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A Simple Plan Paperback – October 24, 2006
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“Read this book. It is better than any suspense novel since The Silence of the Lambs.” —Stephen King
“Spectacular. . . . Ten shades blacker and several corpses grimmer than the novels of John Grisham. . . . Do yourself a favor. Read this book.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Beautifully controlled and disturbing. . . . Works a devastating variation on the idea of the banality of evil.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Like watching a train wreck. There is nothing to be done, but it is impossible to turn away.” —Chicago Tribune
“A marvel. . . . The story-twists keep you turning the pages and guessing what’s coming next. With cool precision, Smith outlines the ever-widening spiral of distrust and violence.” — The Boston Globe
“A work of deceptive simplicity and singular power. . . . To describe the fascinating parade of thoughts and deeds that lead inexorably to the book’s calamitous conclusion would give away too much of the plot.” — The Washington Post
About the Author
Scott Smith was educated at Dartmouth College and Columbia University. He lives in New York City.
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I am surprised at the naiveté of many of the 1 star reviewers for each product. Here's why:
A quick look at the book or movie A Simple Plan makes it clear this isn't a happy story. It's obviously a tragedy, so why put it down for not being cheery?
Reviewers are bewailing the actions of the main characters, saying "Real people don't act that way," or "No one is that stupid." I disagree. Real people act in ways that can be impossible to predict. The first murder in the story involves an impulsive attack and an equally impulsive effort to cover it up and to protect himself and another. The essence of this story is a cascade into tragedy. One action leads to another, meant to cover the previous one up, and so on. If you can believe the opening act, you can believe it all went downhill from there.
It's not for nothing that people say, "The love of money is the root of all evil." Otherwise good people will lie and cheat over money, even a small amount. I had a guy lie about a car accident he caused (he hit me), because he didn't want to pay damages and higher premiums. My insurance company was able to prove he was lying. Our upstanding neighbor told my dad to lie to his insurance company so they'd pay to have 40+ trees removed that came down in a storm. He said to damage our own roof so they'd pay for everything. My ex took a whole bunch of valuable stuff from a friend's apartment after his suicide. The ex's friend took stuff, plus the dead guy's van. My coworker and his wife have found a way to cheat on grocery coupons. People also gamble. A lot. Cash is a big draw. It's not a stretch to believe that someone could, on the spur of the moment, kill others over 4 million dollars, and then continue to do so to keep from getting caught.
No one's that stupid? LOL Of course they are! Google "stupid criminals." Pick up a true crime book or check the news anywhere. You'll find an untold number of cases where people are dumb enough to think they can get away with a crime. How about druggies who call the cops to report a robbery - of their drugs? The guy whose skeleton was found years after death in a chimney - he was trying to break into the house. bank robbers who leave behind a note - with their name on it?
So, what's the point I said they missed? That people are capable of who knows what when large amounts of money are at stake. The characters came up with one "simple plan" which, due to mistrust and greed, devolved into another and yet another "simple plan." This story illustrated just how fast relationships can break down over greed.
My only problem with the book was the last violent scene. The magnitude of the crime, the setting, and the manner of death all seemed out of sync with the rest of the narrative. I imagine that's why this scene wasn't in the movie. Overall, though, a gripping page turner.
The actions of the three men are so surprising because they're "normal guys." Hank is an accountant at a feed store, married with a new little daughter, and although his brother is fairly poor and not ambitious, he had never been in trouble. Lou drank a little too much, but he had a home and a girlfriend, but Hank had trouble trusting his brother and Lou. The three stood around the plane trying to decide what to do, whether to turn in the money and report the plane, put the money back in the plane and say nothing, or keep the money. It was just a simple plan that Hank came up with. But things didn't go simply and as one disastrous act leads to another it becomes a complex story with actions by these three men that are hardly believable in the context of the story.
"A Simple Plan" is about what happens to people when greed, selfishness and jealousy take over and how people rationalize their greed with words and thoughts that disguise it and make it into something that seems acceptable to them. They even rationalize terrible acts of violence as being necessary for the good of someone else when that altruistic thought is still a crime. These characters seem very real and the reader learns a lot about them over the course of the 416 pages that just fly by. Scott Smith put the story together so that there isn't a single loose end left untied and the story flows at such a good pace that reading it is like watching it all play out in front of your eyes without skipping a beat. This is an excellent book and a wonderful debut novel (1993) of suspense that I really loved and enjoyed. It took a lot of creativity, thought and talent to come up with this plot.
The book is very dark in mood as is Scott Smith's other frightening book, The Ruins.
He knows how to set the mood, introduce his characters and pace the book just right, and the writing is excellent.
Highly recommended for suspense/mystery/thriller readers.