Scams and Revenge in 419

419A man dies after his car plunges off a snowy hill, but the police are suspicious because there are three sets of tire treads. The man’s daughter, Laura, tries to understand the motives behind her father’s senseless death when the police discover that his death is linked with an email scam that came from Africa. The police can do nothing to the con men behind the scheme, though Laura wants justice so she goes to Africa in search of the guilty.

Winston does not see himself as a con man, but a keen observer who lives by his wits with his clever emails that ensnare victims to send him money. He has tried to keep a low profile in Lagos, Nigeria, but more powerful men have noticed his success and have decided to cash in on Winston. Nigeria is a complicated and dangerous place where anyone can just as easily become victim even a con man. In 419 by Will Ferguson Laura is determined to exact her revenge but can she find resolution to her father’s death?

This novel is the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize and is an intricate story that examines emotions and motives while creating memorable details of the characters and Africa. Ferguson is also the author of Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking in Japan.


Christina Callison has been blogging about books for the library’s website since 2006. She has read hundreds of books that include mysteries, fantasies, horror, thrillers, non-fiction, general fiction, and some science fiction. She continues with her goal of finding new books and authors to recommend.