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10 thoughts on “A Simple Plan

  1. says:

    What would you do if you found an incredible amount of money In a snow crashed plane With your footprints about the be obscured I hope you say you would turn it in.But I think most wouldn t.Incredible read, not to be stopped A MUST READ Highly recommended

  2. says:

    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 any Trust me let Scott Smith tell you this story He does so very well.

  3. says:

    I finished A Simple Plan a few days ago, and here I am sitting at work, eating a Lara Bar on my lunch break, and I m still thinking about it I hope to watch the movie tonight so I can just get all of this Simple Plan stuff out of my system The book, not the cheesy pop punk band The plan is simple, and the story itself is pretty simple, too Two brothers and a friend find a wrecked plane with a whole bunch of money inside so they decide to take the money, wait six months, and then split it all up evenly and live happily ever after This is a brilliant plan, right Obviously, the rest of the book is about how they casually spend the next six months waiting patiently No one ever discovers the plane an no one else knows about the money It s just kind of a slow, boring book about patience and sharing with friends and family You can find the same basic virtues in any episode of Daniel Tiger s Neighborhood Such a heartwarming tale of love and telling the truth Only none of that happens In fact, pretty much the opposite happens And, friends, let me just say this without spoiling anything for you When Mr Scott B Smith pushes down on the accelerator, he doesn t just put that proverbial pedal to the metal Oh no You may think he s done You may think that was a fun ride, and now he s gonna let off the accelerator a bit But he does not let off, friends He pushes the petal down through the floor He rips out the brakes so there s no stopping He cranks everything up to a level you do not expect Holy mama, this guy is relentless Man, this was an intense read It was hard to put down, and it went places I did not expect it to go I mean you know things aren t gonna go according to this simple plan, but greed man, the love of money and all that Good lord almighty If you re looking for a thrill ride, you cannot go wrong with this book It s one of the most intense and memorable thrillers I ve read in a minute.

  4. says:

    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 The Ruins 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 thoughts for those who have read it view spoiler This and No Country For Old Men make the point that if you find a bag of money and want to keep it that you should never never never go back to the place where you found it I ve always thought it was effectively creepy how the pregnant Sarah becomes Hank s Lady Macbeth, but they make the amateur criminal mistake of being just a little too cute with their crimes Sarah s idea of returning some money to the plane is clever, but returning to it causes the first murder Killing Sonny as part of the stage setting for the murders of Lou and Nancy was completely unnecessary The cops would have no trouble believing that a guy like Lou could shotgun his girlfriend in a drunken rage for any trivial reason Trying to make it look like Sonny and Nancy were having an affair was an unnecessary risk that could have easily backfired Speaking of that shotgun murder spree, I ve read this three or four times, but I just realized that Smith made some critical errors with Hank s actions that should have got him caught First, Hank called Sarah after Lou and Nancy were dead, and she comes up with the plan about involving Sonny The story is that they dropped off Lou and were leaving when they heard the shooting If the cops pulled the phone records Which seems likely at the house of a quadruple murder they d see that call to Sarah and have a good idea that Hank was lying Also, gunshot residue tests that would be routinely administered in a situation like that would show that Lou hadn t fired a gun but that Hank had been emptying a shotgun I d forgotten the part about Jacob s dog Hank really shows that he s kind of an uncaring son of a bitch under this regular fella persona when he leaves the poor animal alone in a garage nights and ties it to a tree during the day where it has nothing to do but sit in the cold and mud He never considers that it s not Jacob s death but his own treatment that makes the dog mean, or of trying to find another home for it The way he botched the shooting of it is also the most painful scene in the book for me Yeah, I m one of those people who can read about or watch a thousand people getting brutally murdered without batting an eye, but even fictional cruelty to animals makes me sick hide spoiler

  5. says:

    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 .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 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 itFour out of five stars Where s the next book, Smith

  6. says:

