stick to the plan and keep the secret?  

    Through Hank’s narration the reader is privy not only to what happens next but also Hank’s mind set as time passes and doubts and anxieties increase among the principal party of three who by this time number five as Hank has told his wife and Lou his girlfriend. 

    Watching what plays out over the course of the next few weeks from the comfort of my armchair is like watching a train wreck.  You simply cannot look away.  

    I’ll not say anymore.  Trust me let Scott Smith tell you this story.  He does so very well.

  • Char

    I liked this book a lot!

    It was very easy to identify with Hank, the protagonist of this story. Imagine that you and your two siblings find a bag full of money in a plane that crashed that no one has yet discovered. Would you keep it or not? That is the gist of this story.

    Just think about how one simple lie in your life could spiral out of control...into more lies and things MUCH worse than that, even. That's exactly what happened here, It was very easy to take the next step with Hank, and then t

    I liked this book a lot!

    It was very easy to identify with Hank, the protagonist of this story. Imagine that you and your two siblings find a bag full of money in a plane that crashed that no one has yet discovered. Would you keep it or not? That is the gist of this story.

    Just think about how one simple lie in your life could spiral out of control...into more lies and things MUCH worse than that, even. That's exactly what happened here, It was very easy to take the next step with Hank, and then the next, and so on. At first, the reader feels sorry for him, but not for long as he tangles himself up further and further by the minute. The last quarter of this book turned into a nightmare from which I could not pull myself away. I did feel that the last scenes slightly stepped over the line of believability and for that I deducted one star.

    Overall, I enjoyed this story quite a bit and would recommend it to anyone that enjoys a fast paced thriller with some blood and gore. Good times, good times.

  • Maciek

    Reading this novel is like watching a trainwreck taking place: you know it's terrible, you know you shouldn't do it, but somehow you can't look away from it taking place; its as if your eyes have been glued to the train and carriages, losing touch with the track, falling out, being squashed and destroyed, all with the incredibly loud and draining sound of screeching and bending metal. You look at the solid, rectangular shapes being transformed into crushed masses of steel, thrown around like the

    Reading this novel is like watching a trainwreck taking place: you know it's terrible, you know you shouldn't do it, but somehow you can't look away from it taking place; its as if your eyes have been glued to the train and carriages, losing touch with the track, falling out, being squashed and destroyed, all with the incredibly loud and draining sound of screeching and bending metal. You look at the solid, rectangular shapes being transformed into crushed masses of steel, thrown around like they were miniature toys, as if some invisible God took to them in a moment of incredible and hopeless fury.

    The title of the book accurately describes its premise: In winter, three men stumble upon a wreckage of a small plane in the woods outside their city. Curious, they decide to investigate: one of the men peers inside, and sees that the pilot is dead. He notices a small duffle bag near the body, and takes it out. Of course, they open it and peer inside: what they find is 4,4 million dollars in packets of hundred dollar bills. They make a decision to keep the money; all agree on a simple plan to do nothing and just wait for six months and see if anyone would be looking for the money when the plane is discovered in spring. If not, then they will split it adequately and quietly leave town; if yes, the money will be burned to keep them out of trouble. Nothing to lose, but a lot to gain.

    is narrated in the first person by Hank Mitchell, an accountant, husband, and soon to be father. His partners in crime are Jacob, his brother, and Lou, their mutual acquaintance. The setting is a small town of Ashenville, Northern Ohio. As one involved with money on a daily basis, Hank takes charge and takes the bag, intending to keep it. He'll either split it after six months, if there's no mention of missing money anywhere, or burn it immediately if there is. Only it's never this easy, is it? Another allegory with which the novel can be described is a domino sequence, one which goes through a spiral, lower and lower. The decision to keep the money is knocking over the first piece of the domino; the rest will soon follow.

    There is an incredible feeling of bleak hopelesness in this novel, right from the first sentence, where Hank describes the dreadful death of his parents in a car accident. Although he is married and lives comfortably well with an attractive wife, with whom he is expecting their first child, there is a general aura of unhappiness about him and the whole town of Ashfield. The greyness and mundanity of the region, where seemingly nothing happens, at least nothing of importance. Everything irrevocable changes for the three men when they decide to take the bag; they are now on something together, are a part of a scheme, even if it involves doing nothing at all. However, they have set something in motion; The butterfly has flapped its wings, the wind has been stirred.

    The first person narration allows the reader almost unlimited access to Hank's mind. We're both able and limited to seeing things the way he sees them. We see how he makes decision after decision, how he tries to find a best way out of the situations he find himself in, and how he tries to rationalize and justify his actions. It becomes obvious that

    is not a simple thriller, as it might suggest, but a quite complex moral tale; where each decision has multiple consequences, each complicating the events further.

