Book Club Kit - 2012
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Laura Curtis confronts the Lagos underworld of Internet scams in an attempt to track down her father's killer after he dies as a result of one such swindle.
Publisher: Toronto : Penguin Group, 2012.
Characteristics: 399 p. : ill.


From Library Staff

Scotiabank Giller Prize (2012)

2015 April Selection

2015 April Selection

K_ROK Aug 24, 2013

This book was great, and I loved how the different plot lines of the various characters in the novel come together and intersect. A beautifully written novel that draws attention to the 419 scams of Nigeria but also comments on the problems with the oil industry and corrupt facets of government w... Read More »

ehbooklover Mar 04, 2013

A disturbing, gripping, and informative read about the ever present 419 internet scams. The author tells the story from the point of view of both the victims and the perpetrators of these scams. This book raises thought provoking questions that don’t have easy answers and stays with you long afte... Read More »

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I really liked the book 419 by Will Ferguson. 419 is a reference to the Nigerian Criminal Code that deals with email fraud/scams. The story begins with the tragic death of the heroine’s near-retirement father. As the roads were snow-covered and icy at the time, the investigators assume, at first, that it was an accident. However, there are some inconsistencies. As the story progresses Laura realizes that her dad was tricked out of his life savings by a Nigerian email scammer. Laura works as a professional proof reader and notices some grammatical/vocabulary irregularities in the scammer’s communications and wonders if she could track this person down on the internet by the same odd grammatical/vocabulary usages found in current scams. Thus begins a harrowing odyssey from North America to Africa in pursuit of justice to be served. (submitted by Melanie)

VaughanPLDavidB Sep 27, 2017

This is two books trying to be one. It started well. A Canadian man is driven to despair by a Nigerian swindle and his family seeks answers, redress, and retribution. Then suddenly, we are with a young woman in northern Nigeria walking, walking, walking away from her home for a reason the author never reveals. Then we're off to a young man in the Niger River delta in time to see the invasion by the oil companies. None of these things seem to be even remotely connected until the author contrives a meeting between the young man and the walking woman. And again, only through a clumsy literary contrivance are the two stories pulled together and in only the most rushed and superficial of ways.

It felt like the author was more interested in writing "A Rough Guide to Nigeria" and in condemning the oil industry, than he was in developing characters or the story. The book was lacking in narrative but bloated with description. The author even took over the voice of a character, Laura, to justify it. Being a copy editor, Laura internally recalls how one of her authors endlessly includes many seemingly insignificant details about his characters. She had asked herself "Would you really notice stuff like that?" Of course, she concludes in the context of the conversation she and her family are having with the police that yes, you do. And so, having got in his justification, the author subjects the reader to bloated descriptions for the next 300-plus pages.

Another disappointing choice from the Giller jury.

Jun 08, 2017

I enjoyed this book for the most part. I liked especially how the setting was Calgary for some of the chapters. This book discusses a fictional family that has been effected by a Nigerian con man, ultimately causing the suicide of the father. The other characters in Nigeria eventually intertwine with the main character Laura who's father has perished. It was a very interesting book, slightly disturbing at times. Over all it was a good work of fiction about a rather unique topic.

Feb 17, 2016

This dark story was well written and well researched. I didn't love the ending but for the most part it was really good. I learned a lot from this book. I would recommend it for sure.

Aug 27, 2015

'wyenotgo"s' comment is a good summation of the book. i did enjoy it and got a better feel for the story behind the theme.

May 26, 2015

A decent read. I enjoyed the intersecting stories. The plot moved along nicely. I found that it picked up as the book went along. The landscape in Canada and Nigeria were written well and weren't overly descriptive. I knew nothing about how these infamous scams were run so it was interesting reading about them. No complaints about this book.

Mar 16, 2015

Outstanding novel that opened my eyes to what 'righting the wrongs' looks like on the other side of the world.

poppy2010 Dec 07, 2013

Excellent writing, very well researched novel, that will be enjoyed by anyone that has some reasonable knowledge of the geography and people of Nigeria.

Oct 26, 2013

While reading this book, I researched 419 on the internet. This is a fictional book based on an actual internet scam. In a small way, my Grandson was a victim of this scam. Always remember "there's no Free Lunch!".

CookingFrog Oct 14, 2013

Nice thriller, interesting and original. The last chapter does not work at all. It does not really matter. By then you don't need Ferguson to tell you the story.

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Jun 08, 2017

Frightening or Intense Scenes: murder/violent scenes

Jun 08, 2017

Violence: There are many images of war, however one of the main characters is murdered using the tire/fire method.

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Jun 08, 2017

csrestall thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Jun 08, 2017

Laura's father has committed suicide after being conned in a 419 scheme which robbed him of his life savings. Laura is going to great lengths to find the con man who is all the way in Nigeria while she is living in Calgary, Canada. There are two other characters in the book as well. Nnamdi a boy living in Nigeria, and Amina a pregnant girl who is running away from her home. They eventually meet up while Nnamdi is driving a tanker full of gasoline. He rescues her in the sense that he is the only one who cares about her and her unborn child. He takes on the role of the father even though he did not impregnate her. Mean while Laura has discovered the identity of the con man and has begun conning him in return. She arrives in Lagos to reclaim her fathers money. The man who conned her father works for a crime lord in Lagos, who happens to be Nnamdi's cousin. Nnamdi and Amina have journeyed to Lagos for the help of that same cousin. Laura is able to get her fathers money back, however Nnamdi is expected to stab her in her hotel room. He decides not to and is murdered by his cousin using the fire/tire method. Laura escapes Lagos leaving pregnant Amina behind and indebted. Once returning home she is plagued by guilt and eventually sends the money she retrieved to Amina, she thinks this is what her father would want.


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