Scott Smith is the author of A Simple Plan, which was both an excellent novel and an excellent movie (directed, by the way, by Sam Raimi, of Spiderman and Armies of Darkness fame). In case you never saw or read it, it was about three men who discover millions of dollars in cash inside a plane that has crashed in the Minnesota words. Their “simple plan” is to wait a few months and see if the money is claimed before they spend it. Of course, it doesn’t work out quite that way. The story was effective in demonstrating the snowballing effects of deceit, particularly within the context of material wealth. A good read – I recommend it.

Until this year, A Simple Plan was Smith’s only novel. I eagerly anticipated his follow-up this summer, called The Ruins. If you liked the first book, let me spare you the second. The Ruins is abysmal. It is no better than a B horror movie, but even Haven wouldn’t like it. There is no humor. Six tourists venture into the jungles of Mexico where they run across a vine (yes, a vine) that kills them all. And that is it. It would have been a little more fun if they had figured out how to kill it, but they don’t. It would have been a little more fun if it was scary, but it wasn’t. It would even have been more fun if they had tried to fight back, but they don’t really. The book ends with their friends following them into the jungle, to the same vine, about to suffer the same fate.

If I go the rest of my life without reading that book, I will die happy.