419 is very interesting. I knew almost nothing about Nigeria going into it and now I feel some real sympathy for their people and plight. I'm always in awe with books that can take me to real life locations and make me feel like I've been there or have a new understanding of that place.
A section of the story takes place in my home city of Calgary (Canada). It's a bit odd to read about landmarks and roads I know so well (author Will Ferguson lives here himself) but also a little exciting. Right up until an apartment building could be seen from a road that is too far away (lol). I get it, fictional license and all but it was a bit odd to me because I do know the city so well.
I'd highly recommend 419 for book clubs as it is sure to generate a lot of conversation. The basic story is a struggle between what we all feel we need to do to survive and what we are willing to do within our own moral compass. It's often surprising what lengths humans will go to protect themselves and others. I don't want to say too much else as I think the intricacies of the setting, plot and characters are all best discovered as you read 419.
My four stars is merely because I wasn't dying to read the last 1/3 of the book. I'm very glad I did but it lost something at some point. I believe is was when we spent a large chunk of time with the same characters; instead of the back and forth that happens in the rest of the novel between locations and characters. Or perhaps I was just too concerned that one of our focal characters was not going to make it very far. There are some intense moments that really brought home to me how lucky I am to live where I do.
Overall I think that this is an interesting book, it shares stories from a part of the world many are not very familiar with and it reveals more details about the "Nigerian Prince" email scams than most of us are likely to know. Ferguson does a good job of making you like characters that are morally ambiguous and a good job of telling the stories that are seemingly unrelated to start with. I will guarantee that it all ties together and the end felt perfect to me. Not necessarily happy or sad; just realistic.
I am definitely going to pick-up more by Ferguson. Not only because he's local to me and meets my Canadian author criteria; but because I did really enjoy the set up and loved the end of 419.