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419: A Novel by Will Ferguson

419: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Will Ferguson

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3334033,108 (3.68)94
Title:419: A Novel
Authors:Will Ferguson
Info:Viking Canada (2012), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:canada, africa, nigeria, scams, suspense, grief, mystery, fiction, scs

Work details

419 by Will Ferguson



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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
In 419, Ferguson has created a juxtaposition of worlds that will grip you from the first page to the last.

In Calgary, police investigate the car tracks which lead to a fatal plunge through the guardrails. In Lagos, Nigeria, young shysters pack internet shops to write emails to rich Westerners from Nigerian Diplomats (a crime known by its Nigerian criminal code number, 419). In northern Nigeria, a young marked woman walks south for survival. In the oil-rich Niger Delta, trees are bulldozed and old traditions come to an end as multinational oil companies move in.

My first exposure to Ferguson was his travel narrative of Japan, Hitching Rides With Buddha. Although he's also known as a comic writer, humor takes a back seat in 419. He uses his skills as a travel writer to make the various locations come alive.

While 419 is a page-turner, there's far more to it than an average mystery novel. Ferguson has so fully fleshed-out the various settings and character perspectives, you will turn the chapter only to find yourself sympathizing with the villain.

Another fine element of this book was the conclusion (which I won't give away). While it's incredibly satisfying, it's also unexpected. From a Christian perspective, it was fittingly redemptive. That's all I can say about that!

If you read fiction, buy and read 419. Just be sure to set aside enough time to finish it. You will not want to put it down. ( )
  StephenBarkley | Aug 29, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book as part of the LT Early Reviewer Program. I was very excited when I won this book and was eager to begin reading it. Unfortunately, I had a very hard time getting into the book and it really didn't hold my attention. To be honest, after several attempts of trying to read it, I was never able to bring myself to finish reading it.
  vindemia | Mar 21, 2014 |
When Laura and Warren's father drives himself off a cliff, it looks suspicious. The police quickly learn that Henry was being scammed by one of those Nigerian email scams.

In the first half of the book, I was ready to give this 3.5 stars (good), but when an additional character was introduced about halfway through and so much focused on him, I brought it down to 3 stars (ok). The parts that focused on Henry's family and on Winston, the guy in Nigeria behind the scam, I liked enough to rate good. However, there were two other characters that a lot of the book focused on (especially in the second half). I didn't find them nearly as interesting or entertaining to read about. I did learn more about those scams which was kind of interesting. Overall, I'm going to rate this one 3 stars, o.k. ( )
  LibraryCin | Feb 2, 2014 |
I enjoyed the writing, the characters and the storylines of this book. 419 is so well researched and written with such heart that I wish I had liked it more. I found that I could not make the leap to believe in the fantastical ending--I wanted to but I could not. Still, I recommend it--I've never heard THIS story told before. ( )
  AngelaLaughing | Jan 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
So what to make of 419? Surely, talented authors should stretch their bounds. Ferguson can do many things, from travel writing to joke-telling to satire. What he can’t do is present believable earnestness. As an artist, 419 plays to all of his faults, and few of his talents. He has attempted to test himself by writing an international tragedy in the vein of Michael Ondaatje, but has imported many more of Ondaatje’s excesses than achievements.
The novel is further enlivened by sharp dialogue and imagery. Looking out from her apartment window at Calgary’s crane-crowned winter skyline, Laura sees “a city that was constantly erasing and rewriting itself. A cold city, exhaling steam.” Later, Nnamdi remembers the day the men from the oil company suddenly emerged from the dense mangrove thickets to stake the villagers’ ancestral land: “More and more men boiled out of the [jungle] gap like ants.”

But too often, especially in the novel’s first half, the prose reveals a talented author working against the instincts and storytelling gifts that served him so well in his other works. Hopefully Ferguson finds equally compelling material to work with in his next novel, be it comic or otherwise, and this time trusts his gut a little more.
added by vancouverdeb | editQuill and Quire
Until Ferguson’s characters move toward inevitable confrontations in Lagos, 419 suffers some drag. But from roughly page 187 on, you won’t sleep until you finish, and then rest won’t come easily. Riveting. Provocative.
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A car, falling through darkness.
"Four one nine is not a game, it is a contest of wills," Ironsi-Egobia continued. "It is Nigerian cunning versus oyibo greed, and in such a tussle, cunning always has the advantage. Why? Because greed clouds men's eyes, fogs their gaze. Cunning focuses it. We are tax collectors, Adam. We charge a tax on greed. We should be congratulated, not prosecuted, and yet it is we who are called the criminals. Criminals! They talk about Nigeria's 'culture of corruption.' What of Europe's 'culture of greed'? What of America's? What of these oyibos agreeing to schemes that are so clearly illegal, were they to be true? Moving millions of dollars out of a poverty-stricken nation, profiteering on Nigeria's hardships? Are the mugus not criminals too? Aspiring criminals, but criminals still. Are they not accomplices as much as they are victims? This is what the fools at the EFCC fail to see."
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Book description
A startlingly original tale of heartbreak and suspense

A car tumbles down a snowy ravine. Accident or suicide?

On the other side of the world, a young woman walks out of a sandstorm in sub-Saharan Africa. In the labyrinth of the Niger Delta, a young boy learns to survive by navigating through the gas flares and oil spills of a ruined landscape. In the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the internet looking for victims.

Lives intersect, worlds collide, a family falls apart. And it all begins with a single email: “Dear Sir, I am the son of an exiled Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help ...”

419 takes readers behind the scene of the world’s most insidious internet scam. When Laura’s father gets caught up in one such swindle and pays with his life, she is forced to leave the comfort of North America to make a journey deep into the dangerous back streets and alleyways of the Lagos underworld to confront her father’s killer. What she finds there will change her life forever ...

From the internationally bestselling travel writer Will Ferguson, author of Happiness™ and Spanish Fly, comes a novel both epic in its sweep and intimate in its portrayal of human suffering. It’s a story of love in a time of darkness, of one woman’s search for redemption, and of a young boy who will triumph above it all.
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A car tumbles through darkness down a snowy ravine. A woman without a name walks out of a dust storm in Africa. And in the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the Internet, looking for victims. Lives intersect. Worlds collide. And it all begins with a single email: 'Dear Sir, I am the daughter of a Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help ... ' At once a chilling thriller about a lonely woman avenging her father's death and an epic portrait of morality and corruption across the globe, Will Ferguson's Giller Prize-winning novel plunges into the labyrinth of li.… (more)

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