    An Amazon reviewer called the novel "macbeth in Midwest", and the comparison is very apt. It also reminded me of one of my favorite old movies, "The Treasure of Sierra Madre", which is notable for having Humphrey Bogart in his only role as an unlikable character. The plot of the novel is simple enough, but what makes it unique is that it gives us a chance to see inside the mind of a person whose life has been completely turned upside down in one moment, and see how far he is going to go as the situation develops. These characters are people who could be you or me; they just happened to be in one place at a certain time. It could happen to any of us; Scott Smith doesn't build a complex mystery, or center his book around action scenes. Its plot is simple - three guys find a bag full of money. Its tension almost entirely inside the mind. It's the mind that is most fascinating in this novel, the mind of Hank, his wife, his brother and Lou. What will they do with the bag? What would you do?

    is a stylish debut in the vein of Dennis Lehane, unique, complex and memorable. I could barely put it down as I was reading it, and it will stay with me for a long time. It is simply so relatable; it is impossible not to relate to the characters and their discovery, not to put yourself in their place, wondering what would you do in their situation. This is what makes it terrifying. As Hank says: "'It all makes sense. It all happened one thing after the other."

  • Jeff

    If you found four million dollars, what choices would you make? Keep it?, Return it?

    What if there were two others with you when you found it and you were always the odd man out in your little group, yet were suddenly handed over the controls? How would it change you? Are you up to the responsibility?

    One of the other two people is your brother, but he’s weak and unreliable and the other is a gambler and a drunk. Can you trust them?

    If you keep the money, how far would you go not to give it up? Wou

    If you found four million dollars, what choices would you make? Keep it?, Return it?

    What if there were two others with you when you found it and you were always the odd man out in your little group, yet were suddenly handed over the controls? How would it change you? Are you up to the responsibility?

    One of the other two people is your brother, but he’s weak and unreliable and the other is a gambler and a drunk. Can you trust them?

    If you keep the money, how far would you go not to give it up? Would you lie, cheat, possibly kill?

    What makes this an effective thriller is that all of these questions are addressed at one time or another by the narrator and choices are made based on the given circumstances. The narrator tries to deal with the fallout from his decisions - rationalize his actions and bury the guilt. Coping and trying to move on, making excuses, but always with the memory of heinous acts just below the surface. What pulls you in is that this is an average Joe taking a route that you might take if confronted with the same challenges.

  • Dan Schwent

    Hank and Jacob Mitchell and Jacob's friend Lloyd find a crashed plane in the woods. The pilot is dead but he has a duffel bag with 4.4 million dollars in it. The three men agree to sit on the money until they're sure no one is looking for it. But can they keep their mouthes shut? And what will happen when someone talks?

    A Simple Plan is the story of three men in a difficult situation that quickly escalates into violence. The underlying theme seems to be how one lie inevitably leads to one more.

    Th

    Hank and Jacob Mitchell and Jacob's friend Lloyd find a crashed plane in the woods. The pilot is dead but he has a duffel bag with 4.4 million dollars in it. The three men agree to sit on the money until they're sure no one is looking for it. But can they keep their mouthes shut? And what will happen when someone talks?

    A Simple Plan is the story of three men in a difficult situation that quickly escalates into violence. The underlying theme seems to be how one lie inevitably leads to one more.

    The main characters are fairly complex. Hank wants to protect his brother but also wants the money. Jacob wants to buy back his parents' farm with the money but he also wants to please his brother. Lloyd needs the money to pay back some gambling debts and can't wait six months. See where this is going?

    Once things start going off the rails, they continue going off the rails for the rest of the book. The first murder is just the tip of the bloody iceberg. How much killing does it take to cover up one murder? Quite a few, it turns out.

    Scott Smith's writing packs quite a punch. It's a cut above most thrillers and really makes me wish he wrote more than just this and The Ruins. Much like the Ruins, I wasn't sure how any of the characters would live much longer at the 50% mark.

    The series of revelations near the end spell out the book's message: Crime doesn't pay. If I ever find a bag of money in the woods and I have people with me, we're turning it in to the cops. Alone, I could probably handle it...

    Four out of five stars. Where's the next book, Smith?

  • Menia

    2.5-3/5*

    how to get away with murder ...or commit even more unnecessary murders ;p

    ένα απλό σχέδιο που έμπαζε από παντού νερά ή αλλιώς το άκρων άωτον της χαζομάρας

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