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?