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65 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping depiction of our darker side
When I began this novel, I already had an inkling of what the trajectory of the plot would be, based upon the information on the book jacket. It's no secret that the story revolves around what unfolds when three men accidentally stumble upon a plane that has crashed with millions of dollars in cash on board. The bulk of the book explores the grim consequences of this...
Published on December 31, 2001 by Douglas A. Greenberg

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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book but Not the Next Great American Novel
A Simple Plan begins promisingly. The writing is crisp and inviting: the author has a tendency to mix major plot events seamlessly with small details that evoke a sense of setting of life while at the same time integrating the setting back into the plot. I enjoyed most in this book the little descriptions, be they of the town of Ashenville, the woods, the actions of...
Published on June 2, 2002 by Alexander Benjamin Leibowitz


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65 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping depiction of our darker side, December 31, 2001
When I began this novel, I already had an inkling of what the trajectory of the plot would be, based upon the information on the book jacket. It's no secret that the story revolves around what unfolds when three men accidentally stumble upon a plane that has crashed with millions of dollars in cash on board. The bulk of the book explores the grim consequences of this discovery. Despite the generally predictable and even formulaic nature of the plot overall, Smith has done an amazingly skillful job of creating a page-turner of a suspense novel that is nearly impossible to put down. The particulars of just how things go awry for the various principals involved are spun out in ingenious fashion over several hundred extremely well-written pages.
This book not only tells a gripping (and sometimes gory) tale of how a seemingly "simple plan" goes awry, it also provides clear insight into the darker side of the human condition, that is, how under particular circumstances even seemingly "nice, normal people" can end up committing and rationalizing the most heinous deeds, always with "good reasons" behind their actions. The way that Smith lays bare the fragility of human ethics and morals sadly rings true, and renders the book as depressing as it is horrifying and suspenseful. Overall, it's a terrific read that should not be missed.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MONEY IS INDEED THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL..., August 26, 2001
This is, without a doubt, an amazing debut novel. It is a modern day morality tale, which sees people's lives change significantly, when they come upon a veritable treasure trove of money. The change is not necessarily for the better, as the reader will discover.
The plot revolves around two, small town brothers, Hank and Jacob Mitchell, who, along with Jacob's friend, Lou, inadvertently come upon a downed plane that is buried in the snow, deep in the woods of a rural area. In that plane is a dead pilot, along with four million dollars in cold, hard cash. All three of them could sure use the money. The question is, what are they going to do about it?
They come up with what they think is a simple plan. They will take the money and just wait and see, not spending it, until the coast seems clear. From the moment they make this decision, life is never the same for any of them. Hank, taking charge of the money for safekeeping, begins to undergo a change that is seemingly uncharacteristic of one who is outwardly so respectable, rational, and benign of countenance.
As the issue of the money begins to divide the three accomplices, greed and betrayal bubble to the surface, to culminate in a series of chilling, cold blooded murders. Meanwhile, Hank, manipulated by his Ma Barker of a wife, Sarah, begins a personal downward spiral, succumbing to an evil so profound, that it will leave the reader open mouthed.
What happens to them all makes for an amazingly powerful and riveting story of psychological suspense. Written in clean, spare prose, this well crafted novel is a riveting page turner that grips the reader from the inception, holding the reader in its thrall until its climactic conclusion. The ending serves to show the reader that what goes around, does, indeed, come around.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Macbeth in the Midwest, August 31, 2006
By 
Edward Aycock (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Many people were disappointed by Smith's most recent novel, "The Ruins" (although I wasn't one of them) so I knew I had to read Smith's first novel to see how it compared. The truth is there is no comparison that can be made as "A Simple Plan" is as far removed from "The Ruins" - genre-wise, story-wise, everything-wise- as a novel can be. If there could be a true comprison made for this book, it would be Woody Allen's film, "Crimes and Misdemeanors." That an author can write two such different novels AND succeed with both is an achievement.

