I read this novel after having already viewed the movie by the same name. The book and film start off nearly identically: Two brothers (Hank and Jacob) and Jacob's friend Lou find a bag containing more than $4 million in a crashed plane in the woods. They agree to hold onto the money for several months, while waiting to see if it is marked or if they will be caught if they attempt to spend it. If nothing happens in six months, the three men will split the money, leave town, and live happily ever after while enjoying the finest things in life. Only, as you already surely know, the plan turns out to be not so simple. Instead, it goes horribly awry.
The movie and book are the same in the way that the plan initially begins to fail. Hank and Jacob encounter the same problems with Dwight Pederson, Lou and his girlfriend Nancy. From there, the movie and book take their respective audiences down different paths that I will not reveal.
I liked the movie's path better, because I could better understand and appreciate Hank's actions in the movie. He comes off as less heartless, and it is easier to see his transformation from a good person to a man who has done completely evil things. Hank is far more ruthless and calculating in the book, and this is harder to accept in light of his beginnings as a normal, good man. It's hard to discuss the differences between the two media without giving too much away.
However, I cannot say that I was at all disappointed in the book. It kept me completely riveted. For the most part, the characters were completely realistic and simply entangled in an awful mess that they feel powerless to free themselves from. After finishing the book, the enormity of the character's losses took my breath away. I was left wondering whether, even if everything had gone according to the original plan, any of the characters would have been any happier than they had been prior to finding the money.