    I love bookmarks My favorites are color postcards, or airline boarding passes I hold onto I have no problem using these to mark my place in a book and pick up with it the next day or the days after The exception to this are books like A Simple Plan, the debut novel by Scott B Smith that I stayed up until 3 05 a.m on a Saturday night Sunday morning to finish I had to Published in 1993, its premise is not new and one that many have asked ourselves If you found millions of dollars in cash, would you keep the money, or turn it in And if you kept it, what complications might arise Maybe none, if you were smart, right Wrong.The novel is the first person account of Hank Mitchell, a thirty year old college graduate who married his college girlfriend Sarah They returned to northwestern Ohio and Hank s hometown of Ashenville to put his degree in business administration to use as an accountant in a feedstore Hank recalls events that began New Year s Eve 1987, when he waits for his older brother Jacob to pick him up and visit their parents, killed two years ago in a vehicle collision Though their father specified that his sons visit his gravesite together each year on his birthday, Hank has little contact with Jacob, an unemployed construction worker who lives alone in an apartment over a hardware store.Jacob arrives with two friends in tow Lou is an unemployed construction worker with thinly veiled contempt for Hank, and Mary Beth is Jacob s dog En route to the cemetery, a fox darts in front of the pickup and Mary Beth chases it into a nature preserve Hardly dressed for a hike through the snow, Hank is sensitive to being teased and joins Jacob and Lou as they follow the tracks Buried at the bottom of a crevice, the men discover a small plane, which Hank is elected to crawl inside He finds the pilot, whose eyes have been gouged out by crows, and a duffel bag, which he manages to drag out of the wreckage after a crow flies smack into Hank s forehead Inside the bag are packets of hundred dollar bills Hank calculates there might be three million dollars here Jacob was still crouched there, the money in his hand Put it back, Jacob, I said He didn t move It s different for you, Lou said You ve got your job at the feedstore Jacob and I don t have that This money d matter to us His voice had edged itself toward a whine, and hearing it, I felt a revelatory flash of power The dynamic of the relationship had shifted, I realized I was in control now I was the spoiler, the one who would decide what happened to the money I smiled at Lou I d still get in trouble if you took it You d fuck up, and I d be considered an accomplice Jacob started to stand up, then crouched back down again Why not take all of it he asked, looking from Lou to me All of it I said The idea seemed preposterous, and I started to laugh, but it made my forehead ache I winced, probing at the bump with my fingers It was still bleeding a little Just take the bag, he said, leave the dead guy in there, pretend we were never here Lou nodded eagerly, pouncing on the idea Split it three ways We d get caught as soon as you started spending it, I said Imagine the three of us suddenly throwing hundred dollar bills around at the stores in town Jacob shook his head We could wait a while, then leave town, start up new lives A million apiece, Lou said Think about it You don t just get away with something like that, I sighed You end up doing something stupid, and you get caught Don t you see, Hank Jacob asked, his voice rising with impatience It s like this money doesn t even exist No one knows about it but us It s three million dollars, Jacob It s missing from somewhere You can t tell me no one s searching for it If people were searching for it, we would ve heard by now There would ve been something on the news It s drug money, Lou said It s all under the table The government doesn t know about any of it You don t I started, but Lou cut me off Jesus, Hank All this money staring you right in the face It s the American dream, and you just want to walk away from it You work for the American dream, Lou You don t steal it Then this is even better than the American dream Hank quickly works out a plan He insists on holding the stash for six months, until the plane is discovered in the thaw If no one comes for the money, Hank agrees to split it then, provided they each leave town Counting it, they find they have 4.4 million Hank makes Jacob and Lou promise not to speak a word to anyone, and he agrees not to tell Sarah Returning home, Hank dumps the cash at his wife s feet Sarah, eight months pregnant with their first child, is skeptical they need the money and believes the risks are too great Hank promises to burn it at the first sign of trouble and she agrees if he returns 500,000 to the plane to discourage authorities from searching for the money.On New Years Day, Hank awakens to find Sarah counting the money She suggests Hank take Jacob with him when he returns to the plane, in case he or Lou spot Hank s stationwagon out there and gets suspicious, but not to tell them about returning part of the money Drunk and tired, Jacob is unwilling to walk back to the plane and Hank goes alone He almost makes it back when he hears a snowmobile He finds a farmer talking to his brother and watches in horror as Jacob strikes the old timer and kicks him to death To protect his brother, Hank decides to drive the body into the creek on the snowmobile When Hank discovers the farmer is still alive, he smothers the man to death.Hank is