Picks and Pans Review: A Simple Plan

updated 09/20/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/20/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Scott Smith

Smith's expertly crafted first novel has been a prepublication sensation with foreign, paperback and movie rights already optioned. And no wonder; its premise is irresistible.

One snowy day, Hank Mitchell, a young accountant, his low-rent brother Jacob and Jacob's buddy Lou, discover a small plane crashed in the woods. Inside is one dead pilot and $4.4 million. Figuring it's drug money, they devise a plan to hide it for six months, then spend it happily ever after.

Hank tells his pregnant wife, Sarah. Lou tells his girlfriend, Nancy. The more people who know, the more risk. The more risk, the more paranoia. The lies multiply. An innocent man is killed. Then another, until the carnage is positively Shakespearean. And speaking of Shakespeare, there is a definite Lady Macbeth aura to Sarah—except that the desire to wash lands in the lap of the reader: A Simple Plan will make you feel like an unindicted coconspirator. To say more about the plot would ruin the pleasure...er...experience of reading the book for yourself. (Knopf, $21)

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