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  • Writer's pictureAnanya Ak

A Simple Plan Was A Nerve-Wracking, Spine-Tingling Read

The book, A Simple Plan, kept on a white surface. At the top left corner of the book rests an origami aircraft labelled "crashed plane". Below the plane is a white origami dog labelled "Jacob's dog Mary Beth", and to the side is an orange origami duffel bag labelled "a duffel bag full on cash". To the right of the book is an origami hunting rifle.

About the book

Hank, his brother Jacob, and Jacob’s friend Lou stumble upon a crashed plane, the pilot dead and a duffel bag full of cash. They’re normal people; all three of them. Average people with average lives.

But then they decide to keep the money. After all, no one knows they found that plane! No one even seems to be looking for the plane or the money! So they give in to temptation.

On one condition. A simple enough one:

Keep the money aside for six months. Just six months, until we’re sure no one’s looking for it. Then split it up and have a great life.

A simple plan.

Only…not really.


The book takes us through a rollercoaster of emotions as the narrator, Hank, describes how the simple plan was actually quite complicated and destructive.

We’re forced to watch as these totally normal people do things they never imagined.

It’s like watching a horror movie.

You’re screaming at the protagonists that what they’re doing will only lead to trouble, but the poor things can’t hear you.

In this, Hank does the job himself. Every once in a while, he says something like (and I’m paraphrasing), “Maybe this was where we should have stopped. Then it wouldn’t have gone to the extent it did.”

You shut your eyes tight, but then you open them just a crack, because you can’t help it. You simply HAVE to know what happens next.

Rather than a murder mystery or any of the “dunnits”, it’s a story of a normal group of people’s descent into darkness.

As you get sucked into Hank’s narration and see exactly why the sequence of events unfolds as it does, you can’t help but think, “Would I have done the same thing in their place?”

And that’s what takes it a notch above scary and makes it downright terrifying. Because the answer to that question is not always, “No way!”

Amritesh (@the_bookish_maniac) pushed me to read this, saying it’s his favourite thriller of all time.

And I can see why.

It’s as far from a cliché whodunnit as you can get, with its unpredictable happenings shocking and disgusting you at every turn.

A Simple Plan is now my favourite English-language thriller (Higashino and Kanae Minato’s books remain my favourite translated thrillers!)

Read the book. You will not regret. Promise.

About the author

A side profile of the author, Scott Smith
Scott Smith

Scott Smith is an American author and screenwriter. Born in Summit, New Jersey, he moved to Toledo, Ohio as a child. After graduating from Dartmouth College and Columbia University with a Master of Fine Arts in Writing, he took up writing full time.

He has written two novels, ‘A Simple Plan’ and ‘The Ruins’, both of which were adapted into films based on Smith’s own screenplays. His screenplay for ‘A Simple Plan’ was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He has also written the screenplays for other films including ‘Siberia’ and ‘The Burnt Orange Heresy’.


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