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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 28, 2013
The story of 419 is one that we are all confronted with everyday if we are at all involved with the internet. There are people out there who will go to great lengths to get our money in fraudulent ways. Although I have never "answered" the different members of African royalty who have written me over the years (or those who promise me great riches in the easiest way possible), I have often wondered what happens to those who do. 419 recounts the tale of a woman whose father got lost in such fraud and her attempt to make sense of this trauma and repair some of the broken pieces.

But hers is not the only story. If there is any kind of idea that emerges from 419 it is that in different ways, people are connected and it doesn't take much to have paths cross and destinies change or change again. 419 tells several stories about people who's lives are affected by this one internet scam.

This story and its sub stories are particularly well written. I had never read Ferguson, but I am glad that I came across this novel. In 419, he masters the art of beginning stories in completely different spheres and bringing them slowly, meticulously, and tantalizingly, closer together until they touch. This is an extremely well written novel in a style that has often been attempted by others, with much less success.

The questions are only raised implicitly and the different outcomes are never really consumed - there is always the impression that the author is keeping something from us, not completely revealing what he really wants to say by leaving bits and parts of the story untold and unfinished. But perhaps this is where we should be asking questions: in difficult circumstances as in the easy ones, do we really get a handle on what is happening to us? to others around us? or are we simply working with the information we have, presuming that it is complete? Perhaps there is enough in 419 to help us continue entertain doubt about humanity and our capacity for happiness. Perhaps there is a note about how such a search may prove to be fruitless. Perhaps we don't know exactly what we are really looking for until we find it.

A strongly written novel and a wonderful read.
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I LOVED this book. I didn't realize that Will Ferguson is actually a travel writer - but that does come across in this book.

First off, this book is a wonder of imagery and descriptions. I have never been to Nigeria, but I feel as though I know the people and the places better after having read this book. Secondly, the characters - each and every one of them, felt so real and tangible.

I have to say my one complaint about the book is that each section (it's divided in parts: Snow, Sand, Fuel and Fire) focuses mostly on one character (still slightly interweaving the other stories though) to the point where, when I'd start the next section it would take me a moment to want to engage more fully on a new character and leave the other one behind. But Ferguson does such a brilliant job of bringing everything and everyone together in the end that this is a slight complaint.

This is really a story about people, what we would do for our families, how we grieve, how we survive, how we react. It's about life - the dirty side of it as well as the beautiful side. Highly recommended.
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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 November 18, 2013
When I first heard of Will Ferguson's book 419, I was intrigued and looking forward to reading it. All-in-all, it didn't disappoint.

Anyone who has ever been online is sure to have received an email promising huge sums of money for helping move millions of dollars around the world - and not just from Nigeria. What is the world coming to when crooks have become so lazy that they can no longer be bothered to stick a gun in your ribs in some dark alley!

The Nigerian scams are so patently laughable that it's hard to believe anyone would fall for them. But, unfortunately, they do. As does Laura's father in the opening chapters of 419...

A highly recommended read.

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on December 11, 2013
I was reluctant to start this at first but once I got into the book was thoroughly fascinated. Having lived in Calgary, it was a real treat to say "I know where that location is'... and given that I have relatives living in the tower at the North Hill Shopping Center - was even more so. I found the subject to be completely interesting, the book was very well written and definitely kept my attention which had me asking questions all the time - eventually they were answered. Given the concern for climate change, protection of the environment, the suffering of so many peoples in under developed countries, this covered so many areas of concern besides the scam artists. I can't wait until this comes out in a movie.
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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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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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