relieved when Sarah considers the murder an accident, something that her husband had no control over The couple begin to worry about Lou, who s told his girlfriend Nancy about the money In debt, Lou pays Hank a visit late at night and asks for a packet He reveals that he knows about the murdered farmer No longer holding leverage over Lou, Hank tells him that he s stashed the money upstate and will divide it up after Sarah s delivery Meanwhile, Jacob has decided that he wants to use his share to rebuild the family farm Incredulous, Hank agrees to this if Jacob picks a side and helps him trick Lou into confessing to the farmer s murder on tape, giving Hank some leverage in case Lou tries to turn them in What do you think will happen to him Sarah asked To Jacob I sensed her nod in the darkness We were both on our backs All the lights were out, and the baby was asleep in her crib Sarah had forgiven me for lecturing her Maybe he ll buy a farm, I said.I felt her body go tense beside me He can t buy the farm, Hank If he stays Not my father s farm Just any farm Someplace out west maybe, in Kansas, or Missouri We could help him set it up Even as I spoke, I realized it would never happen It had been the wine that had allowed me to hope for earlier that evening, but now I was sobering up, seeing things as they actually were rather than as I wished them to be Jacob knew nothing about agriculture he d have just as much of a chance succeeding as a farmer as he would becoming a rock star or an astronaut It was simply childishness on his part to keep on dreaming of it, a willful sort of na vet , a denial of who he was Maybe he ll travel, I tried, but I couldn t picture that either my brother, climbing on and off planes, dragging suitcases through airports, checking into expensive hotels None of it seemed possible Whatever he does, I said, things ll be better for him than they are now, don t you think I rolled over onto my side, draping one of my legs across Sarah s body Of course, she said He ll have one point three million dollars How could things not be better As compulsively readable as this novel is, what s remarkable about A Simple Plan is how that instead of leaping from one ridiculous plot point to another, it remains grounded Scott B Smith, who followed this novel with only one other The Ruins in 2006 is interested in the dynamic between two brothers who barely relate to each other but are bound to each other, as well as the bind between husband and wife, and even two drinking buddies, and how the introduction of a cash windfall poisons them It s a tightly constructed story but one that uses its premise to explore its characters and ask compelling questions about what constitutes happiness for the middle class Sarah had received a B.S in petroleum engineering from the University of Toledo When I first met her, she was planning on moving down to Texas and landing a high paying job in the oil industry She wanted to save up her money and buy a ranch someday, a spread she called it, with horses and a head of cattle and her own special brand, an S embedded with a heart Instead, we got married I was hired by the feedstore in Ashenville in the spring of my senior year, and suddenly, without really choosing it, she found herself in Delphia There weren t many openings in northwestern Ohio for someone with an undergraduate degree in petroleum engineering, so she ended up working part time at the local library She was a trouper she always made the best of things, yet there had to be some regret in all this she had to look back every now and then and mourn the distance that separated her present existence from the one she d dreamed of as a student She d sacrificed something of herself for our relationship, but she d never attracted attention to it, and so it had seemed natural to me, even inevitable It wasn t until tonight that I saw it for the tragedy it was.Now the money had arrived, and she could begin to dream again She could draw up her wish lists, page through her magazines, plan her new life It was a nice way to envision her full of hope and yearning, making promises to herself that she felt certain she could fulfill but there was also something terribly sad about it We were trapped, I realized we d crossed a boundary, and we couldn t go back The money, by giving us the chance to dream, had also allowed us to begin despising our present lives My job at the feedstore, our aluminum siding house, the town around us we were already looking upon all that as part of our past It was what we were before we became millionaires it was stunted, gray, unlivable And so if, somehow, we were forced to relinquish the money now, we wouldn t merely be returning to our old lives, starting back up as if nothing of import had happened we d be returning having seen them from a distance, having judged them and deemed them unworthy The damage would be irreparable.I love Pandora s boxes and A Simple Plan, while having a terrific box, is about the things that can t be put back once they re taken out The question of where the money comes from and who might come looking for it pays off marvelously and I identified with these characters, lower middle class Americans in a so called flyover state A rural winter proves atmospheric and was proven to be in a great film adaptation directed by Sam Raimi in 1998 The screenplay was adapted by Smith and I was surprised by how significantly he departed from his source material at the halfway mark while delivering a gut punch in both Length 110,529 words

