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TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 11, 2013
At times this story made me angry, it made me frustrated and it even had me wiping away a few tears. One great plot point had me jumping out of my chair and pumping my fist in the air while I yelled out encouragement to Laura, one of the driving forces of the story.

Who is Laura? She is the surviving daughter of Henry Curtis, who has fallen victim to an online scam originating in Nigeria. It appears that he has been duped into sending all of his life savings, including the re-mortgaging of his family home, to help procure the release of some 'fraudulently' withheld funds. I've had dozens of these emails land in my inbox asking me to please help. For some reason, Henry didn't press 'delete'. He tried to help. This help ended up with him dead on the opening page of the novel.

Author Will Ferguson doesn't just tell the story from the survivors' points of view, but also looks into the rational of the scammers. How is it that healthy young, educated people spend their time defrauding strangers when they are quite capable of finding legitimate employment. He then goes one step further and introduces the problems associated with the oil industry in Nigeria and how it has affected the health and livelihoods of huge segments of it's population. This all wraps together and leads to a very dramatic resolution to Laura's quest for revenge.

I was very much looking forward to Laura getting revenge on the 419'ers(419 is the section of the criminal code in Nigeria that deals with obtaining money or goods under false pretenses), but then Mr. Ferguson introduced the 'mafia' type influence on the scammers and I found myself questioning what I thought I knew. These young men, mostly the scammers in the story are men, are in turn the victims of other scammers. Where does this end and how high up into law enforcement do their bribes and corruption reach. Is resistance futile, will we all inevitably fall victims to one scam or another. How far will our greed carry us.

This book kept me eagerly reading, wanting to know how Laura would avenge her father's death. I enjoyed almost the entire book, the exception being Laura's final act once she had returned to her 'post-scam' life.
I would have enjoyed the entire book much more had I stopped reading at chapter 120 and left the final chapter un-read.
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on May 12, 2013
Wow, what a level of research and fact-finding it must have taken to put this book together. I will never again look at emails and surveys in the same light. Read this book as a novel and it is very good. Read it as a primer on internet skulduggery and it shines through as an education. I enjoyed both aspects and the prizes received are well merited.
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on December 3, 2012
This is a story about Internet fraud and while I know this does happen I found it a bit 'over the top' at some points. The story of Nigeria however, is very interesting which tended to put my feelings of the over dramatic parts in the background.
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on May 2, 2013
I really really enjoyed this book. It's told in 4 parts, and I like this style when authors use it, providing the author is able to bring everything together in the end, and the story while reading continues to keep you reading. The story beginning with an overturned car is interesting and we are introduced to a family ordinary like any other family. From there the story just takes off in many directions, and draws you in, and keeps going deeper and deeper in mystery and drama. Having tried to read this authors previous book Spanish Fly, and NOT enjoying it, this book 419 totally redeems this author for me. I choose it due to it winning the Giller award for year 2012, and will definitely read his next.
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on February 6, 2013
I found this book disapointing. I was looking forward to it , having lived for years in Lagos, but could not connect with it in the way I expected. Has some of the flavour if Nigeria but could have a lot more
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on August 12, 2013
419 by Will Ferguson has an impressive scope. It pulls the reader into a simple mystery story and then it morphs into something much bigger. The novel asks the hard questions. What good is revenge? Who is responsible for Nigeria’s poverty and pain? Specifically, it looks at oil and the terrible price society has paid for it. It’s also a story about narrative and how important stories are in this world. They record history. They trick people into parting with their money. They can save your life. This novel is a cautionary tale but told so beautifully that we hang on every word and don’t even realize we are being schooled by a master storyteller.My Mother's Dress (Back to the Land)
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The Canadian humourist and high-adventure novelist Will Ferguson has written a gripping tale about a Canadian elderly man who gets caught up in the Nigerian 419 e-mail scam and the efforts of his daughter to recover his money. The reader is introduced to the complex and seamy world of consumer fraud in a way that literally boggles the imagination. While we might be able to appreciate the extent of the victim's credulity in signing over his and his wife's life savings to fraudsters, unseen and thousands of miles away, the extent to which this elaborate con is hatched and sprung is hard to fathom as to who the perpetrators are. To uncover that mystery, Ferguson has the daughter engaged in some major personal sleuthing, involving the Internet, to bring the thieves to justice. As the story shows, this is no small feat. Much of what Laura accomplishes to right a terrible wrong is done with the grudging help of the police and friends. There are stretches in the story where the description of this personal detective work seems to be cut short. Suddenly there is Laura in the middle of the Niger delta, courting extreme danger but with a fool-proof plan to confront the scammers. Such gaps are excusable because Ferguson is anxiously trying to get his character from Alberta to Nigeria through an international maze of corruption and ineptitude. What really made this novel worth the read was Ferguson's efforts to present another side to the big hunt for the bad boys. Interlarded with Laura's high-powered adventure is a running account of how a young man (Nmandi) and his extended family eke out an impoverished life amidst the oil platforms of the Delta. It is in this crime-infested environment that the 419 scam thrives in an attempt to get money to move up the social ladder and get out of this hell-hole. Being able to bring these two important threads together is the main strength of this book. Laura learns to truly see her need for justice through the eyes of those who have succeeded in ripping her and her family off. What she discovers is that con artists are not limited to Africa and a 419 scam.
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on February 6, 2013
This is a well written book that takes you behind the scenes of the Nigerian diplomat type scam we've all at least heard about, even if you've not been a recipient of one of those attempts at extortion. It also uncovers a side of Africa that is relevant in today's oil hungry world and of her citizens who try to eke out a living from a decimated landscape. The characters are well rounded though one's back story still remains a mystery to me, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in fiction.
I'd highly recommend this one!
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on May 16, 2013
I absolutely loved this book! It addressed a subject I knew very little about, and same with the Nigerian culture. I was disturbed by the western impact on the Delta, both at the level of using the natural resources and on the environment. The information is credible (which I was often cross-referencing). The story is fascinating, and the way the lives of the protagonists intersect is most absorbing. It's one of those books to which I could not predict the ending! A strongly recommended read.
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on January 18, 2013
We all get the spam e-mails that tell us someone died, and we're inheriting a boatload of money. The book delves into the background of these e-mails and presents a perspective from the side of the people sending them. The book is many things: social commentary, adventure, human emotion etc. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and also learned a few things.
I highly recommend..
One other thing I enjoyed was the locale was Calgary, AB, this is home.
Ed W (Jan 18,2013)
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