Smith is a damn good writer and this tale, a story as simple as Hank Mitchell's plan, is riveting. There wasn't one point in this novel where I wasn't worried that if I turned the page, everything would come out in the open. Between Hank's simple plan, his wife Sarah's murderous lucidity and the growing body count, there is never a dull moment. I do confess that by the end of the book, I was starting to feel like the widening circle of death was getting a bit too extreme (for those who only know the film version of the novel, they diverge in a major way halfway through so the book will be a new experience) but at the same time, if I was Hank Mitchell, what would I have done? That's a question I kept asking myself and still do.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely mesmerizing, April 27, 2000
This book sat in my bookcase for months until I finally decided to read it. What an excellent decision! The story was absolutely mesmerizing with a fantastic plot and very well written. It was tightly constructed with no obvious loose ends.This first novel held my interest as the narrator Hank, an accountant, reveals how he, his older brother Jacob and Jacob's friend Lou accidently discover a crashed plane and over $4 million hidden within its fuselage. From the decision to take the money, Hank reveals the thoughts and emotions, the fear, anxiety and the development of sociopathy with rationalization and self-preservation justifying increasingly violent and irrational behavior. The story has the ability of allowing the reader to think along with Hank and his wife Sarah and compare their decisions to what the reader may have done in similar circumstances that makes this a great exercise in values clarification.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVE this book, July 22, 2012
This review is from: A Simple Plan (Hardcover)
This thriller by Scott Smith is one of my all-time favorite novels. I read the book prior to seeing the great film. When reading 'A Simple Plan' I could barely put the book down to eat or sleep or work. I simply could not stop reading and could not quit talking about it to my sigiificant-other who happened to be on a business trip around-the-world. When he would telephone, his experiences were thrilling, but I would quickly follow them up with recaps of my latest pages in 'A Simple Plan'. When he returned from his journey he told me he had read an article on the plane home where 'A Simple Plan' was being made into a film. I was sorry I had given the plot away to him, but thrilled beyond belief that this wonderful page-turner book was going to become a movie starring my favorite actor, Billy Bob Thornton.

The only down-side to the book, 'A Simple Plan' is that Scott Smith did not follow up his amazing debut novel with another crime-thriller; eventually releasing a horror-story instead The Ruins.