  7. says:

    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

  8. says:

    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.

  9. says:

    Yeah, baby A step by step descent into a very private hell Four stars from me This was a hundred per cent better than most thrillers crime fiction I ever read because it didn t ask you to suspend any one tiny part of your disbelief, there were no outrageous circumstances, no floridly crazed villains, no coincidences, no corpse that did not follow on logically from the corpse before it Scott Smith comes up with a felicitous phrase to describe what I mean on page 237 It had the disorderly verisimilitude of realityIt s true we have seen this kind of thing before The plot is like the almighty screw ups in Fargo the movie and the tv series and the setting, too, winter in the midwest The device that kicks all this mayhem off is the same as the one in Charley Varrick and Shallow Grave, two great little movies, and probably many others too ordinary guys discover a huge bag of money Will they keep it Of course Will they begin to think their pals will betray them try to steal it all Sure thing Will the bad guys whose money this is come looking for it You betcha Will things just keep getting entangled and violent Need you ask.As well as a strong plot that drags the reader on to the bitter end, this is also a study in how ordinary people given the right circumstance can find their inner Macbeth quite easily, it s there inside their minds all the time, waiting to be roused, like a sleeping cobra When I say ordinary people I mean me and you yes, you Everyone is included in this indictment Another great demonstration of how an ordinary guy becomes a terrible criminal is Breaking Bad In my second hand copy of A Simple Plan there were a couple of pages with round brown stains on them, drops of something or other I have not sent them off for laboratory testing yet but if it s dried blood it would be most appropriate.

  10. says:

    Scott B Smith has written only two novels, published 13 years apart I ve given them both 5 stars He works within specific genres His novel The Ruins is horror this book is a crime thriller And yet both books are so well written, so smart and feature so much psychological depth that it does them a disservice to call them anything but great literature He s that rare literary writer who keeps you turning pages A Simple Plan has a simple premise Three men accountant Hank, his unemployed brother, Jacob and Jacob s friend Lou find 4.4 million in a duffel bag in a small crashed plane in a clearing in a forest What to do Tell the sheriff Divide up the money It s probably drug money, so who would it hurt to keep it It s winter in Northern Ohio, and they ve made tracks getting to the plane Should they cover up those tracks Eventually they decide to wait until spring and the plane s found If someone comes searching for the money, they can always burn it, right In the meantime, they shouldn t say anything to anyone Lou s girlfriend, Hank s wife They shouldn t plan on their lives as millionaires Easier said than done, isn t it Then things go wrong They go very Very VERY VEERRRRYYY WRONG As a thriller, Smith knows how to crank up the tension Even though I had seen the 1998 movie, I was still gripped by the plot I d forgotten how things played out Note the book is much, much bloodier, and Jacob is obese in the novel, not the film What really kept me glued to the book, however, was how deep Smith went into his characterizations of Hank and Jacob There are biblical echoes in their relationship Think Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau Think Am I my brother s keeper The book is told in the first person from Hank s perspective, and one of the most fascinating things is seeing how much Hank changes It s no spoiler to say that everything that Hank fears Lou and Jacob will do, he does himself Your feelings about him will alter throughout the book And then there s Hank s wife, Sarah, who s pregnant with their first child Think Lady Macbeth The finding of the money makes them see things about themselves they were never forced to confront before Who knew that a book about crime and punishment could tell you so much about the human condition Dostoyevsky and Poe, that s who And other great writers.Good luck finding a copy The Toronto Public Library system has one digital copy and one reference copy I wouldn t be surprised if, in another decade or so, A Simple Plan showed up in the out of print NYRB Classics line Meanwhile, Smith has apparently written a TV series with a political theme Let s hope he hasn t given up on novels.

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