I still recommend this book to all my friends, new and old, and recently purchased a pristine hardcover copy of a 'First Edition' for a friend. I likewise recommend 'A Simple Plan' to anyone who loves a good thriller - one that grabs you and simply refuses to let go, makes your heart pound and you gut twist. I even recommend it for those who have seen the wonderful film because the book continues with another twist after the film ends, as if the twists and turns up that point weren't spectacular and gripping enough. A MUST read for any thriller-lover who has somehow missed this pulse-raising tale.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Parable on Greed, December 11, 2009
I can't imagine a more powerful warning regarding the destructive power of greed. Many of us have probably dreamed of finding a large amount of money that leaves no clue of who it might have belonged to. We fantasize about suddenly becoming financially independent and what we could do with all that money. Well, be careful what you wish for. Given the innate greed and grabbiness of the human heart, sudden riches often has a less than satisfactory result in human lives. You will become increasingly tense as you read this book and try not to get your heart set on a happily ever after ending. You will find it hard to set the book down so try to read it over a weekend when you have lots of spare time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Strong Moral Tale, July 19, 2003
By 
Matthew D. Johnston (Burford, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book is very similar to the movie, which is probably because Scott B. Smith was granted the opportunity to write the screenplay to the film as well. "A Simple Plan" tells the story of two brothers, Hank and Jacob, who find a crashed plane in a forest near their home towns with a friend of Jacob's, Lou. In the plane is a bag of money -- over $4 million. Conflicted over ideas of who owns the money, where it came from, and how it would change their lives for the better if they kept it, they eventually agree to sit on the money for six months, until the spring thaw and the plane is found; if there is no mention of missing money, they agree to split it three ways.
Of course, things don't go as planned, and the novel takes twist after twist which propels Hank, the narrator of the story, into deeper and deeper moral quagmires. With each choice he makes to protect their theft and his sure wealth, he adds new things he would take the fall for should they be discovered, and new things he must live with on his conscience.
While the plot is very similar eventwise to the movie, there are a few deviations -- and, strangely enough, they almost always seem to work in the movie's favour. I watched -- and absolutely loved -- the movie a few years ago, so I knew the basic plot and was pleased to see the similarities. I count the movie among the best pure "moral" movies ever made, where the underlying principle is just a dilemma about doing the right things. But there are things which were in the novel which make Hank's choice less sympathetic than in the movie. In the movie I felt that his choices were truly, as Sarah rationalizes, without choice at all, just outcomes of their initial choice to sit on the money, things that had to follow. He never does anything which is premeditated and malicious. But here we see Hank morally deteriorated to the point where he's picking on (to put it lightly) absolutely innocent people to cover his mistakes, and not taking moral stands he knows he should make for the sake of others (one particular choice I'm thankful that he *does* make in the movie). I also didn't like the resolution to Jacob's involvement, which is the most noticeable change between the novel and the movie.
Otherwise, though, I think both the movie and the novel are worth paying attention to. Some of Hank's choices toward the end of the novel might be slightly stretching credibility, but there is an underlying principle which is strongly demonstrated throughout: good people can do evil things. The question of how close we are to being Hank Mitchells ourselves is always there, because he is, for the most part, just a normal guy. The question is not "What would you do if you found $4 million?" but rather "What would you do to keep $4 million?" If we're to accept that Hank Mitchell is just another normal guy, I'd say the answer is pretty scary.
Matthew D. Johnston
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greed is Evil, May 30, 2006
A Kid's Review
This book was a page-turner because there were very exciting parts in it. It was not to hard to concentrate on the story but sometimes I had to look back in the book to check a character or a place. I did not connect to a character in this story because characters in the book kill many people mainly for money and I could not do that. I like the genre because it sounded like the story could really happen. I like the style of writing in this book, and an example is that the author makes the story very believable like it could happen to almost anybody. The book was not boring but very exciting and my mind did not wander when I was reading. I would recommend this book to people who like adventure and mystery books. This book was terrific because it held suspense and you would never know what event would happen next.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thin line between good and evil., July 27, 2007
By 
Ethan (Journalist) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Simple Plan (Paperback)
The book starts out with a great intro, and from there there is no stopping to the madness. I like it when an uather takes the human condition to its extreme. How suddenly killing would be so easy compesation to our securities. how our inner dysfunctional conflict are burried deep with and would only arise for the most superficial thing on earth, in this case:MoNY.

A lot of people will be skeptical. But it is a one of a kind thriller looking at people with a chance to change and reach their high castle dreams over night, discovering that it is not about the source of change. It is about who they really are.

The line between good and evil is really thin.

Great book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Simple Plan: A Complicted Demise, March 9, 2003
By 
Pollux812 (Lafayette, LA) - See all my reviews
I feel that A Simple Plan by Scott Smith is an excellent suspense novel. This novel tells the story of Hank Mitchell, who finds 4.4 million dollars in an airplane that crashed in the woods. He is accompanied by his bumbling brother Jacob, and Jacob�s low-life friend Lou. They agree to keep the money, and their situation seems to be very simple, when everything begins to go wrong. It all starts with the murder of an old man who saw them sneaking around the woods where the airplane crashed. From there, all of their simple lives take a dark twist. Betrayal and murder become the norm as Hank does deeds he never imagined himself doing, all being supported by his pregnant wife Sarah.
Scott Smith�s uses plot twists brilliantly to keep the story going at full speed. The reader never knows what to expect next. He uses foreshadowing, dialogue, and insight into the mind of the narrator, Hank, to create an eerie feeling of suspense. One never knows until the end of the novel whether there will be a happy or tragic ending, which keeps the reader guessing until the incredible climax.
A Simple Plan was an entertaining book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves suspenseful fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and hope to see the movie that was made about it.
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A Simple Plan
A Simple Plan by Scott Smith (Paperback - October 24, 2006)
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